New Yuck architecture
We asked you a few weeks ago to give us your picks for NYC's ugliest buildings, and your choices included the Citigroup tower in Queens (that glass middle finger to Manhattan.). Urbanite's David Freedlander also put the question to a range of observers, who helped us with Thursday's cover story, 10 to Lose, a play on our annual list of 10 buildings that need protection, part of our Endangered NYC coverage.
Here are six buildings or public spaces we left out that have inspired their share of hostility. And, of course, let us know which buildings New York City would be a better place without. There's certainly no shortage. This list is also very Manhattan- and to a lesser extent Brooklyn-centric, so tell us what ails the streetscape across the city. Don't be shy, we know your list is long. We'll print some of your best suggestions in Friday's paper.
Cooper Square Hotel
Karrie Jacobs, author of The Perfect $100,000 House: A Trip Across America and Back in Pursuit of a Place to Call Home
I think it's hard to beat the nearly completed Cooper Square Hotel. The
bloated 22 story tower by architect Carlos Zapata rips off its best
stylistic moves from Frank Gehry's much nicer westside IAC headquarters
and is otherwise unforgivably out of scale and out of place. (So much so
that I kind of wonder whether it's one of the building department's
"self-certified" specials.) It seems to me that it would be best for the
developers to simply disassemble the thing before the hotel actually opens and disappear quietly into the night. Its nickname among its neighbors is Dubai.
NYU Bobst Library
Rick Bell, executive director of NY Chapter of American Institute of Architects
Bobst Library. It is one of the most reviled buildings in New York City, eliciting negative comments from people who are usually fastidiously polite. Tearing down Bobst, the library, a funereal hulk inappropriate to the scale and extroverted character of Greenwich Village, should be part of the re-envisioning of the need for NYU to have a more community-friendly character.
220 Greene Avenue
Jonathan Butler, editor, Brownstoner
220 Greene Avenue in Clinton Hill pretty epitomizes much of what has been wrong with the building boom in Brooklyn. Shoddy workmanship? Check. Non-contextual design? Check. Unlicensed workers? Sure. Poor layouts? Got that too. In a sign of just how much the current owner cares, the second-floor window has been cracked for months. The "Greene Avenue Atrocity" (as we've dubbed) is such an eyesore that it has made the adjacent lot, on the market for more than a year, effectively unsellable. Talk about value destruction!
Mount Sinai Hospital
Walter Grutchfield, photographer, editor of 14to42.net, a website devoted to chronicling Manhattan signage:
The big fat ugly building at Mount Sinai Hospital on Fifth Avenue at approximately 100th Street gets my vote as one of the most offensive buildings in the city. This is particularly true when viewed from the west side across the Central Park Reservoir, where it sticks out like some kind of brown blot against the sky.
Grand Army Plaza
Deborah Marton, executive director, Design Trust for Public Space:
Grand Army Plaza is New York Citys greatest unrealized asset. Home to powerful architecture, the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, the elegant Bailey Fountain, the entrance to Frederick Law Olmsteds greatest park, and an important transit hub, the sum of these parts is today emphatically less than the whole. Currently hazardous for pedestrians and bicyclists, a redesigned Grand Army Plaza would be one of the city's grandest public spaces.
Renaissance Times Square
Kristen Richards, editor-in-chief, Arch News Now:
Renaissance Times Square, 1580 Broadway (1991): I watched this being built when my office was at 45th and Broadway. All I could think of was: Darth Vader has landed in Times Square! The shiny, dark glass made it seem to glower over the square. It looked better - if one didn't look too high -when the massive electronic signs were installed in the narrow southern facade. To this day, if al tourist asks me where the entrance is, I have to say, "I'm not sure."
Photos: Tiffany L. Clark