Friday, January 05, 2007

30 in 30: #5

Another major building in Manhattan nearing completion is the home of Barry Diller's IAC/InterActiveCorp by Frank Gehry on the far west side of Chelsea.


The curvy building is visible from a few blocks away, as its flowering top pokes above the adjacent rooftops. If we compare this building to another starchitecture design nearing completion, we can see how each responds almost the same way to the city's zoning (setting back at a certain height), though in stylistically different ways ("organic" vs. boxy).


If we analyze Gehry's building following this setback separation, the top is much more successful than the bottom. The image above illustrates how more curves are present in the top than the bottom. This extra detail above gives the building a more varied presence depending on the point of view. As well, the extra "curviness" of the top makes this area more dramatic.


The bottom, on the other hand, doesn't fail due to forms or curves but from the way it meets the ground. Schools of architecture are always teaching this aspect of design, but here it appears that Gehry ignored that consideration. Not only does the building just basically end at the sidewalk, it also is primarily impenetrable, indicating that it will not contain any pedestrian retail. Its location on the West Side Highway may have determined this decision, though nevertheless its presence at this lower level could have been handled better.


The building is located between 18th and 19th Streets on Manhattan's West Side Highway. Take the C,E to 23 St.

#1 - Church of the Crucifixion
#2 - 40 Mercer Residences
#3 - Dichroic Light Field
#4 - Juan Valdez Flagship


  1. BP seez: are way to easy on this building....

  2. it's very annoying the way that building slams into the sidewalk. if there's one thing that differentiates nyc from other cities, it's the interaction between the buildings and the people on the sidewalk and the commotion that creates.
    that part of town, opposite chelsea piers, is becoming more and more populated (condos and a nice dog park around the corner etc) and this will become just a block to walk past as quickly as possible.
    perhaps the accumulation of b-level internet sites will go bust2.0 and they'll have to add some retail at street level.

  3. BP - I'm probably being too easy because the building is better than I expected. It's definitely got its problems, but overall I lean towards liking it rather than hating it.

    scot - Yea, it's like Gehry didn't realize what New York's about. It's not LA and geared towards cars, regardless of its location.

  4. The standard square doors are a let down considering the "radical" design. I'm sure it has to do with efficiency and safety, but then Gehry should have thought of that when designing the lower portions near the street.

  5. I have seen this building in person and the first thing attracted me, or distracted, me is the glass.
    I gave me a feeling of cheapness though I know the budget spent is not small at all.
    I remembered immediately the cheep sun glasses sold in a street bazaar.

  6. It's like a creme puff swan at a Mother's Day Brunch--Delicious

  7. right...this building is hideous. Completely out of place, as if Gehry cared little for his surroundings. Also the glass looks so tacky and cheap. That's kind of similar to his building in Cambridge for MIT, which has these cheap bricks on one side.


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