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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fill Those Voids

Walking around the Nolita/Bowery area a few weeks ago, I passed by some sites to catch up on construction progress. Disappointingly, but not surprisingly, I saw either little or no progress, a clear sign of the troubles plaguing the realms of architecture, construction and development. These sites include:

Sperone Westwater Gallery on the Bowery by Norman Foster
[site photo by archidose; right image source]

Bowery Hotel by FLANK
[site photo by archidose; bottom image source]

Nolita Townhouse by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
[site photo by archidose; right image source]

Some quick research on the web (i.e. Curbed) indicates that Foster's gallery is moving ahead sloooooowly (if uncertainly), FLANK's Bowery developer is in the throws of foreclosure, and the Nolita Townhouse has made zilch progress since last April. All three projects would be welcome additions to the area, so I'm hoping they don't end up like Diller + Scofidio's earlier Slow House, never to get past foundation work:

[Slow House by Diller + Scofidio | image left source, right source]


  1. That Slow House is the most over rated and milked project in history. Jeeze its, what, fifteen years old?

  2. The thing that these projects have in common, that's plainly visible in the photos, is that they don't relate the the rest of the block at all. Its kind of a farce that they're using tenement plots to do these show-offy pieces. There's something intrinsically out of scale with them. Talk about bad neighbors. The empty plots are better. You don't have to be Jane Jacobs to see it.

  3. Drunken Master - Overrated in what sense? It's a strong project with a thorough conceptual basis; not sure it's age reduces that...unless you totally disagree. Ironically it's unbuilt nature has probably extended its influence; if it were completed it's built form might have detracted from all the other stuff (driving, windshield view, sea view, etc.) outside the house's actual design.

    thomas - I don't think Jane Jacobs was too concerned with how a building appeared relative to its neighbors. She was more interested in diversity of building stock, people and uses. The fact that these are small infill lots being developed, and not multiple lots consolidated into larger-scale homogeneous buildings (the hotel is questionable here), aligns them with Jacobs' ideas, not against them. What the Foster and FLANK projects displaced might be a better area of contention in my opinion.

  4. I basically agree; but do you think its possible to think of scale in other terms beside appearance, like scale of use. If so, do you think the buildings are in scale with the block?

    I can see the transparent facades of the D&S and Foster buildings as an attempt to "interact" with the street. To me, it seems more about cannibalizing the street, despite what the architects might say. Its kind of an architectural equivalent to "cell yell".

    Maybe its too "knee jerk" to say but, why do the buildings just sort of look plunked down from outer space. Is it cgi design?


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