The West 57th Street megatowers (which would be a terrible name for a band, so don't even think about it)—One57, The Nordstrom Tower (as it is apparently being called) at 217 West 57th, JDS's 107 West 57th, and Harry Macklowe's 432 Park Avenue—have all been among the year's most discussed projects. And now Times archicritic Michael Kimmelman has weighed in, taking the stance that, while not all of the towers are terrible, the city's current policy of giving private developers free rein in terms of buying and stacking air rights will prove to be a damaging one. "The city should put a limit on air rights that can be merged without public review," Kimmelman writes, adding:
Exceptional height should be earned, not just bought. Let community groups and city agencies weigh in. Developers will raise hell, but the move would not stop sky-high buildings from going up. Buildings striving for such height would just need to make a case for themselves aesthetically and otherwise.
Kimmelman also goes through the developments and turns a phrase or two about each one, much to our delight. Some of his best lines about 2013's most oft-described designs:
1) On all the towers: "...like a clutch of preening runway models..."
2) On One57: "[It] unravels as a cascade of clunky curves descending toward ribbons billowing into canopies. The conceit is falling water. The effect: a heap of volumes, not liquid but stolid, chintzily embellished, clad in acres of eye-shadow-blue glass offset by a pox of tinted panes, like age spots."
3) On the Nordstrom Tower cantilevering over the neighboring Art Students League: "Picture a giant with one foot raised, poised to squash a poodle."
4) Bonus Nordstrom Tower cantilever zinger: "[According to the Landmarks Commission,] the cantilever, at 290 feet in the air, is high enough not to affect views of the Art Students League, as if nobody in New York ever looks up."
5) And one that Kimmelman actually likes, 107 West 57th Street: "The project rises like a sugar wafer, a sleek glass sheet..."
· Seeing a Need for Oversight of New York's Lordly Towers [NYT]
· More Kimmelmania [Curbed]