Tuesday, June 29, 2010

1142 Bedford Avenue - Brightness/Contrast

Oh, 1142 Bedford....... It's not so much that you're homely (and you are), it's more a matter of contrast.

This building went up on the northwest corner of Bedford and Monroe, in Bed-Stuy. At the time of its design, one block away at the corner of Gates Avenue, on the same corresponding corner lot, there existed a beautiful old building housing a community mental health center. See below.

To the neighborhood's dismay, this building (1124 Bedford) was torn down, even though it was still perfectly structurally sound, to make way for a condo tower. And while this is super-unfortunate, the new tower at 1124 is actually not bad as midrise condo towers go. It is well-detailed, with a classy metal storefront system, dark red brick facade and a decorative cornice that looks surprisingly appropriate. Nothing special, but worthy at least of the status of extra in the cast of NYC's built environment. It is nearing completion now.

Unfortunately, back down the block at Monroe Street, 1142 did not fare so well. This lot fell victim to the usual modern plague of mediocre grey brick, cheap clear aluminum metal detailing, non-functional balconies, and overall absence of any narrative or character. The design also has a serious massing issue-- the bottom corner of the building is all glass, and there is no celebrated structural element in the vicinity. Therefore, the building appears to neither 'float' above the glass storefront nor 'rest' on top of it. Instead, the whole building appears to sit precariously on the site, resting its entire weight on the flimsy and awkward aluminum glass mullions.
Unfortunate. And it looks even worse because you can see the same design problem solved so much more eloquently, only a single block away. Note to the designers: as soon as you build something permanent, it can immediately be seen by everyone in context with its neighbors. There's a chance that its neighbors will be a lot better lookin'. So step up! And fuck you, 1142 Bedford!

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