Posts Tagged ‘architecture in New York City’

Futuristic housing never built in 1960s Harlem

September 13, 2012

Nuclear power plants? Landing pads for spaceships? Board game pieces?

Actually, they’re apartment buildings—and if visionary designer (some would say futuristic crackpot) Buckminster Fuller had his way, they may actually have been built in Harlem.

Fuller drew up these plans in 1964: His idea was to build 15 100-story structures spanning the entire width of Upper Manhattan, with each tower capable of housing 45,000 people.

It’s an intriguing idea—unless you had to live there.

But it wasn’t as crazy as Fuller’s 1960 plan, which was to cover Manhattan in a two-mile dome.

The point was to help control the weather and air pollution while keeping energy costs down.

Neither plan, of course, made it past fantasy stage.

Before there was an Empire State Building . . .

August 22, 2011

There was just the plain-old Empire Building, an 1898 neoclassical office tower at 71 Broadway at Rector Street.

Impressive enough to warrant is own postcard, it held the distinction of being one of the city’s first steel-framed skyscrapers and was praised for its ornate beauty.

[One critic, however, did complain that it had a “grotesque resemblance to a waffle iron” according to this 1996 report by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.]

For 33 years, it was the only skyscraper with Empire in its name. Then in 1931 came the Empire State Building—82 stories taller and an instant icon.

The humbled Empire Building stuck it out until 1997, when it was converted to apartments.

The lovely nymphs of 704 Broadway

December 20, 2010

While hordes of Christmas shoppers weave through the sidewalks below, these two figures, several floors up at gorgeous and ornate 704-706 Broadway, watch silently.

Guess how much the penthouse in this building went for in 2007.

The futuristic hotel never built in New York

May 25, 2010

Architect Antoni Gaudi designed fantastical, colorful, Art Nouveau-style buildings and churches in his native Spain in the late 19th century. 

There’s nothing like them here in New York. But if Gaudi had his way, there would be—a hotel, topped by a giant star, he intended to build on Church Street.

 

Plans were drawn up in 1908. At 1,250 feet, the proposed Hotel Attraction would have been the tallest building in the city.

It never went up, of course, and the sketches were mostly forgotten for decades after Gaudi’s death in 1926.

Now, a group of Spanish artists are reportedly entering Gaudi’s design in the World Trade Center memorial design competition.

The crazy thing is, ground zero is exactly where Gaudi had intended the Hotel Attraction to go up—102 years ago.

At right, Gaudi’s 1908 sketches for the hotel