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What’s the Ugliest Building in New York City?

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Welcome to Friday Open Threads, wherein we'll pass the mic to readers to speak up about topics of interest, distress, horror, etc. Have something you want discussed? Let us know.

New York’s skyline is undoubtedly the world’s prettiest, and we’ll brook no arguments on this point. But even with all of the beautiful buildings in the five boroughs—the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Terminal, the Woolworth Building, we could go on—there are also some pretty big stinkers. In the past few years alone, the skyline has gotten some pretty controversial additions, from Rafael Viñoly’s supertall inspired by a trash can to One57, a pricey tower that Times archicritic Michael Kimmelman derided as "a cascade of clunky curves," concluding that "it’s anybody’s guess how the building got past the drawing board."

With all that in mind—and the fact that we haven’t visited the topic of the city’s best and worst skyscrapers since before the supertall boom—we want to know: What do you think are the city’s ugliest buildings? New, old, tall, squat—as long as it’s within the five boroughs, it’s fair game.

Here are some possible contenders, which, in the interest of fairness, we lifted from the 2010 edition of the AIA Guide to New York City. Truly, it is extraordinary in both its breadth and its bitchiness:

Renzo Piano’s New York Times Building: The AIA Guide describes it as "a tense tower" that’s "as grey and dour as a rain-soaked copy of the Sunday Styles section." Ouch.

425 Lexington Avenue: The guide refers to this building as "flamboyant" and "top heavy," comparing it unfavorably to the Chrysler Building just down the block. (To be precise, the authors call it "an ugly dwarf" in comparison to the Chrysler—but really, that building sets an impossible standard anyway.)

The Trump Tower: We’ll let the guide’s authors describe the glass-clad, marble-and-brass covered skyscraper: "[Donald Trump’s] aesthetics … are still more akin to malt liquor than Veuve Clicquot." Burn.

William Beaver House: This Financial District condo gets the moniker "the Post-It note building." That’s … not wrong.

And that’s without getting into the many buildings that have sprouted in the ensuing six years. We’re guessing that you have your own opinions. So sound off in the comments on the building you wish could be erased from the skyline—and don’t forget to show your work. (By which we mean, post a photo if you’ve got one.) Oh, and play nice.


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