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Enthused

Some thoughts on the soldered model after Tuesday:

The new towers of Billionaire’s Row are the product of financial calculations. Their form is the evidence of rationalist thought processes that are concerned with core efficiencies and net floor areas: the building as a product. When we speak of the ‘anti-tower’ what does it react against? It exists in an alien context; the Projects of East Harlem are transposed to a luxury proposition, becoming a kind of architectural exquisite corpse. It also challenges quantitative design practices through the introduction of intuitive processes with their own inherently oppositional formalist outcomes. Where the tower is rational, the anti-tower is irrational. Where the tower is designed around the grid, the anti-tower is designed between the grid. Where the tower observes the (artificial) nature of Central Park, the anti-tower subsumes the urbanity of the Midtown block with(?_). Where the tower is materially decadent, the anti-tower is materially impoverished and must be polished before it is accepted by its new context.

The soldered model embodies some of these ideas. I wouldn’t claim it has a visual analogue in East Harlem beyond the prevalence of raw, unfinished steel, but it is a useful touchstone for thinking about these ideas regarding the anti-tower. Neither do I intend it to act as a blueprint for a proposal, but may rather form the basis of a particular moment or space within a larger building, hybridising the rational with the irrational.

Some thoughts on programme (in no particular order or hierarchy and any potential combination):

a burrito restaurant on the 90th floor (East Harlem is aka “Spanish Harlem” to locals)
a valet (the semi-circular driveway to the rear of the Park Lane Hotel was one of the reasons listed for it’s listing in the Preservation Report)
public space
social housing provision
luxury condominiums

I am increasingly drawn to the proposal of a new hotel. The current Park Lane Hotel is making money, enough money to service the debt taken on by Witkoff in purchasing the building as explained in the interview with a New York business journal (link somewhere in this post)…

Hotel Theresa East Harlem

Hotel Theresa, George & Edward Blum (1912-13): the “Waldorf of Harlem”. Love the way the building takes the window pattern of Harlem and basically does exactly what I’d like to do; breaking up and embellishing the elevation. Blum used terracotta to create their ornamentation, but what could be done with limestone in the context of Midtown? Adding to the draft of the uncanny drawing I posted on Tuesday:

Uncanny Drawing v01 Screenshot 01

Uncanny Drawing v01 Screenshot 02

3 thoughts on “Enthused

  1. Great to be thinking through what is really meant by anti tower. In reading your list of tower vs anti I found myself asking why the anti tower was in fact a tower at all. Or rather what made it a tower. Did the antitower strive to become a tower or did constraints or forces make it a tower? I am interested in your statement that the anti tower is designed without the grid or in between the grid. Dig deeper into what you mean by this. What is pushing up the anti tower? Your project is so much about forces. In thinking about how the antitower declares or betrays its forces you might think about labour forces that literally give verticality to towers, and forces in the landscape that give rise to mountain ranges. Is landscape movement irrational? What if the management of a construction force goes awry, becomes irrational? Is it working in service of something such as individual expression rather than delivering a brief? (The Watts towers were imagined and built by a single construction worker http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2011/aug/25/watts-tower-los-angeles-sculpture Whereas in a gothic cathedral you find huge variety in the carving as each craftsman took opportunity for his own expression or to show his skill)

    How do you intend the drawing to achieve the uncanny? Looking forward to seeing this develop for Thursday.

    The idea of a hotel returns to a question that came up before and I think is quite important, in this context – is luxury or desirability in location or design?

    You ask what can be done with limestone in your context. To ‘draw for’ the kinds of forms suggested by limestone might be very different to your wire frame drawings. The points at the top of your post that you investigated through your drawings and model, can you investigate these in drawing weighted in limestone?

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