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From Atlantic Yards to One57, the Saddest Buildings of 2014

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It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the 11th Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: buildings that make us sad for architecture.

Award for Razed Buildings That Made Us Weep
Let's start with the buildings that we lost this year. These weren't necessarily architectural marvels, but they added a lot to the visual fabric of the city. Now they are gone forever (or on their way out).

1) 5 Pointz: In some sense, the city lost this street art icon last year when it was whitewashed, but this year brought the wrecking ball. The once graffiti-covered warehouse is now a pile of rubble.
2) The American Folk Art Museum: The architecture world debated the fate of the Folk Art Museum for more than a year, but it was razed this summer to make way for the MoMA expansion. The sculptural bronze facade by Tod Williams Billie Tsien was tucked away in storage, but it's unknown if it will ever be displayed.
3) The Domino Sugar Factory: It was a long time coming, but 2014 was finally the year that the old Domino factory fell. Developer Two Trees is saving the refinery building and some artifacts, but everything else will come down. Urban explorers across the city are in mourning.
4) The Bancroft Building: Demolition permits for the stately Bancroft Building on 29th Street were approved in February, but it's taking a long time for the building to come down. Someday, a glassy tower will rise in its place.

Most Pathetic Building of the Year
Thanks to bickering between Forest City Ratner and Skanska, B2, the modular residential tower of Atlantic Yards wins the award for the most pathetic building. Last year, we highlighted the project as one to watch in 2014 because it was supposed to be ready for occupancy by now, but fighting over cost overruns completely derailed the schedule, delaying the building for months. Construction is starting back up, but it still won't be complete until 2016. Things got so crappy* that Forest City decided to rename the whole project Pacific Park. [*Well, they renamed it for a lot of reasons, but distancing the site from the controversy that surrounded Atlantic Yards from the start probably played a part.]

Runner Up: The only reason why 55 Eckford Street didn't take the cake for being the most pathetic building of the year is because its been a pathetic building for a decade. The building has sat as a steel skeleton since 2004, pissing off the neighbors, but the future holds hope, right? Wrong. It will be ugly, and therefore, can win the following award, too.

Award for Designs That Will Ruin Architecture
These two renderings—a Donskoy transformer on Fourth Avenue, and whatever that other thing is on Myrtle Avenue—tied for the most hideous reveals we saw this year. It's incredibly hard to believe that professionals created these designs, looked at them, and thought, "Yes, that's perfect! This is totally an apartment building we should build in Brooklyn!" Or maybe they didn't think that, and we're all being pranked.

Award for the Building That Already Ruined Architecture
This thing on Second Avenue. It was gifted to the East Village by the one and only Ben Shaoul.

Award for The Building That Ruined Architecture Awards
Someone gave this Pizza Hut/day care/martial arts school in Queens an award for its design. This is not a joke.

The Worst Building of the Year
It may be the original supertall tower, but One57 kind of sucks. Pretty much everyone (or at least most archicritics) agrees that its wavy blue facade is ugly. Justin Davidson of New York Magazine called it "clumsily gaudy." James Russell, formerly of Bloomberg (RIP Rhyme Time), said the tower "crashes unceremoniously into the street," and lamented the "endless acres of cheap-looking frameless glass in cartoonish stripes and blotches of silver and pewter." Michael Kimmelman of the Times had similarly harsh words: "[The building] 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. It's anybody's guess how the building got past the drawing board." On top of all that, with all the other new luxury towers coming to market, no one really wants to live there anymore. Sales ground to a halt, but even so, the tower still clocked four of the top 13 most expensive sales of 2014, so good job, Gary Barnett, on your big, ugly, blue tower.
· All Curbed Awards 2014 [Curbed]


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