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HL23 Gives LA Architecture Critic Opportunity to Insult NYC

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What gets a Los Angeles architecture critic all the way to New York? Neil Denari. LA Times archicritic Christopher Hawthorne came all the way east to check out HL23, the long-awaited Denari-designed condo building over the High Line that just started hitting the market and will open for move-ins this June. So what did LA's architecture critic think? Folks, he loved it. He calls it "a standout building" and "a building of drama and cunning." (Even if he also accuses it of vaguely parasitic behavior: it "behaves like a flower planted along the park's underside that manages to grow up and out over its urban host" and is "a building happy to feed on what seems to be holding it back.") So is there anything that Hawthorne doesn't like? Yes: Most of the rest of New York City architecture. Here now, the best NYC vs. LA disses from his HL23 review.

5) "And in a reversal of the architectural setbacks for which New York has long been famous, HL23 doesn't get narrower as it goes up; it rises from a small footprint in the shadow of the High Line and grows opportunistically wider."

4) "The New York project shows how much Denari has learned from those periods of immersion in Japanese culture, particularly when it comes to the ability of Tokyo architects to shoehorn ambitious buildings into small and highly restricted spaces."

3) "On a single day recently, along with HL23, I visited new buildings by Rafael Moneo (a massive science complex at Columbia University), Frank Gehry (a 76-story apartment tower downtown) and Norman Foster (a sliver of an art gallery on the Bowery), all without leaving Manhattan. Then I hopped into a cab to Queens to see an impressive addition to the Museum of the Moving Image by the architect Thomas Leeser. None of those buildings is a masterpiece."

2) "But the most surprising thing about the building is how it turns on its ear one of the most stubborn assumptions about the differences between architecture in New York and in Los Angeles. It used to be that for young, experimental or otherwise untested architects, L.A. was the place to get an unorthodox design built. In New York, on the other hand, opportunities for those architects tended to be limited to residential or commercial interiors that had no impact on the skyline."

1) "To complete the first ground-up building of his career, the 53-year-old Denari had to go to New York — to Manhattan, more surprising still, the island that was for decades known among architects as the place visionary dreams went to die."
· Manhattan's HL23, by architect Neil Denari [LA Times]
· HL23 coverage [Curbed]


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