If wishes were wrecking balls…well, then Manhattan would have some gaping holes courtesy of Nicolai Ouroussoff (who wouldn’t look half-bad in a hard hat, we must say). The New York Times‘ Man on Buildings recently penned a demolition wish list for Gotham, because, Ouroussoff notes with a Dickensian flair, “Even the most majestic cities are pockmarked with horrors.” Although notable for its restraint when it comes to the AT&T building (“Its farcical Chippendale top was an instant hit, and a generation of architects grew up believing that any tower, no matter how cheap and badly designed, could be defended if you added a pretty fillip to the roof”), Ouroussoff’s list is both ruthless and amusingly annotated. Here’s what he’d just as soon see vaporized:
Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. “One of the city’s most dehumanizing spaces: a warren of cramped corridors and waiting areas buried under the monstrous drum of the Garden.”
Trump Place. “A cheap, miserable contribution to an area of the city already in need of some mending, this luxury residential complex is about as glamorous as a toll plaza.”
Javits Center. Sorry Pei Cobb Freed & Partners, but this building “cuts Midtown off from the waterfront,” while a “black glass exterior gives it the air of a gigantic mausoleum.” Why not repurpose it for “housing [rather] than as a shed for dog shows and car fanatics”?
Annenberg Building, Mt. Sinai Medical Center. Resembling “either a military fortress or the headquarters of a sinister spy agency,” this hostility-evoking structure is the product of “a vision conceived without compassion.”
375 Pearl Street. “A unique kind of horror,” it frequently compels Ouroussoff to “throw [his] cellphone at the building.”
Astor Place “would seem more comfortable in a suburban office park.”
2 Columbus Circle. Shield your eyes, lollipop fans, for he finds the new Museum of Arts and Design “a mild, overly polite renovation that obliterates the old while offering us nothing breathtakingly new.”