Range of View

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As a relative newcomer to the city, I was fascinated by all the things one could see on a day to day basis.  All the people, places and general busy-ness going on in the city provides endless material for observation.  Climbing on to the roof of a building and peering down on the city from above provides one with an even more radical perspective on city life.  Your range of view is wider and what you see increases by 100 fold.  

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Now, what if I lived perched on the parapet of a building since 1977 like this owl?  Imagine what it has seen, and how the city it spends its life observing has changed before its very eyes.

 

-by Augustus Dane 

 

Ten Pyramids

Everyone remembered them. Ten angular pyramids, each towering ten feet above the endemic zoning setbacks that define this vertical factory district. Back in 1928, the mechanized Art Deco style contrasted with the soft fur coats manufactured under their guard.

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Everyone remembered how they had been ignobly removed in some desperate and impecunious past, their severed stumps cauterized with mastic and sealed with a copper band-aid. They were leaking. It must have been leaks. Six of them had been spared (who knows why?), six halcyon reminders reflecting in the blue glass of cheap hotels. The result is a disappointing farrago; some setbacks with pyramids and some without. It would be easy to replicate the survivors and restore the facade to its original appearance. A wrong would be righted.

But they were never there. Looking closely at Henry Oser’s old, smudgy drawings it is clear that some things have changed, but not the pyramids. He meant to put them on some floors and not others. Was he inspired? Inconsistent? On a budget? There is a reason everyone remembered the pyramids where there are none; they look like they’re missing. Just to be sure, we pried off a copper band-aid. Underneath was glazed terra cotta; it never had another piece on top. 

Everyone wants to remember them. To remember how they were ignobly removed. Had the original drawings been destroyed, the microfiche illegible, or the building records misfiled in a bureaucratic black hole, we would have ‘restored’ the ten ‘missing’ pyramids. We would have congratulated ourselves for a job well done, for completing a building comprised by time. However, thanks to an assiduous archivist and diligent researcher it was hard to convince ourselves that we could put the pyramids back, or rather that we should add new ones where there had never been any. The distinction is important because it defines our intention. In this case, intention transforms the very same materials from historic preservation to historicist imitation. The intention behind design, however, is often invisible. One has to know the story. One has to remember them, the mythical pyramids, to remember how they were ignobly removed, and to remember how they were never there.

 

 

-by Adam Kaleb Poole

 

Hot off the Presses: APRIL

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Oscar Season might be old news, but a smashing caftan is never old hat, which is precisely why the gold caftan Meryl Streep wears in Steven Speilberg’s Pentagon Papers newsroom drama The Post will always be newsworthy. You can do endless “Where Are They Now?” pieces about it, because there’s not a day that goes by when I don’t ask myself that very question about that very caftan. Moreover, now that the New York weather is *allegedly* warming up, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll wear to the beach. Just kidding! You already know it’s a caftan, because if you’re anything like me, you burn easily and your beach body is more like beach blobby, so why not take a page from the *other* Divine Miss M and work. That. CAFTAN!  

Speaking of caftans, CTA has been in the news an awful lot lately, so much so that you might say the news has really been flowing…like a caftan! Let’s take a look the latest stories, shall we?

 

  • First off is an article from the Irish Post, Irish famine memorial in New York reopens after $5 million investment. If this story were a caftan, I imagine it’d be shamrock green with (pot o’) gold embroidery. Since it’s imported all the way from Ireland, you’d probably pay extra, but that’s a price worth paying to sashay about in the sartorial splendor of the luck of the Irish.

 

 

 

  • World Landscape Architect did their own Irish Hunger Memorial story, Renovation of Irish Hunger Memorial complete, and I find this story exciting because it’s *World* Landscape Architect. Much like the perfect combination of comfort, form, and function that is the caftan, CTA is going global, y’all! 

 

  • And lastly, to paraphrase Dr. Frank N. Furter in Rocky Horror Picture Show, if you want something visual, here’s a brief new NBC 4 New York piece featuring our very own Frank Scanlon: Irish Hunger Memorial opens for St. Patrick’s Day. Frank N. Furter was a huge proponent of pearl necklaces and pink surgical gloves, but alas, not caftans, which is a cruel reminder that nobody is perfect.

 

Well, that’s it for the latest in CTA’s news cycle. When Steven Spielberg makes a movie about it, who do you think will play me? And more importantly, will they wear that caftan?!?

 

Anatomy of a building.

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Any building will have internal organs. This pre-war building on the Hudson just so happens to have its water tank (stomach?) and elevator machine (muscle?) housed in a beautiful bulkhead (cranium?) guarded by terra cotta eagles (white blood cells?).

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- By Shukri Sindi

 

Piece of Art or Piece of .....?

These two buildings were built by non-architects. The first Is called Palazzio Chupi by the artist Julian Schnabel.  The first time I came across it, I was biking down 11th street. I was completely in shock when I saw it, and immediately took out my phone like a tourist and captured a picture. 

Later, I was so curious about why and what this building was all about that the architecture geek in me googled the location. I found that this controversial building was meant to be a historic renovation of that house (?!!), but was not designed by an actual architect or historic preservation specialist. 

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This building has many critical responses. Art critic Dodie Kazanjian called it a "piece of art" and Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, describes Schnabel's building as "woefully out of context and a monument to this guy's ego." 

You be the judge.

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The second building is clearly not designed by an architect. It is a classic "quick-fix" of an old building in Jersey City by a developer or landlord.

It almost looks like "art", or like two conjoined twins who decided to be separated at one point in their life to collect rent and move on.

Unfortunately, there is no art critic commenting on this "art piece". But as a young junior architect myself (a nobody), I think these two buildings can be both: a piece of art or piece of ..... and that's what makes me like architecture. The architect and architecture don't matter most of the time. Buildings speak for themselves with their character and personality. 

 

by Sean Esrafily