Frank Gehry, The IAC Building, (2007), Chelsea, New York

An architectural tour of New York

Andrea Klettner takes a walking tour of the Big Apple's quirkier sites




Whether it has been fashion week or the food and wine festival (7-10 October) that has brought you to New York, there’s always something going on in the city, even when there isn’t. Andrea Klettner takes a walking tour of the Big Apple’s quirkier architecture.


Close to the site of Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s refurbished Lincoln Center (which the fashion pack decamped to during fashion week this year) in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, is the award-winning Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park. Designed by New York practice Cook + Fox Architects, this $1 billion skyscraper was finished in late 2009 and is one of the greenest in the world. It features giant walls of insulating glass that include an automatic daylight dimming system. Rainfall is captured and re-used throughout the structure as part of a greywater system. 

For a chance to see one of the city's tallest buildings under construction, head south to 8 Spruce Street, just by City Hall Plaza where Frank Gehry's 76-storey Beekman Tower is being built. When complete this unique multi-use building will feature a public elementary school, to be owned by the Department of Education, alongside the New York Downtown Hospital and more than 900 apartments.  The building is one of the first major towers to be built near Ground Zero, which sits to the south-west of the site. Daniel Libeskind outlined plans for the area, which spans from Vesey Street in the north to Liberty St in the south, to include five office buildings and a hub designed by Santiago Calatrava, but so far little has emerged on the ground. A visit here is still worth a trip, though it is difficult to get a view beyond the hoardings, the nearby 9/11 Memorial Preview Site has some information on the plans. 

The east side of Manhattan is lagging somewhat behind its western counterpart in terms of flashy new developments, but among the streets of the Lower East Side sits the inspired New Museum of Contemporary Art from this year's winner of the Pritzker Prize, SANAA. The Japanese practice SANAA, led by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, designed this series of staggered boxes around a central steel core at 235 Bowery. It is covered with an aluminium mesh and was completed in 2007.  

By far the nicest green spot in the city is its newest park, The High Line, running from the fashionable Meatpacking District up to West Chelsea. Designed by New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro and landscape architects James Corner Field Operations the former goods railway has been turned from a derelict industrial eyesore into an innovative urban environment that combines public arts spaces, good views and a welcome breath of fresh air. 

Sitting just a block beyond the High Line and facing the Hudson River is Jean Nouvel's second tower in Manhattan at 100 11th Avenue. This 23-storey residential block was finished earlier this year and has 1,700 glass panes of differing size, each set at a unique torque and angle, giving the main facade its distinctive appearance. And right next door is Frank Gehry's IAC building (completed in 2007), his first in the city.  


Andrea Klettner


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