In the Sept. 25 New York Times, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wrote an article so wonderful, so needed, so much a call to arms suited to our aggrieved times, I can scarcely believe it appeared in the pages of the too-judicious-by-half Grey Lady.
Titled, splendidly, "New York City, Tear Down These Walls," it put forth the Swiftian modest proposal that the financially crippled City should, "Instead of crying over what can’t be built,... refocus our energies on knocking down the structures that not only fail to bring us joy, but actually bring us down?"
He then went on to list his seven choices for the wrecking ball—a couple of them very recent creations, monstrosities of the Bloomberg administration's building binge. "Ugliness, of course, should not be the only criterion," he reasoned. "There are countless dreadful buildings in New York; only a few (thankfully) have a traumatic effect on the city."
And, oh!, but does he hit the right marks, from Madison Square Garden to the Verizon building to the Astor Place tower in the East Village. Vulgarities that make you grit your teeth in fury. Here is the list (along with some of Nick's juicier comments):
1. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AND PENNSYLVANIA STATION
"As arenas go, it is cramped and decrepit."
2. TRUMP PLACE
"A cheap, miserable contribution to an area of the city already in need of some mending, this luxury residential complex is about as glamorous as a toll plaza."
3. JACOB K. JAVITS CONVENTION CENTER
"The site would serve better as housing than as a shed for dog shows and car fanatics."
4. ANNENBERG BUILDING, MOUNT SINAI MEDICAL CENTER
"This towering structure, clad in rusted Cor-Ten steel, looks like either a military fortress or the headquarters of a sinister spy agency."
5. 375 PEARL STREET (The Verizon building)
"Each time I cross the East River, I find myself wanting to throw my cellphone at the building."
6. ASTOR PLACE
"Astor Place would seem more comfortable in a suburban office park...it’s a literal manifestation of money smoothing over the texture of everyday life."
7. 2 COLUMBUS CIRCLE
"A mild, overly polite renovation that obliterates the old while offering us nothing breathtakingly new."
My God! How did this get past the hyper-rational editors of the Times? Oh well. I don't care. As long as it made it into print. As long as the creators of these brick-and-mortar crimes are properly and publicly embarrassed. Do yourself a treat and read the entire article. It's brimming with vim and vinegar. Well worth the time.