floors are high-ceilinged, unencumbered, and spacious enough to
host an Ultimate Frisbee tournament, with wraparound views of brick
and brownstone landmarks. IBM’s Watson team is moving in, hoping
perhaps that the area’s creative aura will enlighten its engineers.
The mirrored façade seems to sharpen reflections to a higher
resolution than reality itself. Architects love to pretend that
reflective structures ‘dematerialize’—that is, disappear—but Maki’s
building is a solid object, black and glossy and timeless as a
Steinway grand, expressing itself in an architectural language that
is incomprehensible around here.”
—That is perhaps a too-polite way of saying “51 Astor Place is so frighteningly hideous that it makes the Sculpture for Living look like Santa Maria del Fucking Fiore. It’s like the new Cooper Union building is holding your arms behind your back so that 40 Bond can run up the block and take a shit in your eyes. It’s like the ground vomited up glass and metal in an arrangement designed to make sure that the only characteristic one would take away from it was ‘stomp up and down on your testicles until they are a pulpy mass of blood and bruise ugly.'” But maybe language like that is why I am not an architecture writer; I lack the necessary technical vocabulary and studied restraint to convey the correct kind of criticism. Anyway, the building is aesthetically displeasing.
Photo by edenpictures, via Flickr