Professor Montgomery

Author: Mike Reyes (Page 2 of 3)

Week 13 – Hudson Yards

Architecture for the general public is known to be about the upbringing of buildings and residences and the way people circulate or move through a certain space. Yet as a person who goes more in depth with technicality and as you study the focus of architecture more in depth you realize that it’s also about the language an urban project or a specific building has with its surroundings. You come to realize the significance that you want the project to evoke on a person and you also want people to understand the statement that you’re trying to express as an architect or as a group of architects.


Hudson Yards is most definitely one of the newest tourist attractions in New York City. Therefore, it is a very picturesque place but with luxury as a forefront. It’s an urban project that interacts with the High Line creating a larger responsibility in circulation and the proper flow people. As most of us know the High Line is a museum of architecture, a pathway that cuts through neighborhoods and buildings allowing a person to have various experiences. Nonetheless, the High Line achieves all of this with historic significance and smoothness for various blocks; not highly altering the design that a neighborhood already had. Meanwhile Hudson Yards is a project that creates its own world such as the Lincoln Center and Rockefeller Center but I would say in a less successful manner. Every building in Hudson Yards just speaks its own design which is not bad as an individual figure but it’s unsuccessful as a unison besides the entities of glass. Circulation fails to lead you to a main attraction or the tallest buildings as it is done in Rockefeller Center.


Therefore, how does Hudson Yards compare to the urban planning of Battery Park city? I would say that Hudson yards is clearly driven by money and luxury. Meanwhile Battery Park city is driven by the true definition but what architecture stands for which is the interaction of society, the interaction within a neighborhood, the blend and coherence of a new neighborhood with the existing one and the concept of utilizing money for the progression of society rather than the waste and exalt of money.

Week 12 -Battery Park City

Nelson Rockefeller the governor of New York City at the time desired to redevelop Battery Park city as a comprehensive community, he wanted it to include housing, social infrastructure and light industry. At the time there was a person named Jane Jacobs that evaluated architecture from a social perspective therefore she brought back certain principles that were being lost even when the Lincoln center was constructed these principles consist of public ground with streets blocks that should define edges nicely and buildings should look at the public. Battery Park city turned out to be what is known as new urbanism. Prior to this master plan which demonstrated how it connected the new with the rest of lower Manhattan there was a late 60s plan, which was very idiosyncratic. Architect Alex Cooper criticized the old plan just as Jane Jacobs did. The ideology of a successful street is when strangers’ behavior all functioning together to fulfill goals yet coexisting without knowing each other. The principles for Battery Park city were 1) Battery Park should not be self-contained. 2) It should be delivered as an extension of lower Manhattan in grid and blocks. 3) It should embrace the waterfront entity. 4) Should not be idiosyncratic. 5) Circulation should emphasize ground level. 6) Reproduce and improve what’s great about New York City neighborhoods. 7) Commercial center should be the focal point of the activity around the neighborhood.  8) Land use should be flexible for future improvisation.


As Jane Jacobs explains her principles and observations as the performance of a successful neighborhood it leads me to the reasoning as why NYC is one of those cities that doesn’t embrace the car culture rather the social culture. NYC streets were made for people to be their own way of transportation like this people were able to gather and create a healthy social neighborhood.


Battery Park City is very much the complete opposite to what Lincoln Center stood for. Meanwhile Lincoln Center was made for the upscale, it was a plot of land that isolated itself from the rest of the city and despite it’s beautiful aesthetic in architecture they were buildings that were created for the awe or the reaction of people rather than the functionality and organization of society.

Week 10: Mid-town Modernism

As people living in the city sometimes we forget to observe our surroundings due to the rapid pace environment NYC demands. We often overlook things and as a result we don’t appreciate them. For instance, architecture in the city; sometimes we may recognize an edifice is beautiful but we won’t try to understand why or why not it’s aesthetically pleasing.

The exterior skin of a building is the first that you observe while you walk pass it or while you drive pass it. The skin is what intrigues the average person on whether they like the look of the structure or not. Many buildings in Midtown have this modernist international style look. Such as the Lever House, Seagram Building and United Nations. They skin for these buildings seem very lightweight compared to the concrete previous building had. All of the buildings I mentioned previously are rectilinear in their massing and often have a play with light since their facades are most commonly made of glass and steel. Although these buildings reach great heights they have this weightless feel to them. While personally standing in front of the Lever House you can observe the reach for superiority, while buildings like the Empire State may seem like structures and breaking out of the ground with their historic significance. The Lever House feels like a building that expresses the demand of stature. Another major observation is the lack or excessive ornamentation. I feel like the facade of these international style buildings becomes the ornament. For example on the Lever House the play of curtains each cell has gives the building a unique and different style every time you may visit it since there are people who will open the curtains while others may close them.

Week 05: 19th Century Neighborhoods

When we talk about Historical sites/neighborhoods and preservation of areas. Washington Square Park is the epitome of 19th century architecture in NYC.  This is an area that is familiarized with revival and excellence nowadays.

First let me briefly mention that Washington Square Park was a burial site prior to becoming what it is today, a public space with greenery that allows the community to gather and enjoy the outdoors while still being in the city. The park is also in homage to Europe since the arc may be known to resemble the Arc de Triomphe, which is an emblem of triumph and prosperity.


As you walk around the SOHO neighborhood you encounter buildings with similar beauty to the ones in Brooklyn Heights only taller. One of the major architectural distinctions used during this period was the effect of rustification on the lower parts of the facade of a housing unit and the revival of the Italian style.  As you keep observing you can see some irregularity on the streets where two streets meet and create a triangle that often becomes this miniature space for greenery and appreciation. A notable feature is the fact that NYU campus sits throughout this whole neighborhood embracing the value of its name with the value of its streets. It’s zone that embraces excellence whether it’s past or present. The churches here have a great example of what Gothic architecture is. The art of creating awe and mystery within the celestial space in order to satisfy the idea of Christ’s grandeur. Therefore, walking through these streets encompass the greatness of a city in the past decades that still thrives today and noted as one of the most expensive neighborhoods in all the city.

Week 03: An Immigrant City

New York City became a sprawling city in the 19th century. As more people came into the city for economical satisfaction this resulted in more demand for housing.  As a result the great idea landlords decided to embrace was to immediately go against the law. Housing that was mainly for a single family was not meant for two or three families. The overcrowding became an immense issue besides that people no longer had the peace of mind everyone deserves. Landlords were satisfied as long as the money got into their pockets so they morally didn’t care about the sanitation and plumbing issues people were facing. The amount of waste that was amounted on the streets and the fact that for every 20 people living in an apartment they all shared a water hole which was known as the toilet; is detrimental due to the fact that this led to spread and growth of diseases.

One of the major architectural elements that the apartment buildings had to change was the poor quality of sunlight. Landlords and the government was okay with having sunlight being passed by interior window frames only having access to windows from the front and back of the structure. The reason why the buildings provided poor sunlight and air quality was because lots were all built extremely small distances form one another.

At least from my perspective New York City is still a city that carries on the overcrowding factor. This is especially true in lower income neighborhoods families bundle up together in order to pay for rent since NYC rent is reaching for the skies. So while people are here because there is a wider opportunity of employment there is still a need of mutual dependence i being able to pay for housing.

Week 11: Civic Centers

In order to further understand the function of a civic center let me define what a civic center is  — a civic center is prominently a land area meant to be a focal point with significant buildings surrounding it.  Thus the Lincoln Center is a perfect example of urban renewal. Robert Moses in the 1950’s was in the surge of going against preservationists architecturally. He created many public parks and promoted new infrastructure. Nonetheless, the Lincoln Center is now the world’s leading performing arts center. it unites 11 designated art buildings together altering the scale of New York city back in the 60’s and still maintaining that prestigious value in its name and area. While back then the Lincoln Center may have looked forced onto where it stands today because  this project displaced more than 7000 low-income. Furthermore, the assistance promised to the people whom resided there never happened. However, in the present day Lincoln Center quite fits well in the neighborhood it sits at since Central Park is not too far away from it and the iconic Broadway st leads to the view of the center.

The Lincoln center has a definite influence from the public spaces that existed in Europe. A definite influence is “Piazza del Campidoglio” located in Rome, Italy. Similarly, to the Campidoglio the Lincoln Center is a point where people are meant to gather whether it’s from the city or students from the halls and schools situated on it. The organization of the center follows Il Campidoglio  from the two buildings on the side to the geometries on the floor. It’s definitively one of those places where you walk with the respect towards prestige and the knowing of differences in society. It’s a center constructed for the best and built by some of the best architects. It’s a space that invites you to take it in yet it’s also a place to reflect on its upbringing and dedication.

Week 09: Empire State Building/ Chrysler Building

New York City  in the 1930’s was experiencing a race among three buildings to claim the title of the “tallest building in the world.” The buildings competing for the title were the Chrysler Building, 40 Wall St and the Empire State Building.  Throughout this period in time,  the United States was establishing the car culture and enforcing the importance the car being a new machine or invention will have for the future years.  Since the car culture was shaping the public and the way society moved. Two car companies that felt the need to demonstrate their dominance in society and place a landmark structure were Chrysler and General Motors. Chrysler obviously backed the Chrysler Building meanwhile the Empire State Building was backed by General Motors in a more subtle manner.

Art Deco was the design designated for both structures but you can still note the difference in interpretation. The Chrysler Building is far more ornamented from its exterior as you can quickly realize by its metal rooftop. It also has the wings statues on its corners directly representing the company behind its influence. Another difference you realize is the play with the windows. For a major part of structure the windows are vertical and then become horizontal and even diagonal further atop. The Chrysler is also stacked as one on top of another mass but as it continues to elevate the massing gets thinner.

Nonetheless, the Empire State Building is far simpler with minimal detailing throughout the columns or on top of some windows but the major impact of this edifice is the play of massing and the organization in the construction of the structure. The Empire was constructed in thirteen months and it was something to boast about since before this and until this day there hasn’t been a major project being able to beat this time frame. Another important factor in the exterior of the Empire is its verticality and overlapping play of the structure making it asymmetrical. The Empire is big on mass since it starts on a whole lot and as it also rises as it gets thinner but the proportions used for the Empire are far more complementing to its bulk.


Week 08: Grand Central Terminal/ Penn Station

American infrastructure in the early 20th century definitely took a form of its own. The United States obviously learned the engineering techniques and architectural characteristics from England and France, though Americans created their own splendid gems making it their own and owning their interpretation of culture and becoming an obsolete country with their own advancements such as Grand Central Terminal which was open for the public in 1913.

Grand Central Terminal demonstrates the empowerment and the ambition that NYC had at the time. Besides Grand Central Terminal’s lofty arches and the marble used to enrich its beauty it was the practical design and innovative engineering that amused the public and designers at this moment in time.  One can definitely observe the Terminal’s topography from the exterior realizing how smoothly and properly the Terminal’s interior is also playing with the site topography. It’s a play with the ground level.  As you keep walking  to the main room there are magical spaces that leave you in awe almost looking to the heavens due to the grandeur of the structure. Grand Central Terminal is made to be royal and subliminally give the message of a goal met since it was considered and still considered one of the greatest structures in the world and certainly in NYC.

In comparison you have Penn Station which by it names allow you to know it serves as a station meaning trains meet and keep going through to follow their path. We also have to realize that although Penn station is such an important hub it was created for its functionality of circulation. The functionality of serving people to move from one train to another whether its Amtrak, Subway, or Path. It’s also a genius marvel with its engineering. It just comes short to Grand Central with the feeling it provides the public and with the lack of decor and aesthetic beauty.

Week 07: Lower Manhattan: The Emerging Metropolis

In the late 19th century a new era in engineering and architecture commenced. The Otis Safety Brake emerged and this is an invention that kept the elevator from falling if the hoisting rope broke. “A model of engineering simplicity, the safety device consisted of a used wagon spring that was attached to both the top of the hoist platform and the overhead lifting cable,” wrote Joseph J. Fucini and Suzy Fucini in Entrepreneurs: The Men and Women Behind Famous Brand Names and How They Made It. Because of this invention greater projects began and taller structures came to be placed. 

As taller projects began this signified the emergence of lower Manhattan. Buildings such as the Woolworth Building began to define the streets of lower Manhattan. Since lower Manhattan just boomed it a place where you can see major landmarks such as Federal Hall, U.S Customs House and Stock Exchange. This became the epicenter for the progression of finances nationally and globally. As someone who’s walked the streets of the financial district, I’ve come to the realization that streets may seem to look thinner than they actually are due to the fact that the tall buildings create the feeling of really making the person feel small and creating a streets-cape where streets feel squished yet compact in order to function. All of these high rises also cover the sun from the streets creating a cooler environment and also enhancing humidity during the hot months. Another interesting observation is that the streets are parallel to the the Brooklyn Bridge creating a face front to the Brooklyn borough.

Week 06: Frick Collection & Guggenheim Comparison

For an architect or interior designer circulation is always one of the main keys in the upbringing of a structure. This is a designer’s need to give people the access to be able to get where they want and also to provide a space function. Circulation is a concept of providing a unique experience just as it can also be irregular and provide chaos.

As I entered the Frick Collection I immediately noticed the play of light, it was dim. I wondered why for a moment but then came up with the explanation that it’s the need to provide intimacy with the art provided. As one goes from the room to another you get the sense of which rooms were more important than others in the mansion. A major mission for this museum seems to be the community and the education that the Frick family provided with their works of art. All rooms have some sculpture or portrait to offer the visitor but once the visitor enters the museum there isn’t a specific sequence. Their isn’t an accumulative understanding from one room to another it’s just a venture with your own logic of flow.

However, there are also designed museums which are created for the embodiment of artwork like the Guggenheim Museum. As you enter the museum you notice this white aura that evokes grandeur and makes things seem bigger than they really are. The play of white also creates this nice background for the portraits allowing the visitor to only focus on the painting. Now, when Frank Lloyd designed the Guggenheim he wanted to create an experience with the circulation. He wanted people to start from top to bottom and allow gravity to bring people back to the origin point. An exciting feature of this museum is the swirling ramp that shows the visitor what it wants them to see. It has sequence and organization. It’s a place that defines the venture for the person rather the person finding their own way through the structure.


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