Sunday, November 16, 2014


I'd never noticed this building until a couple of mornings ago, a tower of glass triangles planted in the hollowed-out ruin of a high-Deco sandstone block, or maybe a very fancy moderne water bottle stuffed into a too-tight picnic basket, at the corner of 8th Avenue and 57th Street.

It's the international headquarters of the Hearst Corporation. The stone part is the façade of the original Hearst headquarters completed in 1928, the base of a skyscraper that was never built because of the Depression, preserved in the new design because it's a designated landmark building, and the tower is by Norman Foster, completed in 2006.

My instant hatred for it may suggest that deep inside I'm some kind of reactionary old fart like the Prince of Wales (a cute old fart, of course, and he objects to modernism while I am loyal to it and queasy about the postmodern idea that ate it), and I'm probably wrong. It was the best 2006 skyscraper in the world according to the Emporis company, which gives out an annual award, which doesn't really signify to me, and more importantly it was the first skyscraper in New York to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certificate from the United States Green Building Council, which signifies a lot.

But I think my picture gives a feeling of why I hated it, because it looks like the product of a parasite alien civilization imposed on a war-wrecked shell.

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