Glass, Concrete, and Stone

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New York Magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson takes a building-by-building look at New York's architecture boom.

What recent building do you love or hate? Comment below!


Justin Davidson

Comments [27]

Calford Scott from E 925nd st Brooklyn

Sorry you did not mention the monstrocity on Eastern Parkway at Grand Army Plaza opposite the Library. All glass amid some of the best of New York's 19th and 20th century stone work. This is so out of caracter that even the lay man has commented on it. It is over a year now and I am still waiting to life in it.

Sep. 18 2008 04:18 PM
Ayanna from Brooklyn, NY

The guest should stay away from any indirect social commentary, such as his comment, without qualification, that these buildings "improve" neighborhoods. To me, while some are interesting and attractive and some are not, the bigger story is how they symbolize the wholesale gentrification of New York, which is becoming a city of zero economic diversity. Sorry, but that's not an improvement to me.

Sep. 18 2008 12:44 PM
anonyme from NY NY

i am sick of glass buildings and the feeling of sterility they impart in general when they take over. I also dislike them for taking away all our mom and pops and subjecting us to more atms and walgreens. Glass no longer look fresh and new as it once did - Also I can't believe this guy knows nothing about how dangerous all that glass will be to all of us in the inevitable hurricane! For Pete's sake they wouldn't even stay on the conde nast bldg and the bank of america bldg when first constructed. I am really starting to detest New York.

Sep. 18 2008 12:18 PM
O from Forest Hills

Michael, they usually have a thing where listen through the webpage after 1pm.

Sep. 18 2008 12:12 PM

It was so disappointing that the site could not handle the traffic during the broadcast!

I guess I will have to listen again to the podcast tomorrow.

Sep. 18 2008 12:11 PM
O from Forest Hills


Sounds like time for fall cleaning! There is a simple elegance and beauty in an open airy space that can't have too much clutter.

I read a book a day but I donate them or recycle them. I don't like clutter and think it detracts from the beauty of the place.

I love these glass buildings. They are very modern and hip.

Sep. 18 2008 12:10 PM


Sep. 18 2008 12:01 PM
Matt from Manhattan

"Impoverished neighborhoods have improved" I think should be qualified - how and who is benefitting?

Sep. 18 2008 11:59 AM
anonyme from NY NY

Too much of a good thing?

This guy is strictly aesthetic in focus - and i am over all that glass aesthetically - and I really am concerned about hurricanes! I think it's cold and impersonal and I think enough is enough

too much glass renders an area sterile

PS the site is really really slow today!

Sep. 18 2008 11:58 AM
Mark from Manhattan

THe WNYC website seems to be crashing from everyone trying to get a look

Sep. 18 2008 11:58 AM
Jon from West Village

I live at the top of a building 1 block from the Richard Meir buildings on the West Side HW.

I've watched the last (southernmost) building be completed and become occupied.

It's been an interesting experience to watch new couples move in, not appreciating they were now living basically, outside. After a few weeks the blinds are forever drawn and the fun stops.

However after 3 years I have to conclude that these buildings are a failure as works of art and architecture.

They are beautiful on their own but in an environment like we have here they make no sense. No thought is given to the terrible reflections they throw on the streets and all the way down the pier, or that complete lack of any greenery which stands out terribly amongst the trees and ivy-covered rows of buildings, or the constant undulations of the glass in the wind which reflect a constant nervous energy to a community of homes. And ultimately, if you walk amongst them daily, they feel like office buildings dropped into a small European town.

Sorry -- but they are a complete failure for the neighborhood.

Sep. 18 2008 11:57 AM
Michael from Manhattan

I wonder if Mr. Davidson could comment on the privacy issues of glass buildings. I can see right into many livingrooms of the Richard Meier buildings, which is especially odd considering that very wealthy, very famous people tend to live there.
I'd also like to hear Mr. Davidson address the energy issues of glass buildings. They must turn into greenhouses at the slightest appearance of sun.

Sep. 18 2008 11:57 AM

I don't get all the residential buildings I see that are floor-to-ceiling glass. Who wants to live in a window display? Weird.

Sep. 18 2008 11:57 AM
Nicholas Bryan from NYC

In Houston, many windows in the JC MorganChase Building were blown out during hurricane.

Energy efficiency of glass is an issue.

Comment please

Sep. 18 2008 11:56 AM
Obi from NYC

I heard you mention Art Deco which I love. I know years ago Miami Beach had a big Art Deco restoration revolution and I understand they're starting to become popular in this area as well. For example, I've heard there is a huge Art Deco landmark being restored in Jersey City. I'd love to see a show done on Art Deco.

Sep. 18 2008 11:56 AM
Moiz Kapadia from NJ

ryan - i came on to post the exact point you are making, the energy efficiency of glass buildings always struggles to meet the energy code, and has implications on the amount of heating and cooling a building needs.

Sep. 18 2008 11:55 AM
Sandra from da Bronx

I love the Times Square Building and "Piggy Back" Buildings.

The rest look like Shanghai, China, where buildings seem to be dropped together piecemeal.

p.s. I don't DO windows!!! : )

Sep. 18 2008 11:52 AM
Sandra from da Bronx

I love the Times Square and "Piggy Back" Buildings.

The rest look like Shanghai, China, where buildings seem to be dropped together piecemeal. Where did NYC go???

p.s. I don't DO windows!!! : )

Sep. 18 2008 11:52 AM
RadRepub from Upper Left Side

Bad architecture is like pornography... you know it when you see it. The best example of that is the Hearst building on Eighth Avenue and 57th Street. It's so out of scale with the surrounding buildings, the monstrosity looks like an alien spaceship that was looking for Area 51 and ran out of gas and had to make an emergency landing.

Sep. 18 2008 11:52 AM
Matt from Manhattan

Is there any word on how the requirement of affordable housing is kept up? For these new buildings? And how is "affordable" determined?

Sep. 18 2008 11:51 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Isn’t the use of glass less about aesthetics and modernity and more about cost… Glass panels can get expensive, but they are also less intensive as far as field work goes and cheaper than some hand-laid brick, natural stone, elaborate terracotta or other claddings and fenestration details. A lot of glass decisions seem to be ones of economy and not expression.
Isn’t it the same as the International Style craze of the ‘50s and onward. It’s was popular because it was cheap by comparison. Imbedding any more meaning into it (such as voyeurism or exhibitionism or high-class style) seems disingenuous (to me).

Sep. 18 2008 11:47 AM
Steve Wing from Milford, Connecticut

Some glass buildings introduced to the cityscape are wonderful--acting like mirrors of the sky, street trees, and neighboring buildings. Too many glass buildings would cancel out this effect.

Sep. 18 2008 11:45 AM
Tommy Fabbricante from Work in Melville, Live in Lynbrook

What's great about your slide show is that I put the addresses into Google Maps, then do a Street View of all the addresses and get a better perspective of these great buildings working my way down the block! It's very cool!!!

Sep. 18 2008 11:37 AM
Ryan Enschede from Brooklyn NY

I don't see any mention of an important point here - all-glass facades are a step BACKWARDS in energy efficiency. The modern glazing used in these buildings is a poor insulator relative to any opaque wall, and all-glass facades create tremendous solar heat gains which must be mechanically removed, far outweighing any modest reduction in lighting demand.

A little more information. The thermal resistance ("R-value") of various wall constructions:

Typical double-glazing of the type in these buildings: approx. R-3
Triple-glazed window of the most cutting-edge type, NOT used in these buildings: approx. R-5 to R-15
Solid masonry wall of the type in the demolished buildings: approx. R-8
Generic 2x4 stud house wall with old-fashioned batt insulation: approx. R-25

Ryan Enschede, architect, brooklyn.

Sep. 18 2008 11:34 AM
Juliana from Prospect Hgts, Brooklyn

Oh, this is actually a video of favorite old building of mine on Broadway and East 11th Street in Manhattan. (I hope the commentary gives you a laugh!)

Nine Floors in a Stack


Sep. 18 2008 11:30 AM
Charlesbklyn from Park Slope

The new 14 story apartment buildings on 4th avenue in Park Slope are completely out of character with the surrounding neighborhoods. It is a shame there are not aesthetic requirements in the zoning laws.

Sep. 18 2008 10:36 AM

The apartment building on 2nd Ave. between 75th and 76th is totally out of sync with the neighborhood. In the past when a new building went up I evenutally got used to it being there, but not with this one. Every time I walk up 2nd Ave. I am still surprised to see it there.

Sep. 18 2008 05:50 AM

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