Regression trumps Transgression
Here’s my abstract rewritten yet again, more developer like this time. Although, it’s basically just me cutting and pasting from the Goldberger article…maybe he should present my thesis for me.
Paul Goldberger, writing in the New Yorker about Robert Sterns new building at 15 Central Park West in Manhattan, said:
I have never seen anything quite like it: historical pastiche is common enough in country houses or museums, but it’s rare on the scale of a skyscraper.
He goes on the express his surprise that this building, which harkens back to the golden years of Rosario Candela, “looks as if it had been put up 75 years ago”, yet it is, in his words, “the most financially successful building in the history of New York.”
“All the apartments were sold before the building was finished, at prices that started at more than two thousand dollars a square foot and were subsequently raised nineteen times. Demand was so extreme that brokers started to worry that the building was taking all the business away from other high-end buildings nearby.”
As Goldberger puts it: “The idea is to create, ready-made, the kind of place you would get by renovating an old apartment.” Atavistic spaces once used by butlers and maids become eat-in kitchens and picture windows. The 45 million dollar penthouse apartment in Stern’s building was at one point the most expensive apartment in all of New York. This pastiched building, not Herzog and DeMueron’s 40 Bond or Calatrava’s tower on 80 South Street, is a potential goldmine for architects.
A short train ride away is a site in South Williamsburg, a place should be swarmed by developers, but instead is being ignored in favor of development in North Williamsburg. It’s positioned close to both the newly constructed addition to the Williamsburg Bridge, directly on the Myrtle stop of the JMZ, near a park, and the BQE. It is one of the largest contiguous single owned blocks in the area and extends from street to street. Most importantly, the building that currently inhabits the site is a classic theater built in the early 1900’s reused at a 99 cent store and apartments. Sadly, the renovation has completely effaced the original theater. This renovated theater could have been an architectural jewel in South Williamsburg, a place that retro hipsters, wealthy Manhattan-ites, conservative Hasids, and Hispanic business owners could all support. And a place that could have been a highly profitable investment for a developer.
The thesis proposes a “renovation” that puts the theater back into the building . That is, the building will be designed to appear as if it is actually a renovated, re-purposed theater that expands both the residential component and the retail component of the existing building. This thesis will revisit antique typologies like that of the movie palace, out-dated architectural techniques like poche and pastiche, and forgotten forms of ornament and plaster.
Hmmm this is not coming out quite right, especially when I transition from Stern’s building to my site… I need to work on it. But I think I like this better than the Jefferson one. Criticism anyone?