Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Adventures in New York

Upon arrival home in New York City, the first thing I did was jump on a bike and visit some of the new architecture that have sprung up since I've been away (who wouldn't?). First on my list was Jean Nouvel's residential building on 21st street and 11th avenue. Located just across the street from Gehry's IAC building, Nouvel's residential tower, which fits beautifully into its surroundings, made its neighbor seem like a fanciful sculpture someone just plopped along the highway. The front facade is made up of many faceted pieces of colored glass whose frames also jut out at strange angles, giving the facade a shimmering effect. The back facades that abut neighboring buildings are a simple dark brick with scattered windows that also angle slightly. These sides do well to fit in with the neighborhood, evoking the tenement style buildings of yore, while the angled pieces of glass bring the unite the two faces of the building.

Continuing down the bike path to Battery Park City, I visited the new Public Library. The area itself has really come along since I was going to high school just down the block. Many of the residential high rises are completed and the landscaping between them does nicely to tie them together. With giant slides that cut through man made rock outcroppings and end in sandboxes, its no wonder Battery Park City is a kid's paradise. The library itself was very cleanly done: well lit with clean edges and furniture that gives it a touch of color, it was a great place to work or browse. Its collection of books and movies was also very well stocked and the computers brand new, without a doubt the best amenities I've seen in any of the New York Public Libraries. With stairs that doubled as a plush seating area for the kids section, the final piece in making Battery Park City a child's fantasy playground is in place.

A stop at the Center for Architecture for an exhibit on solar design in everyday objects, and the plans for the domino sugar factory in Brooklyn , soon to be a residential complex, and then on to 40 Bond Street, Herzog & De Meuron's residential building. The glass treatment on the exterior of the building and the graffiti-like fence on the ground level do a lot to help the building stand out, however it remains grounded in the vibe of the Bowery.

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