New Architecture of Manhattan

John Jay Chapman once wrote that "the present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost." With the surge of historic preservation in the last hundred years, Chapman may seem outdated; however New York remains, after all, the city that laid was... more

John Jay Chapman once wrote that "the present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost." With the surge of historic preservation in the last hundred years, Chapman may seem outdated; however New York remains, after all, the city that laid waste to the original Pennsylvania Station—which was every bit as grand, and every bit as magnificent as Grand Central—simply because we needed the space for a new building. The city is constantly reinventing itself, architecturally, with new buildings—some of the most innovative and eye-catching designs this side of Beijing—springing up with alarming frequency. For visitors to New York and the lovers of all things architectural, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the newest and most intriguing of the current class of buildings sprouting from the granite foundations of the island. First off, we’ll visit 15 Central Park West (between 61st and 62nd Streets), the new luxury condominium building from Robert A.M. Stern, where the gigantic limestone construction—a main building and a tower to the rear—rise 19 and 35 stories respectively over the trees of Central Park. In a city of many new glass towers, Stern's construction stands out for... more

John Jay Chapman once wrote that "the present in New York is so powerful that the past is lost." With the surge of historic preservation in the last hundred years, Chapman may seem outdated; however New York remains, after all, the city that laid waste to the original Pennsylvania Station—which was every bit as grand, and every bit as magnificent as Grand Central—simply because we needed the space for a new building. The city is constantly reinventing itself, architecturally, with new buildings—some of the most innovative and eye-catching designs this side of Beijing—springing up with alarming frequency. For visitors to New York and the lovers of all things architectural, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to the newest and most intriguing of the current class of buildings sprouting from the granite foundations of the island.

First off, we’ll visit 15 Central Park West (between 61st and 62nd Streets), the new luxury condominium building from Robert A.M. Stern, where the gigantic limestone construction—a main building and a tower to the rear—rise 19 and 35 stories respectively over the trees of Central Park. In a city of many new glass towers, Stern's construction stands out for its conception of classic elements of luxury construction.

Just a few blocks south on Central Park West is Columbus Circle, one of the few geometrically accurate names in the city, where the relatively-new Time Warner Center stands, two black towers affixed on a wider structure that spans two city blocks between 58th and 60th Streets, and features luxury apartments, a swank mall, and spectacular views.

Two blocks south, on Eighth Avenue between 57th and 58th Strets, you’ll find the original Hearst Building—named for the newspaper robber baron who was the model on which Citizen Kane was based—circumscribing the new Hearst Tower, a glassy geometric oddity designed by Pritkzer Prize-winning architect Norman Foster that was New York City’s first completed "green" building. One avenue block away at the corner of 55th Street and Ninth Avenue is the famed Alvin Ailey American Dance Foundation, which houses the Alvin Ailey Dance School and Theater and was designed to make the dancers voyeuristically easy-to-watch.

For ease of transit, if you’d rather not walk the next twelve blocks, you can catch a cab down Ninth Avenue (tell the driver to make a left on 42nd and then again on Eighth Avenue, where you’ll get out at 43rd Street) to the Westin Hotel. An obviously modern building, the Westin features a wealth of questionably-colored windows on its façade and a gently curving, illuminated stripe going from the top of the split-level roof straight into the atrium inside the hotel lobby. Just a block east on the far corner of 42nd Street and Broadway is the relatively young (for New York) Conde Nast building, also know as 4 Times Square. Built in 1995 as a speculative design and filled to occupancy immediately upon opening by magazine scribes, the hybrid of glass façade and a more traditional office building aesthetic is topped with a newly-improved and enlarged 300-foot high antenna intended to replace the television and radio broadcasting equipment destroyed along with south and north towers of the World Trade Center in 2001. Foodies take note: The employees-only Conde Nast cafeteria is considered second only to that of the Googleplex for its fascinating and myriad offerings. Around the corner at 40th Street and Eighth Avenue is a building notable firstly for the amount of people that have climbed it in the past year. It is the recently completed New York Times Building, constructed by the same firm that is redeveloping the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn. The building’s exterior is wrapped in a lattice-work curtain that camouflages most of the building’s windows and stands tied for third-tallest in the city with the historic Chrysler Building.

Another long walk—perhaps along the beautiful West Side Hudson River Park overlooking the Hudson River and the shoreline of New Jersey, maybe even with a stop at Chelsea Piers for some practice with your golf swing—will find you at the curvy Frank Gehry creation for InterActiveCorp (IAC). The building is all slopes and spirals, looking something like a porcelain version of a snow peak. It all depends on the time of day, though: during the night, the soft beige lights of the building make it glow more like one of Indiana Jones's river stones.

A few blocks down and a few east back to Ninth Ave brings you to the site of the Porter House, an apartment house with a newly construct, black-and-white addition cleaved straight into the original structure. The visual effect is both jarring and somehow pleasant at the same time; these are some of New York's most prized condominiums. Just two blocks down right in front of you is the Hotel Gansevoort, a stylish new building standing where one of the many fast-disappearing parking lots of New York once was. Designed with the hotels and buildings of Miami in mind, it features lights on the top floor’s windows that reach up to the curved canopy above the roof; smaller lights stumbling down from the underside of the hotel’s balconies. A block west on 13th Street you can see the Standard Hotel under construction, straddling abandoned train tracks and apparently annoying every nouveau-riche resident of the Meatpacking District. While the original design proposed a massive single tower on one side of the tracks and a small, curving building connected to the tower by enclosed skyways, the cries of protest from the neighborhood led the designers to compromise by splitting the tower in half, with each separate building on either side of the tracks. The building itself looks like Ikea furniture—which is to say it’s odd enough to be intriguing—but what makes the building truly interesting is how the construction accommodates the existing landscape. After, in New York, the structure is only half of the story, if not less, most of the time.

Straight down Washington Street—from the Meatpacking District to the West Village—are 173 & 176 Perry Street, two ultra-modern residential buildings that stand as sentries to the western entrance of Perry Street along the West Side Highway. Constructed by "rationalist" architect Richard Meier, these 16-story towers overlook the Hudson River and utilize concrete cores—the support structures that keep the building from collapsing—that skew closer to the Manhattan side of the buildings to retain more unobstructed views of the river. Meier, incidentally, is a member of a group of architects known as the "New York Five"—a group of architectural modernists who sought to simplify and advance the aesthetics of building design and were derided by another group of five architects who championed a more contextual, synergistic system of design in which buildings reflected the aesthetics of their location. One of these architects—referred to as the "Grays" in a symbolically appropriate response to Meier’s group, who were called the "Whites" for their purist view of design—was the architect Richard A.M. Stern, whose 15 Central Park West building began our tour. Tower number three is still under construction here.

You are faced here with either a thirteen-block walk or a three-minute cab ride down the West Side Highway—the stretch dedicated to Yankee legend Joe Dimaggio—to Spring Street, just before the Holland Tunnel. At 330 Spring Street, on the corner of Washington Street, is a building known as both the Urban Glass House and "UGH"—the latter used mostly by local residents who were put off by the construction and design of the building. Referred to as giant "high-end audio equipment" by some, the Urban Glass House is an extension of architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut, a 12-story experiment in minimal wall space and maximum window size. A block east is the wavy façade of 497 Greenwich Street, a reinvented warehouse with a ten-thousand square foot "curtain-wall" of curving green glass integrated directly into the existing brick building.

Catch another cab, this time down Spring Street towards the SoHo neighborhood, and go one block south on Mercer to see the building at 40 Mercer Street, a likely compatriot for the UGH, with its large windows (purportedly the "largest sheets [of glass]… ever used in residential construction) and minimalist design. Upper-level residents can mechanically raise or lower their particular glass panes for a bit of that SoHo breeze.

Back up to Prince Street and east to Bowery, the intersection where the New Museum Of Contemporary Art resides. Designed by Tokyo firm SANAA as a response to both the museum’s modern nature and the area’s already existing milieu, the skewed white cubes allow each floor to have skylights and suffuse the museum with natural light—not to mention a roof terrace on the seventh floor. As for the interior fixtures, think IKEA. Back up Bowery to Houston, the building taking up the city block between Bowery and Chrystie Street is the Avalon Chrystie, a mixed residential and commercial building that will be joined by a similarly-designed but glass-heavy structure on the north side of Houston Street, facing the existing building. The Avalon buildings are both a boon to the area and a scourge to its residents, as construction of the northern building—"Phase II" of three—is already underway. If you're hungry at this point, stop in to Whole Foods for a meal at one of its several dining areas upstairs, or perhaps just for top-quality ice cream from Il Laboratio del Gelato stationed on the ground floor. Also note the clever Beer Store adjacent to the main grocery store.

From here the tour continues north to the NoHo section of the island. Make a left on Bond Street from the Bowery, two blocks north from the Avalon Christie (Phase I), where you'll find 25 and 40 Bond Street, nearly facing each other. 25 Bond has an asymmetrical white stone façade that recalls a sort of lazy version of the Lincoln Center’s design, while 40 Bond is a deep green color thanks to the stained glass framework in which the actual windows are set, giving the building the appearance of a cast iron façade that can play tricks with sunlight. Think Barcelona's Gaudi meets the Paris Métro creations of Hector Guimard when you consider the brilliant metal latticework of this Herzog + DeMeuron creation.

Back to the Bowery, where a trip north three blocks takes you to Cooper Square, where the new Cooper Square Hotel looms over another example of New York’s inaccurate geometry (Cooper Square is a triangle) as an example of geometric diversity. Designed by the studio of "starchitect" Carlos Zapata, the angles and curves dovetailing together to create this lanky hotel are an aesthetic fibrillation for the area. Similarly, the One Astor Place building two blocks north on the opposite side of the Square is another wavy, glassy building intended to modernize an otherwise brick-and-mortar party in an area already undergoing rapid gentrification as New York University (NYU) continues to buy property in the Greenwich Village area. As an end-point for this tour, though, NYU is pretty good—a leisurely stroll west on Eighth Street will take you to Fifth Avenue, where you can head south and enter Washington Square Park through its well-known arch, an approximation of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and enjoy the greenery or the street musicians while you give your tired feet a much-needed rest.

Off Our Beaten Path
These buildings may be outside our self-contained walking tour, but they're no less interesting.

Louis Vuitton Headquarters
19 E. 57th St

If architects continue to design these curved-glass buildings, aliens will think we've never heard of a ruler! While this building is reminiscent of Frank Gehry's IAC building, there's almost a suit-and-tie feel to it, a reserved stance that comes from the main tower's inset position from the street.


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Use the arrow buttons to navigate down the street and around the neighborhood!

Upper West Side Description

New Architecture of Manhattan is located in the Upper West Side neighborhood of Manhattan. The home of diverse cultural attractions, the Upper West side is sandwiched between Riverside Park to the west and Central Park to the east. Both parks are excellent leisurely green spaces to spend a day. Central Park is especially notable, as it is New York’s "flagship" park. With over 843 acres of land, it is home to 275 species of birds. It’s quite easy to spend an entire day there too, as the park has several restaurants on its perimeter, a Boathouse, a Carousel, ball fields, a running track, reservoir, sculptures of Alice in Wonderland and Shakespeare, and a nearly endless list of events and other attractions.

In addition to being the most densely populated area of the United States, the Upper West Side is the home of several academic institutions and a litany of famous people too numerous to list here. The American Museum of Natural History is among the most notable museum in the neighborhood. This world-famous museum is comprised of several different Halls, each dedicated to a particular theme. The museum's exhibition-halls house a stunning array of artifacts and specimens from all corners of the world and all historical periods including some magnificent dinosaur fossils. Other nearby cultural institutions worth checking out include the New York Historical Society, and the new Rose Center for Earth and Space which houses the Hayden Planetarium; the most technologically advanced Space Theater in existence.

The Upper West Side also contains some of the greatest venues to hear classical music. There is the Metropolitan Opera House —one of the world’s leading opera companies since its opening in 1883—as well asAvery Fisher Hall, Alice Tully Hall and the renowned New York City Opera. Additionally both The Julliard School and Fordham University grace the area.

You’re bound to get hungry while visiting the neighborhood, but fear not -there are plenty of famous places to nosh or grab some classic New York smoked salmon in the Upper West Side. There’s Zabar’s—a heavenly deli if there ever was one; Fairway Market which has a huge, gourmet selection of just about everything; Citarella, with fresh fish and much more; and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop—just to name a few. If you're looking for a more substantial meal, head to Prohibition, an upscale restaurant and bar. The interior, which invokes the glamour and romance of the Prohibition-Era style of the twenties and early thirties, helps create terrific ambience. All of this has made Prohibition a mainstay on the Upper West Side. There's also the takeout booth at Carmine's. Carmine's simple and very popular concept is to serve every meal in the style of an Italian American wedding feast - which means large portions of homestyle antipasti, pastas, seafood and meat entrees served on large platters designed for sharing. And when we say large, we mean large; an entree here could easily feed three to four average eaters. After your weekend mid-day meal, take a walk back through Riverside Park or stroll down Riverside Drive and admire the impressive monuments, grand apartment buildings, and views of the Hudson River, all while burning off a few calories of course.

Given the number of attractions and cultural institutions in the neighborhood, the Upper West Side is an ideal location to spend your stay in New York. The charming Excelsior Hotel is located right near the Museum of Natural History and Central Park. Meanwhile, the cozy and reasonably priced Belnord Hotel is another conveniently located option for the budget conscious traveler, as is the Comfort Inn Central Park West.

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