Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The AIA's Ugliest Building List

The American Institute of Architects' NYC chapter has published its list of the city's top ten uglies buildings. Here's the link: http://www.designtaxi.com/news/32292/AIA-Calls-New-York-Times-Building-Ugliest/?page=2

I gotta say, this is a strange list, given that it has supposedly been compiled by architects.

First off, why would the NYT Building make the top spot? Sure, it is 'old' and 'grey' like the paper, and certainly less inspired than nearly all of Renzo Piano's other buildings, but, really? the ugliest in the city? The building was surely designed to connote respectability and sobriety, a fitting request from the most trusted newspaper in the country. If you'll recall, the Seagram building was designed to be banal for the same reason--so people would respect Seagram as a veritable business, even though they make a product that gets people drunk. But the AIANY would never dream of putting the Seagram Building on this list, probably because of the bizarre deification of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe by the architectural elite, even though Mies is basically the inventor of modern ugly. And furthermore, if "God is in the details", as Mies famously stated, then Piano's NYT building is far superior to any of Mies' famous works.

Second, why the Bear Stearns headquarters? Are some of the AIANY members still angry at the company for fucking up their retirement funds? This skyscraper is nothing spectacular, but it is certainly far more elegant than the majority of its' neighbors in Midtown. I gotta say though, I do agree with the AIA's inclusion of the Trump buildings.

Hey AIA, here's a few biggies that you bizarrely overlooked:

1 Penn Plaza - Not only is this one of the most uninspired designs in the city, it also lies on the hallowed ground of the old Penn Station, the greatest building ever to be demolished in NYC.

MetLife Building - Sorry Philip Johnson, you fail. This drab monstrosity would be bad enough on a normal block of Midtown, but it also sits in between two of the city's treasures, the New York Central tower and Grand Central Terminal, and casts is foreboding shadow over both.

Verizon Building - Please, please give me a facelift.

Javits Center - the 'Death Star on the Hudson'. This has got to be the ugliest convention center on the planet. It looks like this is where you go if you want to get transformed in to a robot and simultaneously have your soul sucked out. Even FXFowle's new project to renovate the building won't save this thing from scaring little children.

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