Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Midtown Manhattan and its Admirable Architecture

Midtown Manhattan has long been known for its spectacular architecture.  Being home to some of the city’s most iconic buildings (including the Chrysler, Empire State, and UN HQ), as well as the world’s largest central business district, it perhaps should not come as much of a surprise that there is often talk of buildings that were, constructions that are and architectural designs that are in process.  In this article, we take a closer look at some of them.

Executive Director of AIA New York State, Georgi Ann Bailey believes there are 25 must-see buildings in New York.  Two of these are in the Midtown Manhattan area.  One is the main branch of the New York Public Library.  Designed by architects John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings, this is the entity’s flagship building and a “prominent historic landmark” in the midtown area.  It is also a very old building (opening its doors in 1911) and today its 646,680 square feet boasts a 52 foot high ceiling in its famous Rose Main Reading Room, filled with thousands of reference materials on open shelves, furnished with brass lamps, comfy chairs and sturdy wood tables. Of course the grand chandeliers add to the grandiose nature of the building as well.

The other one included in that list in the area was designed by architects Edward Durell Stone and Philip L. Goodwin, with a remodel by Philip Johnson, and Yoshio Taniguchi. New York’s
Museum of Modern Art, can be found on 53rd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues.   It has been hailed as being one of the world’s largest and most influential modern art museums.

Then there are the upcoming constructions. Amy Plitt in an article in NYCurbed  took a look at the construction on Jean Nouvel’s Midtown supertall (already in progress for a year now) which is finally taking shape.  Noting its distinctive diagrid, this is quite an exciting time for midtown’s architecture.
Another one to watch is New York’s Only If Architecture which designed a mirror-filled space to be used by three companies in a very minimalist style.  With 18,000 square feet at its disposal, this will feature both open and closed work areas as well as a showroom made out of modular rolling elements.  In addition, surfaces will be in black and white and have a very organized feel.
So, there is a lot of interesting building in midtown Manhattan of note today.

Pastimes in the Park

There’s nothing like the beginning of summer to start enjoying the outdoors.  And midtown Manhattan is great for that, especially when it comes to parks, given the Parks and Rec organization.

Last month, Bryant Park had its official annual summer opening ceremony.  Those present were able to tromp over the freshly grown grass, crushing it with picnic blankets.  This is because, every year, the lawn there is torn out and regrown in spring for those to enjoy in the summer.  With the new lawn open, the city has put together a calendar of events, such as outdoor theater, meditation and dance classes and nighttime yoga.

In other park-related news in the region, Manhattaners should take advantage of the green space that surrounds the American Museum of Natural History. At the Theodore Roosevelt Park, an initiative from Parks Without Borders is seeking approval to progress in this project.  Director of Long Range Policy and Planning of the Institute, Sarah Nielsen said the aim is to “make parks more open and welcoming and beautiful by improving entrances, edge and park-adjacent spaces.” As co-manager of the Theodore Roosevelt Park Project, she will lead a study on how the space is used and to determine what improvements might be viable.  The idea is to really investigate – and improve on – the current status of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, in June and July, there will be a variety of family-based activities including: circus arts, children’s rapper and Beatles tribute band, all free for residents.  The Manhattan Parks and Rec organization (mentioned above) has been putting these concerts on for the last four decades.  They will all be held at the Larry Norvell Band Shell (City Park) and commence at 8pm.