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Saturday, November 16, 2013

What Were They Thinking?

For a while now the entrance to the Standard East Village on the Bowery has been behind plywood, as the hotel renovated its ground floor to move its lobby into the neighboring townhouse and reconfigure the ground floor. I found myself in the area on Friday afternoon and was shocked to see how they modified the base of the tower designed by Carlos Zapata.

Here is the before condition, via Google Street View:


And here is the after, via my dumbphone:


So instead of keeping or continuing the language of the tower they purchased, the Standard opted to extend the blue storefront they pasted onto the townhouse around the old lobby, where it meets a new brick storefront, both appearing to sit in front of the glass walls from above. Beyond the totally odd juxtaposition of the modern tower and the brick and wood storefronts, the renovation covers up the stair that used to provide access to an elevated terrace on the back of the building. (Is the terrace gone? I'm not sure.) Whatever the intention (or the architect/designer, whoever that is), the hotel seems to be focusing on the eye-level experience of hotel guests and restaurant customers, assuming they'll never look up.

16 comments:

  1. This is a great catch, and I think you may have found a new species: for lack of a better term, call it Hearsttower Reversus?!?

    No modern glass phallus is complete without its historic base - like brick trousers through which the sculpted shard explodes with viagra-powered turtleneck supremecy! (ok, too much coffee this morning - but lets face it, that zapata tower is a bit of a toad...)

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    1. Perhaps a toad-tower, but I've always like the way it met the ground—the gap and stair from the Bowery, the access from around the corner on the south, the fluidity of access throughout the various indoor and outdoor spaces. But all that has been blocked off by the ground-floor transformations.

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    2. You know what would be really awesome: if they left the original butt-glazed curtain wall in place, so that you walk thru the new masonry-esque pub wrapper and the original tower skin is now highlighted as a feature of the interior - meta upon meta!

      And I just noticed the fabric awning...

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  2. Oh my, Bad Idea Jeans! Looks like something some neighborhood association in a town owned by Disney in Florida would mandate or something.

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  3. Juxtaposition can be interesting, even artful at times. But this s awful!

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  4. As long as the client has the money it talks what ever they dream or aspire to will kill intentional style. Maybe soon i'll be stainless steel like your fridge, but then it is "so passe" already. Ok how about recycled wood paneling mixed with brush steel that looks so green doesn't it even if the wood has still been cut from some tree. So make it fake wood in porcelain "Raku" finish. As long as every one talks about it for the owner to be noticed is good And then everyone loves his "PUB" ambiance so there you get the reason :-)

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  5. Just incredible. It's been a slow and steady decline over the last 15 years for the Standard brand, which now seems like its knocking on the doors of the Holiday Inn in an unironic way.

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  6. Looking at venetian blinds, this could be the usual problem of overheating. The client might have lost trust in architects who emphasize aesthetics, if he had to run coolers too much.

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  7. It was Mies who said that anything above eight feet high would go unnoticed

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  8. What's so great about the International Style. OK, there are a few jewel-like examples per city (in NYC, Lever House, Seagram, mayyyybe the UN---you know, the usual suspects). I've walked by this building many times, and the 'gift to the street" was no great shakes, and indeed a bit off-putting: only the uber-cool who know they belong would probably venture past that glazed membrane. The change is probably an improvement from a street experience point of view.

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    1. I completely agree. While it might look silly from across the street, if you are standing in front of it, its probably a huge improvement.

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  9. I just puked in my mouth a little bit.

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  10. The Bowery Hotel down the block is sooo much better. It's contextual while still a tower. It connects to the street, but still goes way up. The problem with this building is not the new ground floor frontage - it's everything above it. ugly from the start, and still ugly.

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  11. Agree so much with your observation. The original Zapata was so much better. It again seems Standard has no idea of style and aesthetics. I wish the phone picture was a little farther back so you could really get a sense of how awful this looks in person.

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  12. I'm with you, John Hill. I thought the old Zapata-designed spaces were some of the best new public spaces in New York. I liked them so much that we stayed there one Christmas. The rooms themselves (not designed by Zapata, I'm told) were not nearly as good.

    Any idea who designed the incongruous new spaces? As you know, I'm a Classical architect, so my problem is not with the traditional but with inferior design replacing superior design.

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    1. John, I have no idea who's responsible for the new design. DOB permits were filed by architect Matt Markowitz, nobody I've heard of, and he doesn't have a website. I'm guessing he just stamped the drawings, while somebody else is responsible for the design.

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