31 in 31: #28

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.

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For now the above street view shows what architect William J. Rockwell faced in turning a Tennessee Mountain restaurant into a Crocs flagship store, located at Spring and Wooster Streets in SoHo. Alterations to the early 19th-century, many-times-renovated corner house required Landmarks (LPC) approval. When compared with the photo below, taken earlier today, the changes were fairly minimal, occurring on the ground floor.


The three-story garage behind the house was demolished, but then LPC turned down Mitchell's first design which resembled the old garage. Instead they recommended "a modern transitional glass piece," according to The Architect's Newspaper. The new piece has some of the clearest clear glass I've seen lately, making the colorful Crocs shoes/sandals pop, but also the ducts, sprinkler pipes, and other fittings.


This project is a small but nevertheless notable example of LPC's assertion that new buildings should look new, so they are not confused with their historical neighbors. It is a view contested by Steven W. Semes in The Future of the Past; he argues that buildings should find continuity with their historical neighbors in an effort to extend some bits of culture from the past to the present and into the future. He would have fought for Mitchell's initial design, but I find the new glass box pleasing, if conventional. It is certainly a foil to the corner house, but it still could have found some inspiration in this historic building; as is it's like a Crate & Barrel squeezed into the small rear lot, well done but looking like it could exist somewhere else as easily as on this lot in SoHo.


#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
#20 - Morgan Library and Museum
#21 - MTA Flood Mitigation
#22 - Wilf Hall
#23 - Yohji Yamamoto
#24 - NYU Center for Academic and Spiritual Life
#25 - Nehemiah Spring Creek
#26 - Longchamps
#27 - 9th Street Residence


  1. Corrected. Don't know how I ended up calling him William J. Mitchell! Thanks, SSAW66


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