One Step too many…LES Towering….

Currently working on the ‘worship tower’ to the LES.

Im still trying to understand and develop the idea of the pilgrimage and what one may experience as you ascend/ descend the tower. Images below …

Any suggestions on the design of the tower are welcome! 🙂  I dont know If Im happy with the design… perhaps it feels too random at times..???


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I want this to be an act of procession, create a dialogue between the pilgrim, the building, its fabric and the LES- as these are essentially in a ‘sacred experience’ as they reach the summit – or the ‘alter’- Im thinking on a spiritual and church evoking design to the summit of the tower… so it reads as such… and the cautionary tale of the LES comes to light at the summit- when the future and past development core/ towers can be seen in the horizon showing the future and present development of the LES … bringing back the Koolhaas quote from Delirious New York.

“For the first time, Manhattan’s inhabitants can inspect their domain, to have a sense of the island as a whole is also to be aware of its limitations, the irrevocability of its containment. If this new consciousness limits the field of their ambition, it can only increase its intensity. Such inspections from above become a recurrent theme under Manhattanism; the geographical self-consciousness they generate is translated into spurts of collective energy, shared megalomaniac goals.”

The Summit – or an Alter to the LES ….






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 As the pilgrim ascent, there are viewports or bays that allows for a partial view out pointing out different aspects of the process of development and air rights issues in the LES – these are at lower levels as one reaches the point when the tower consumes the air right of its neighboring building.

The ascent upwards is enclosed and partial darkness reinforces the unknown experience of the pilgrim – with small thresholds allowing a view towards an impossible stair or a vertical drop – bringing the idea of fear and vertigo, as some pilgrims may feel in the journey.

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The interior spaces resemble The Cabinet of Dr Caligari – asymmetry and perspective as you ascent encloses over you or a stair that leads to nowhere.

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I also came across this church- Neviges Mariendom by nGottfried Böhm, which I thought the interiors are a representative of what I want in terms of atmosphere.

Architect: Gottfried Boehm, 1961 - 1973

Im still working on it, but I dont want to spend too much time either!  I will finish all the drawings of sites one and two and the pilgrimage route (as I will include the start at the Mosses and Jacobs Opera at the Washington Square, and the route through the Cast Iron District relating to facade collectibles cast models I made.

Slightly worried about the timeframe we have and the amount of work I still have to do in order to have a portfolio…

Im writing a list of what drawings I need and what I can physically do by may 13th, I’ll have that on Tuesday.




2 thoughts on “One Step too many…LES Towering….

  1. I think that the vertical stepped parts are disruptive to the design as this starts to suggest tower architecture, particularly the stepped NY skyscraper form, you want the design to be clearly a stair. I think focusing on the horizontal step will work towards this. Look again at the Escher and other stair precedents from the start of the year – the impossible stair – this part of your research was always working towards something that was recognized as a stair. Look at what the moments of disruption were in those stairs. I think when viewing the stair we should get a sense of progression, perhaps being able to follow the course up and here you can introduce disruptive devices that we talked about on Tuesday which work more towards a confusion of progression – such as dead ends and a receding perspective (this starts to come through in the third drawing) can introduce a confusion of scale that makes a space seem passable but when reached, is in fact surprisingly small. Working creatively with perspective could give a sense of great ascent or approach (within a restricted plan) which might work towards that desired experience of a ‘sacred’ approach.

    Again, in the second drawing I think there is too much emphasis on the vertical plane which suggests skyscraper architecture. You want to suggest the stair without the building. You might not want to necessarily think of the viewing opportunities as parts separate to the stair (such as the balconies). The stair itself could direct and pace the movement towards a stop and a moment to view. Such as a widening tread becoming the point to stop, or the misleading perspective that does not take you around a corner or into a depth but brings you up short at an opening believed to be much further ahead – the moment of confusion – of inability to pass any further could force an opportunity to stop and view.

    I think that you are starting to achieve these experiences in the 3rd drawing, just move away from the vertical planes. And the precedents you show are great for considering the interior. It will be important to have some drawings of your interior where you will have an opportunity to show that experience of the darkness, confusion, and where the architecture invites progression. I understand that you have much that you want to focus on but it is worth time getting this right as this is the climatic design of your project – and the research and analysis is already strong. You already have a good amount of work formatted so do not get anxious as this can lead to an unproductive panic – this is what could scupper you, not the progression or quality of the work. Remember to think about integrating tech and design drawings and the strategies we talked about for this – such as the line drawings with tech details in colour.

    Set yourself Tuesday as the deadline to resolve this design and then the conversation in the crit format can be used to refine it.

  2. Looking intriguing, Cris! The act of pilgrimage and the religious connotations reminded me of the Scala Regia in Rome. Standing at the entrance of St. Peter’s Basilica, looking west, the illusion of great distance is achieved by the convergence of the colonnades, pinching as they do so the long flight of steps that leads to the Vatican:

    Perhaps the plan of the tower could borrow a similar tactic, compressing the pilgrim in space before the release of the framed view of the city?

    Also those Hugh Ferriss zoning drawings you were looking at towards the start of the year – the way the tower is carved away would become a sort of trompe l’oeil were the diagram constructed in reality, warping the perception of distance and perspective.

    Exciting stuff, looking forward to seeing where it ends up!

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