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Archicritic Is Not A Fan Of 57th Street's Super Tall Towers

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A new exhibit at the Skyscraper Museum examines the recent trend of developers building super tall, super skinny, and super expensive condos in Manhattan, and it inspired Bloomberg architecture critic James Russell to turn his attention towards the towers. Russell focuses on three that grace the Midtown skyline along 57th Street. His opinion? Not great. We'll let his prose take it from here:

How does Extell get away with
selling shiny, gift-wrapped ordinariness for top prices?
One57 crashes unceremoniously into the street,
a not-yet-installed rippling canopy may bring a note of whimsy.
Endless acres of cheap-looking frameless glass
in cartoonish stripes and blotches of silver and pewter
muddy this tower's profile.
Enough of lazy, no-character glass walls.
Skillful marketing is cheaper than real architecture.
Architect Christian de Portzamparc salvages a bit of dignity
with winsomely curving greenhouse hats atop the setbacks.

432 Park, rising to almost 1,400 feet
a cubic silo of concrete
with 10-foot-square windows that punch the exterior.
The windows seem to be at war
with the extraordinarily slender form.
If it's finished with finesse,
this chest-thumper might be gutsy enough to command the sky.
Inside, monumental windows, 12.5-foot-high ceilings
conjure a modernist baronial grandeur.

This tower, 107 West 57th Street,
by far the skinniest of the needles
will rise from the courtyard of the Steinway building,
a stoic classical pile that houses the legendary piano showroom.
Bronze-trimmed setbacks and finials
visually dissolve the building into the sky.
While the face of the tower thins dramatically at the top,
horizontal bands of full-height glass look north to Central Park.
Rippling moldings in terra cotta
run vertically up the skinny sides.
If all of these ideas meld gracefully,
this will be the most alluring of the midtown super-slims.

· With $90 Million Condos, Needle Towers Jostle for Views [Bloomberg]
· Rhyme Time With James Russell archives [Curbed]
Photo by Tectonic via Curbed Flickr pool

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