Back in 1931, a group of architects that included Ralph Walker and William Van Alen dressed as their own buildings—1 Wall Street, the Chrysler, and so on—for a party known as the Beaux Arts Ball. It’s been widely imitated in the years since, and for good reason: It’s always fun to see people translate architecture into scaled-down, costume form. That’s why when someone posted a photo to Reddit’s NYC subgroup of themselves dressed as Rafael Viñoly’s 432 Park Avenue—made from cardboard and to scale—we took notice.
The man behind the costume is Andrew Littlefield, a writer and editor for Catalyst by Convene. Though he’s not an architect himself, he is a self-professed building nerd who decided to put his love for the city to good use. As for why 432 Park, Littlefield says that “it’s one that I think people don’t appreciate enough.”
“Maybe it’s a commentary on income inequality in New York City, but from a purely aesthetic appreciation for what it accomplished, it’s a really cool building,” he says. Plus, “it’s really easy to make out of cardboard because it’s symmetrical all the way around.”
Littlefield says he thought of the costume just about a week ago, and has been working to put it together ever since. It consists of three cardboard boxes that are connected with PVC pipe and zip ties, with cut-outs for Littlefield’s face, arms and legs. The whole thing is to scale—approximately 1:125—and when assembled, stands just over 11 feet tall. Littlefield also attached LED lights at two of the points where 432 Park Avenue lights up, to keep it as accurate as possible. Even the windows are to scale; Littlefield use a stencil and spray paint (done late at night on the roof of his building) to get the 10-by-10 windows depicted just so.
This morning, Littlefield and his wife, Sherri, a photographer and art dealer, did a brief photoshoot in front of the supertall itself, and got the attention of folks within the building. “At first I think people were a little wary, but as I started to put it on I could see they were starting to smile and laugh,” he says—and that’s the point. “I wanted it to look extra-ridiculous and funny.”
For all of the effort he put into replicating 432 Park, Littlefield says he’s never actually been inside the building—though perhaps that’ll change now that his costume has been getting more attention. (Are you reading, Rafael?)
One place you won’t see Littlefield is the Halloween parade; apparently, the costume isn’t exactly easy to walk in.