31 in 31: #20

This is a series for August 2010 which documents my on-the-ground -- and on-the-webs -- research for my guidebook to contemporary NYC architecture (to be released next year by W. W. Norton). Archives can be found at the bottom of the post and via the 31 in 31 label.


Many people are familiar with Renzo Piano's design of the Morgan Library & Museum, notable--and controversial--for its contrast to the early 20th-century and the skylit atrium that internally connects the various structures. Piano's expansion fronts Madison Avenue, where the main entry is located. Pierpont Morgan's study and library faces 36th Street, where the new building is set back from it and the gallery building. So what is on 37th Street, next to the Morgan House (now bookstore for the Library & Museum)? A service walkway, loading, and a dumpster, of course.

New Museum

Sure, just like the human body, every building needs to deal with how things go in and out, but spending a few minutes glancing (and taking photos, above) at this area, I felt like this side wasn't really considered as much as it should have been. In Manhattan, loading often occurs through the sidewalk (those hatches all over the place), but for larger buildings a garage or other internal space is often necessary. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be well done. I think SANAA did the opposite of Piano and actually embraced this "other side" of the building, visually opening up the loading to the street (left side on link and above). That embrace arises from the fact loading occurs a few feet away from the main entry, not around the corner. Yet it's still refreshing to see an architect confront the situation that is normally out of sight and out of mind.

#1 - Phyto Universe
#2 - One Bryant Park
#3 - Pier 62 Carousel
#4 - Bronx River Art Center
#5 - The Pencil Factory
#6 - Westbeth Artists' Housing
#7 - 23 Beekman Place
#8 - Metal Shutter Houses
#9 - Bronx Box
#10 - American Academy of Arts and Letters
#11 - FDR Four Freedoms Park
#12 - One Madison Park
#13 - Pio Pio Restaurant
#14 - Queens West (Stage II)
#15 - 785 Eighth Avenue
#16 - Big BambĂș
#17 - Event Horizon
#18 - Murano
#19 - William Lescaze House