Professor Montgomery

Author: Ritchie M.

Short Writing Assignment: Final Reflection

Describe the impact of studying New York City Architecture outside of the classroom.

Should more students get this opportunity?

I believe that studying the architecture in New York City was impactful in that it allowed us to experience the city structures with our own eyes instead of looking at a photograph of it inside the classroom. For me, it widened my experience  of observation when it seeing specific buildings up close, studying them, understanding their purpose, and interacting with them. A person can learn a lot from a building just by standing inside it, near it, or by looking at it from a far; you have a sense of perception and are able to interpret the structure for yourself. During this class, I felt like I could immerse myself into the spaces we visited. Despite the many inconveniences of convening to a selected building and all the possible circumstances that could happen due to delays and weather, this class was considerably enjoyable; an experience like no other.

I definitely think that students who want to see those city structures for themselves should have a class dedicated to doing just that. As mentioned before, a person can learn from a building just by interacting with it; they can notice the details, the materials, the craftsmanship: the attributes that make the building what it is. They can even sketch the buildings themselves and draw the details that pop out to them. I highly recommend the skill set of using a GPS on your phone and having a friend in the class who can help guide you should you get lost. Students who are interested in architecture should learn about architecture through this unique opportunity.


Short Writing Assignment Weeks 11, 13, and 14

Short Writing Assignment Week 11: Lincoln Center relation to surrounding city

This short writing assignment will pertain to the public plaza of Lincoln Center and its relation to the city surrounding it. The Lincoln Center is of the Post Modernism movement; a style that takes classical architectural features from the ancient Greeks and Romans and changes it into a new style. These features may include piers, vaults, and stone masonry. The Lincoln Center became an urban space within a public space. This center changed how the citizens interacted with the public space. Because of the influence of the Lincoln Center on the citizens, buildings were built together, not scattered in multiple parts of the city. This was all a result of urban planning and renewal in the 1930s; where the federal government funded towards improving the urban planning of the city.

Short Writing Assignment Week 13: Michael Kimmelman critique of Hudson Yards and Battery Park City’s layout

This short writing assignment will pertain to the Hudson Yards critique by Michael Kimmelman and the layout of Battery Park City. In Michael Kimmelman’s critique on Hudson Yards, published on March 14th 2019, states the grandeur of Hudson Yards’ appearance, how expensive it’s construction was, and how this “office park” will affect the economy. The Hudson Yards can be see from the highline, near the Whitney Museum of American Art. It has 14 acres of public space, and is made up of multiple buildings: 10 Hudson Yards Tower, 15 Hudson Yards Tower, 30 Hudson Yards Tower, 35 Hudson Yards Tower, 50 Hudson Yards Tower, 55 Hudson Yards Tower, a shopping mall, The Shed, and the Vessel. The construction of the western side of the yards is yet to be completed. Kimmelman states that Hudson Yards lacks harmonization of its parts: the buildings together do not have a relation in size and in scale. Battery Park City is located along side the Hudson river. It is a neighborhood filled with apartments, restaurants, a memorial, and parks. It is lively with many activities and even has a harbor. I found its layout to be really interesting in that it had a unique movement of scenes with its diverse areas with each of their own purposes. I enjoyed the change in scenery as I went from the neighborhood, to the park, and then to the harbor.

Short Writing Assignment Week 14: MoMA garden and surrounding city structures

This short writing assignment will pertain to the MoMA garden and the city structures surrounding the garden. The Museum of Modern Art (or MoMA) has a garden will a glass curtain wall facade. This garden is spacious and has bodies of water as well. Looking around the garden, one can see various types of buildings with Post Modernism and Late Post Modernism styles, one of them being the AT&T Building designed by Philip Johnson. The AT&T Building was a Post Modernism style building with vertical and horizontal emphasis. I thought the garden was stunning in its appearance and was a space where one can see buildings of different times come together to make a timeline of building styles.

Short Writing Assignments Weeks 3-10

Week 3: Dutch Colony Brooklyn

From the 1890s to the 1980s, the Brooklyn area was used as a residential get-away from the loud and busy city life of New York City. There were free-standing garden houses in Brooklyn; anyone with enough money would buy lots to build houses and then sell them to future tenants. The surveyor would number the lots, divide the land, and sell them at auction houses. The houses were primarily made of wood, which was hazardous when it came to fires. Brooklyn started as wealthy, became middle class, and then became problematic with crime. On 155-159 Willow Street, there were houses with brick and Flemish bonds; 8 inch deep and were overlapped. For décor, the windows had steel beams to hold them up, they had doors with columns and glass windows and a lintel on the top to keep it from collapsing. Bank buildings were built with stone and looked wealthy to give off a “fortress” impression. From there featured Romanesque, Greek Revival, and Federal Style houses. Romanesque had rustic stone and arches, Greek Revival had simplicity, and Federal was decorative and fancy.

Week 4: Central Park

From the 80’s, Central Park featured a lot of plant life, man-made bodies of water, and bird migration. There were no straight roads there until the maul was paved. People would come to Central Park for the dramatic view of the urban buildings and the escape into the nature-like scenery. The pastural view, sheep meadow-like lands, and igneous rocks were all a part of the landscape and topographic design. These landscapes were used for entertainment, relaxing, and were for viewing purposes primarily. The trees in Central Park are used as markers on a grid and the ponds were used as introductions to the park. Central Park also features a bandshell- a half dome stage used for musical purposes. There is a grand walkway that lands to a large body of water after walking down the stairs and passing the fountain, which gives off an episodic impression.  Central Park faced maintenance when it came to water pollution and sanitation problems, which resulted in reservoirs and aqueducts being built. The architecture there is mainly gothic and Romanesque and gave off a romantic feeling by incorporating the wonder of nature into an area of a city.

Week 5: Washington Square

In 1811, many lots of land were bought by landlords and sold to tenants for building houses. The houses have rising stairs to the house floor, used stucco, iron work for railings and fences, and had Greek Revival (featuring ionic columns) and Roman Revival facades. The neighborhood area had an irregular city planning grid; resulting in the builders facing challenges to make the buildings stylish and functional. They placed small buildings with large scale apartment buildings with brick deco-style motifs. The city planners during this time rejected London’s city planning grid, but Boston did not. The houses had Flemish bonds to Running Bonds, elegant floral iron work designs, Italian arches with small piers, pilasters, and decorative cornices. There was also the First Presbyterian Church, which had a gothic style, made of brown stone, had buttresses to balance the weight of the roof, and courtyards. In the New York grid, there were wide streets, small lots, and the broadways were used for areas of entertainment and commercial activities. There would be department stores, large buildings, and spaces used for artistic structures and manufacturing opportunities. Tall buildings also meant the incorporation of elevators and the use of cast iron. The spaces felt unique and eye-catching in SoHo.

Week 6: Frick Museum/Guggenheim Museum

The Frick Museum was established in the early 1900s and was founded by Henry Frick. This museum was originally a living space that was made in the idea of being a museum afterwards by the Frick family. There were a lot of portraits, ceramics, and decorative furniture. It is amazing to think that the museum was previously a building where the Frick family lived and reclined. This building featured a lot of Greek Revival style designs, large spaces, and had floral motifs. There were ionic columns with friezes above them. Many of the rooms had different atmospheres, expressing feelings of tranquility, solemnness, radiance, and gloom. The Frick Museum was very intriguing. The Guggenheim Museum was spacious and its design was dynamic. The structure is almost intimidating when looking at it, but also inspires wonder. The Guggenheim Museum featured multiple pieces of art, but its structural shape made the building captivating for many visitors.

Week 7: Lower Manhattan

Lower Manhattan was an early settlement area for the Dutch. The court buildings were dramatic, had movement, and had engaging positions. Government buildings became powerful institutions due to being the central point for money. The classical Greek motifs on the buildings were made to be seen from afar. There were large spaces and civic enjoyment for the public done in the 1900s movement. American buildings combined classical Greek art themes to make their own style. There were monumental architectural buildings being amplified by these artistic themes. At 45 Broad street, the street is curved and the large structures overlap each other in a person’s view. These buildings featured Doric columns, friezes, cornices, and elevators for tall buildings. The building styles developed from gothic, to classical, and to modern. Large buildings took advantage of zoning such as the Equitable building and the Woolworth building. The Equitable building had a plaza as a pleasant public space and was a tower and plaza combination. The Woolworth building was narrow as it rose, decorative motifs on terracotta, and had a cathedral style. The Brooklyn bridge was a phenomenal structure and notable landmark that gave off a sense of “ancient fame” and grandeur when looking at it. Lower Manhattan is filled with many landmarks and interesting structures.

Week 8: Grand Central/Penn Station

Grand Central is along Vanderbilt street and features a sequence of spaces and pathways to get people to their destinations. It has Greek and Roman-like elements in its architecture, embellishments, a zodiac ceiling, shops, restaurants, a terminus, and depot. It is a railroad terminus with trains traveling in multiple directions. The structure is inspired by basilica and the Roman bath houses. Its composition consists of classical architecture and the Rococo style. Penn Station is a railroad station that has access to the New Jersey and Long Island transit, many restaurants, and is under Madison Square Garden. Penn Station seemed almost unsettling with its low ceilings and not so spacious lobby. These two institutions reflect New York City’s civil architectural culture and history by the  opportunities and the access that it gives to the people moving through it and interacting with it. How these institutions were built and are continued to be implemented into the society’s activities and transportation makes a large impact to the city’s way of life.

Week 9: Chrysler/Empire State Buildings

The Chrysler building is a monumental tower with an art-deco style. It has a steel structure with brick masonry, gothic details, and ornamentation. The exterior of the skyscraper is eye-catching and is a part of the Manhattan skyline. The Empire State building is also a gigantic skyscraper with an art-deco style. It is built with a steel structure with brownstone masonry, and it considered a masterpiece. It is taller than the Chrysler building; the Chrysler building stands 1046 feet tall while the Empire State building stands 1454 feet tall. These two buildings are both a part of the Manhattan skyline, both use art-deco style, both have steel framework structures, and are both notable skyscrapers in New York City. However, I prefer the Chrysler buildings due to its appealing ornamentation.

Week 10: Modernism Buildings

Mid-century modern architecture focused on defining the meaning of a tower. The buildings in America were made by looking and referring to the buildings that surrounded them. There were corporate buildings for companies. Motorcars were becoming mainstream and highways were being built. The buildings needed to express the ideas of the architect purposefully and relate the ones around them. One of them being the Lever House. It was a building that had a one way concrete slab system, tall vertical rectangular shape with two bands of spandrel glass and steel, a glass enclosure, and courtyards with black granite and white marble. The Lever house’s major feature was the cantilever structure off the columns and the tower above the cantilever base (the relief). However, the Lever house is off-centered; one of the three columns is more closer than the other. A organized grid plan is essential for the buildings because without the proper symmetry, the buildings will look strange. The Lipstick building features granite and stainless steel beams. It stands out due to its curvature and red stone façade. Piers and Doric Greek columns hold up the floors of the cylinder-like building and there are hardly any corners in the building. The exterior of these modern buildings progressed in their style and decoration by adding unique structural elements to enhance the appearance of these buildings.

Writing Assignment: New York City Housing

The housing environment in New York City during the 19th century was plagued with many problems. The living spaces were cramped, and the urban land was small. When there were too many people, it caused sanitation problems, social conflicts, and load issues. When floods came, it trapped the unsanitary community in their waste. And while the lot sizes were small, wealthy citizens would buy land to sell homes to new residents.

The living environment in New York City had green open spaces with building houses called projects. The size of these building houses were 25 by 100 feet. They were designed for family homes with large windows and a garden. These places were standard for foreigners who came to the city for a new life. As time progressed, there was an increase in the resident population in New York City.

At the end of the revolutionary war at 1790, the numbers were around 33,131 people. In 1890, however, the population increased to 1,515,301 people. As a result, many people were being placed into buildings that were not designed to house the growing population. The rooms in the living spaces lacked sun exposure and ventilation, causing illness. An example of this was the Lung Block; the tuberculosis crisis that occurred around Hamilton street.

In honesty, landlords chose building plans with cramped living spaces to house more people rather than giving them proper living conditions because they wanted to gain more money from their tenants. However, many regulations were passed to ensure the safety of the New York City residents. The 1867 act enforced having sleeping rooms with direct ventilation, fire escapes, ventilation for the main hall, 1 water closet per 20 people, garbage receptacles, 8 feet high windows, and spacing. These acts continued to change up to the 1901 act, which enforced more specific notions of sanitation and safety.

Overall, the housing in New York City had buildings that didn’t suit the large population that were inhabiting the neighborhood. There were changes in the lot sizes and the importance of light and ventilation became urgent. New York City living spaces needed proper regulations to ensure that people could live in safety and in a healthier environment.