Monday, January 09, 2006

2 Columbus Circle

I don't write enough about New York-y topics, so perhaps one of my New Years Resolutions should be to write more about the city. I'm particularly fond of architecture and urban development issues, so this posting is about a minor controversy that's been going on for awhile, the reconstruction (deconstruction?) of 2 Columbus Circle.

The building is a museum, built in the 60s to house a gallery of modern art. It was immediately controversial, what with its nearly windowless marble facade and weird arches near the top. An architecture critic called it a "die-cut Venetian palazzo on lollipops". I never really liked it. For me, it's somewhat irritating to look at, too monolithic, out of place, and badly dated.

Despite New York City's fairly recent decision to preserve historic buildings (started after the fantastic Penn Station was knocked down in 1964), this one didn't make the cut. Not without protest, however. Many of the preservationist groups in the city strongly argued for it to be preserved as-is, and various lawsuits went back and forth for several years.

But, as of last year, they lost, and the Museum of Arts and Design is in the process of completely remodeling it. I managed to walk past the building yesterday without noticing that it's now shrouded in construction scaffolding. When the scaffolding is removed, the building will be reborn, as... something at least as garish. Drat. Oh, well. I'll go to the museum when it opens next year, since I like some of the things they show, like art glass and industrial design, but I reserve the right to roll my eyes while entering the building...



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