one57-crane
In this week’s The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik reflects on life in big cities with big buildings in a critique of several books on the subject. In the course of his meditation on urbanity, Gopnik echoes this blogger’s habitual use of somewhat crude sexual metaphors to describe certain buildings on Manhattan’s Fifty-seventh Street. In 2011, in Crain’s New York, I called Extell’s One57 skyscraper “Mr. [Christian de] Portzamparc‘s midblock erection,” referring to its architect. Playing with the metaphor in 2012 in The Daily Beast, I described One57 developer Gary Barnett‘s Hurricane Sandy-savaged construction crane (pictured) as a “flaccid, dangling boom of doom…drooping next to Extell’s huge erection.” Now comes Gopnik. “The things that give cities a bad conscience are self-evident,” he writes. “Seeing the rise of 432 Park Avenue, the tallest, ugliest, and among the most expensive private residences in the city’s history—the Oligarch’s Erection, as it should be known—as a catchment for the rich from which to look down on everyone else, it is hard not to feel that the civic virtues of commonality have been betrayed.” Which reminded me of developer Aby Rosen‘s comparison of those same two towers in an interview with Spencer Bailey in Surface Magazine not long ago. “If you build a high-rise—50, 60, 70 stories—you have a civic obligation to build something with high quality that will last, because those buildings aren’t coming down for the next 100 years,” Rosen said. “157 West 57th Street, that ugly monster, is an atrocity, in my opinion. If you see the one that Harry Macklowe is building at 432 Park Avenue, it’s of equal size, but far more nimble and elegant and timeless.” As the saying goes, De gustibus non disputandum est. But I’m with Aby when it comes to comparing these two, er…towers of power.