dancing with architecture NY: the high line

A side effect from walking around New York City is tree deprivation. After a few hours of wandering among the concrete, steel, and glass, we missed the calming rustle and respite from trees. There's Central Park, but it's (ahem) Central and corralled. As it turns out, the best stroll through the city is along the High Line, a nearly 1.5-mile elevated former-railroad-now-park that weaves among and under the buildings of west Manhattan. Besides avoiding traffic and the rhythmic stopping and going of crosswalks, landscaping adorns the High Line. Trees!

Because of the High Line's popularity and proximity to the Hudson River, new starchitect-designed buildings are sprouting along the Line. We started our stroll at Hudson Yards near Hell's Kitchen. Hudson Yards has been controversial because of its high-end airs, its architecture, and, similar to people everywhere, the fact that it represents change. Unusual for private development, Hudson Yards has a large public area open to the Hudson River with an enormous, architectural sculpture named the Vessel. Even the Vessel, designed by Thomas Heatherwick and meant to evoke stepwells, is controversial due to its estimated cost of $200 million. 

We tried to walk the Vessel, but it required tickets and a time reservation. Since this vacation was about wandering whims of the moment (we only had three scheduled events for the week: Hamilton, a house party at a Paul Rudolph townhouse, and a departure back to the airport), we couldn't commit.

 The Vessel

Next to the Vessel was this kinda-cool building named The Shed with a rolling shade structure.

Looking back toward Hudson Yards and the Vessel:

The undulating curves of the Zaha Hadid Building hugs the Highline:

Unknown architect:

A block away from the Highline is a Frank Gehry, the IAC Building:  

Going up behind the Gehry is a collection of twisting towers by Bjarke Ingels named The XI:

Also next door to the Gehry is a Jean Nouvel (100 Eleventh Avenue) that looks like a collection of window panes:

The High Ends (when walking south) at the Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum of American Art. Formerly housed in an iconic Marcel Breuer-designed building (post coming on that), the Whitney outgrew its Brutalist home and traded up to digs on the Line:



dancing with architecture NY: Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim

Finished in 1959 after 16 years of design, permitting, and construction, Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim is one of his most iconic buildings. Famously, Wright designed the museum around an upwardly cork-screwing quarter-mile ramp that allows visitors to efficiently view art as they move through the displays. Wright intended visitors to take the elevator to the top and then saunter back down to the ground. The expressiveness of the museum introduced the era of starchitect-designed museums where the the building competed with the art, something artists at the time rebeled against (to which Wright responded that his design was appropriate since architecture was the mother of all art).

Wright developed six separate sets of working drawings for the museum, including a red version. Ultimately Wright (and his clients) settled on the inverted ziggerat we see today, inspired by the ziggerats of Mesopotamia. Wright carried the upward and outward slant of the exterior walls into the main gallery to represent the angle of an artist's easel, something Wright thought was appropriate for displaying art (many artists disagreed, resulting in spacers to present paintings at a vertical orientation). Wright wanted stone on the exterior but used concrete to reduce costs. He died at the age of 91, six months before his only museum opened. 

The Guggenheim's shape is striking in contrast to all of the rectilinear artchitecture in New York City. Wrigth wasn't exactly happy about building in New York, but chose a location across the street from Central Park to achieve some connection with the outdoors (although ironically the resulting building is highly introverted). The main atrium is glorious with an enourmous glass dome flooding the interior with natural light (despite reports of no photography allowed, we were allowed to photograph except in the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit). 

The design, for the time, seems a little dated, but that's probably due the 16 years from conception to completion and Wright never being able to distance himself from ornamentation. The white concrete gives the building a 1930s International Style vibe but with a healty dose of art deco in the windows and perhaps a dash of whitewashed Beaux Arts with the glass dome. Nonetheless, the Guggenheim is glorious and a worthy visit.

source and source