Professor Montgomery

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 8)

HW# 5

  During our week 5 trip of our class, we started at Washington Square park, Walked to Fifth Avenue , Greenwich Village , I.M Pei Towers , Louis Sullivan’s and walked to Soho. During our walk around these neighborhoods, it’s noticeable how different styles of Architecture affected building making  and how it influenced the styles and fine details of buildings types in the 19th Century. 

In the 1800’s, Plazas and Squares were created because of street intersections. Different Streets would meet each other but there was empty space left .Those empty space would become public plaza or a square that would either have sitting areas, chess table or it would honor someone who was meaningful to new york history by name or a statue. Strolling the streets you could also see the difference between the 1811 manhattan grid and some of the existing streets that weren’t renewed. The existing streets are more narrow were the grid streets are a little more spacious.  Washington Square Park is one of the most popular places in New York City. But, before it became so popular was a potter’s field for the poor and cemeteries for the church of Scotch Presbyterian. Then it became a drill field for the military The arch was built to honor Goerge Washington’s 100gth Year inauguration. The marble arch stands tall and grand in the park, the characteristics of roman architecture detailed perfectly throughout the arch. Making it as captivating as ever. 

Moving around the streets of greenwich village ,you notice brown street signs that indicate that you are in a historic district. A lot of the brownstones and there entrances were Europe inspired.Greek Revival style townhouses with classic tall doric , ionic or Corinthian columns. and set back doors with beautiful Italian steel craving for the gates and double sash windows with beautiful detailing. Italianate Style with low pitch flat roofs , overhanging Eaves and Tall Windows. Turning on certain streets, you can get lost in how similar it looks to europe style houses. For a second you could forget you’re in New York. 

Couple blocks down, passing NYU buildings and IM Pei towers that has a resemblance of le corbusier Unité d’Habitation de Marseille because of how the windows are shaped. We stop in front of Louis Sullivan’s Bayard- Condict building, made of terracotta. Terra Cotta is one of the easiest materials to work with when doing detailed facades. Modeled off site, it’s so easy to manipulate, carve and use to your liking. Sculptural facade with great fine details makes the building so special and unique.

In the late1900’s , Cast Iron was the metal of choice. Throughout the blocks soho , the Industrialized buildings favorited by artists made Soho the cast iron district. When I picture Soho I think of Windows, that create beautiful Interior light for the many lofts that are there. There’s a consistency created by Cast iron buildings in Soho. Walking the blocks, you see a pattern and you know what to expect.

Walking Greenwich village to Soho created a timeline for me. How architecture changed, what influenced designs and detailing of facades. The different styles, and use of materials from Concrete Columns to Brick to Terra Cotta to Cast Iron. 

Citicorp Center Research Paper

Mike Reyes

Prof. Montgomery

ARCH 3522




Citicorp Research


            Everything that leads to the upbringing of a building allows for unique design and inspiration. Don’t you think? NYC is a prime example of the different definitions of architectural design due to the time periods, due to the architects behind each project, due to the plot of land they had in order to build and also due to the actions of an architect and their reasoning, whether they are in it for the money or the originality the field has to offer upon society.

The Citicorp Building also known as 601 Lexington Ave is no different. It’s a structure that stands out in a city where most structures have a solid foundation. Citicorp is one of the buildings that you may like due to its authenticity or hate it due to its peculiar design. The architect for the Citicorp is Hugh Stubbins while the structural engineer is William LeMessurier (it is noted that most of the credit is given to LeMessurier). The building was built in 1977, being the seventh tallest building in the world at that specific time frame. The purpose of the structure was to be the Headquarters of Citibank although now it is currently owned by Boston Properties which is an organization that invests in office buildings. Nonetheless, Citicorp was far from perfect after all this is the skyscraper that had a design flaw which almost wiped it out.


Prior to the Citicorp Center the land was occupied St. Peters Evangelical Church. This is the reasoning why Citicorp has four large columns as its foundation. The St. Peters Church did a negotiation with Citibank for the upbringing of the structure under “the condition that it wouldn’t affect the existing structure. This meant that the entire building would need to hover above the church, nine stories above street level.” (Langdon 2018). Interestingly enough, “during the initial design, LeMessurier had wanted the steel structure on the outside of the building, thus making it an architectural feature, but the architect, Hugh Stubbins, had overruled him.” (David 2018) Despite its innovation I would still classify the design element as International style. I say this primarily due to the use of modern industrial materials which were steel, concrete and glass. Secondly since its exterior speaks honestly with its interior, meaning we can see the clarity of construction and classification of floors. After all the International Style “was renown as a symbol of social and industrial progress.” [1]

As a person strolling through the city you can quickly realize the different elements and challenges this building was faced with. However, as a person going more in depth with the study of the Citicorp Center. One can realize that this building broke that rectilinear form structures were often limited to. It allowed people to get a new sense of what could be done with the new industrial materials offered at the time. Also, it was a new era or a new model of inspiration. The forty-five-degree roof is striking and unique in NYC skyscrapers. It’s an excellent way of an architect giving a building the notion of language allowing it to speak with its attention to detail. In this case the peculiarity of its base and roof. Essentially, “Brands must become architects of community.” (Simon Mainwaring)



Here, we can see the magnitude of the erratic nature of the building. By observing the drawing, you question the stability, you question the foundation, and you question just how is it that such mass or weight is able to be supported by some columns especially due to the scale of the building.

However, we can see that the structural engineer LeMessurier decided to form long diagonals on the building’s facades in a V shape pattern. He did this to transfer the floor loads to the center of each face where the mega columns below are located. Interestingly the “trusses collect about half of the gravity loads and resist the entire wind loads on the building at the base of the tower.





This image gives the focus to the structure’s foundation. These columns or also known as pylons are not exactly located the edge of its rectilinear bottom form. Captivatingly they are located at the center of each edge. This is due to accommodate the design requirement. “LeMessurier conceived a structural design with columns located mid face, with six, eight-story-high V shaped bracing systems (in the form of inverted chevrons) to accommodate wind loads and to support the 22m cantilevered overhangs at the building’s corners – one of which would overhang St Peter’s Church.” (David 2018)



Embracing its angular roof Citicorp Center had different purposes for its design but in the end the engineer needed to keep looking for a back up plan as certain incorporations couldn’t happen. The original plans were intended to cover this low angled placed several penthouses retranqueados. The idea could not be carried out by restrictions in the regulations of the area.” [3] Another concept that was fed to the public was the sloping deck with solar panels. This idea was denied because it didn’t meet the requirements of solar orientation which would have most likely given Citicorp a completely different look from above. Nonetheless eventually the structural engineer decided to place a cradle of mass. It is a 400-ton device that keeps the building stable from the swaying winds that occur from the high altitude of the structure.

This is one of those buildings that required architects to do their research and study for successful execution since no other structure really compared to it at the time. An example is it’s massing. The massing is authentic since it doesn’t begin from the ground level. The bulk of Citicorp begins roughly at about 100 feet all the way till its sloping roof. The building gives the illusion as if it were to be floating. At a first glance it seems unreasonable as to how such a mass can be supported by four rectilinear columns but nonetheless it’s a standing structure that provides the element of surprise whether it’s perceived as good architecture or bad. Despite the buildings bulk It is a definite example of what a massive structure supposed to look like. Carrying out the concept with its lightweight looking façade. The composition of the building is clearly laid out providing the viewer the opportunity of differentiating floor to floor. There is also an ongoing interaction between the interior and the exterior by the horizontal glass walls and the compliance it has with the white aluminum material. The materials used give the façade a very polished look and a tone to stand out from the concrete walls that stand tall throughout the city. An elevation view from each side of the composition is minimally different. Meanwhile one side demonstrates the setback on the roof. The side views provide you with the fluidity of the structure, allowing you to see the combination of the massive entity with the Roof. Meanwhile, the back view would give the viewer a complete rectilinear façade. Overall, I feel that Citicorp is one of the buildings that began to provide the blend of being able to see from the exterior to the interior and even get a sense of the background from within its interior walls and lighting.

“The project has a sunken plaza, which contains an entrance to the ground level of the project’s large atrium and also to a subway.” (Midtown Book) The Sunken plaza gives the project the illusion of depth from height to floor and an authentic landscape overlay for a social performance space via the Sunken Plaza since it serves as the main entrance onto the building. Another notable feature which has significant importance is the central elevator bank core. This feature is only visible through the inside where you can also get an understanding of the V shape chevrons that connect to the central elevator bank core. The connection is necessary for the stability of the building. Like this all the tension forwards to the center of the whole which is the adequate physics property applied because of the winds that could possibly sway the winds from any possible side of the structure. Moving forward to the atrium, “The atrium not only has three entrances directly to the street, but most of its stores on the lowest level, which was the first basement level at Lexington Avenue, also had clerestory windows to permit passersby on the street to look down into the stores and also did not present deadened blank walls to the streetscape, a very nice urbanistic touch.” (Midtown Book) As years went by the retail spaces upgraded and Barnes & Nobles came in becoming, “a neighborhood attraction.” Although in 2016 Barnes & Noble “shuttered its store at the base of Citigroup Center in east midtown at the end of the month to make way for a major renovation at the property.” (Anuta 2016)


Citicorp Center is famous for being an example of a design flaw that could’ve wiped out the building for good. It really was one of those cases that could’ve been the worst architectural disaster in history.

It all started with a student named Diane Hartley, who realized by making her own calculations that the building could not withstand high speed winds. She managed to get in contact with LeMessurier, and while LeMessurier defended his project against the student via phone. After hanging up he quickly revised his own calculations since he had a little bit of doubt instilled. Therefore, this is the moment he then realized that the building was fragile against high speed winds.

Now considering the fact that the edifice had nearly a 400 ton mass damper,  this damper was ineffective due to the fact that it would lose its power if a storm surged in the city meaning it would lose its purpose to stabilize and provide the building with equilibrium throughout the swaying winds. The 400-ton mass damper was needed because of the peculiar form of engineering and architecture needed to provide stability to a skyscraper of this magnitude. Because of this there were many meetings held by lawyers, insurers and Citicorp members in order to find a way to re-strengthen the structure.  “At a meeting in the Citicorp tower, LeMessurier proposed a solution to strengthen 200 of the bolted joints. The solution consisted of welding 50mm thick plates across each bolted joint – essentially providing a permanent ‘band aid’ solution in the truest sense.” (David 2018) Obviously, after finding the problem and a resolution. The legal battle between Citicorp and the architect Hugh Stubbins & the engineer William LeMessurier began. This is something that LeMessurier should have seen coming as soon as the whole emergency procedure was enforced on the building since Hurricane Ella was said to be heading to New York City at the time on summer 1978.


Despite its hazardous moment in time the innovation of the building cannot be neglected. The concept of the Citicorp was just very groundbreaking at the time. The technicality in this building can be seen far more than in others. You can see the math that was made for the realization of angles and positioning that came into play in the composition of this building. Yet the biggest innovation and improvisation is the assurance of defying nature in a safe manner where the design of a building can be intricate and delicate yet still serve its purpose.

The reason I emphasize on the different nature Citicorp has is because throughout the 1960s; buildings were meant to fit the modernist criteria. Modern architecture is when form follows function, and the embracement of minimalism to the point where there was little to no ornamentation on the exterior of the building. Therefore, in the decade when Citicorp rose from the ground which where the 1970s. The 70’s in the architecture world were known for projects and concepts reacting to the restrictions imposed by modern architecture. Lutyens and Hislop describe it well by stating, “Style and the individualistic ethos of fashion design became the guiding principles.” and the 70s “represented a reaction against sleek mid-century modernism in favor of “playful embellishment and radical experimentation with form.” (Hislop & Lutyens 2009). As a result, Citicorp Center takes the spotlight with its Sunken Plaza, its 4 large foundation columns, its structural technique with the Chevron system, the Central elevator bank core, its 45-degree angled roof and with its 400-ton mass damper. All of these are reasons for architects at the time to celebrate the standing of this structure. It was a structure that broke the rectilinear mentality and still till this day it is one of those buildings that is easily noticeable on NYC skyline because of its attributes and posture.


This Midtown skyscraper gave influence on the Lipstick Building. Not in terms of shapes but of being able to break out from that box. William LeMessurier gave other architects the confidence they needed to be able to stand out. It gave them the hunger to be noticed and it also gave the impression that, “It’s okay to break the rules as long as all safety regulations are followed since no other designer or engineer would have wanted to have big major design flaw.” Moreover, I believe the attitude, the responsibility and the pressure for being structurally perfect is a ethic that was passed on from the Citigroup incident. For models the worst thing would be to fall during a runway show because of heels. Meanwhile for architects would be to have their constructed project collapse.


In conclusion despite the sequence of events that William LeMessurier faced with his project he owned his mistakes and took full responsibility for his actions. This demonstrates character and maturity. These are traits that should be instilled in everyone from students to parents, from teachers to designers, even to the people in high ranks of position in society. Also being someone who was in the profession for quite some time you can still be called out by students aspiring to be like you. Finally, just as Citicorp stands with its roof proudly pointing to the sky know the symbolization to not be afraid to try something new, you know why? Because life can get boring when you stay within the limits you already know.

[1] The Art Story




[3] CitiGroup

Describe the impact on your education of studying New York City architecture out of the classroom. Should more students get this opportunity? Why or why not?

Studying the New York City architecture course out of the classroom could be beneficiary for the students in many good ways. It’s very interesting to have a class that can give you a different experience and show you a different way for professor to be teaching classes in a very unique form. I think is exciting for students to go once or more than once a week to field trip where they are learning about the New York history in live.

Since, the students get to see the actual building while their instructor or their classmates talk about the building history, architecture style, design, material, concept and the relationship between the building and the city development. The students get the opportunity to consume better the material giving in an outside class by the instructor and students. The outside class also give students the opportunity to see how the building look currently and the building condition. In contrast to looking at the building in images and been teach in a classroom which will be boring. As well as, the students can have easy access of going to places that they probably haven’t yet gone in New York city.

The   outside class motivates students to go to the class. I believe it force students to be responsible to go to one place and meet with the class which makes the difference of teaching students in a classroom  by  sending them   to an individual trip where you don’t know if they will assist or not. Honestly, I think I learned a lot about this outside classes, they were very helpful to me because I lived the actual experience of been taught in front of a specific building. This teaching will stay in my mind forever. I’m pretty sure every time I pass by these buildings, I visited in this architecture class I will remember about their history.


I think that this class has been one of the biggest benefits to me this semester. After three years I’ve been mad about not spending more class time outside, and signing up for this class I had no idea that this would even be an option. To be able to actually experience what we are learning about feels not only fun, but like I’m in a serious institute that cares about its student’s development. Sketching is another skill that I felt like I lacked, and 5 minute sketching was extremely beneficial. I have no complaints about the course itself, but rather the lack of storage and school facilities in general; even so, It wasnt an excuse for me not to show up to class. I looked forward to every Monday, and I truly wish for more students to be interested in real life education like this. If more classes could be taught like this, I would sign up for them all.

Assignment 14

How does the MoMA garden relate to other spaces in the city? What makes it
special? How does the architecture relate to the space?

The MoMA garden seems to be a center of all amazing architecture in the city.  Being a centroid of this modern architecture, it has a view of an art deco apartment; the Wardrobe building, also known as the AT&T building; and skyscrapers that gives you a full view of range of the neighborhood. What makes this area special is that it is alos a privately owned public space, that people are able to gather in and interact.
I think of the garden itself being architecturally significant; there is a reference to Le Corbusier at the buildings. Pilotis holding up a roof that saves you from the rain. The relief in the buildings is an emphasis that stands out to me, creating a more of a balance in the facades of the buildings that feels right. Not a balance of a scale, but just a balance of not wanting to change the current design.

Overall, the garden was aesthetically pleasing from the interior point of view of the MoMA. The floor to ceiling glass gives you the feeilng of being outdoors without being in the rain, the high ceilings make you forget one exists, the large flat plaza feels like it continues into the exterior, even though there is a material difference between the two.

Assignment 8

What is important about the way civic infrastructure is developed in a city? How
do Penn Station and Grand Central reflect New York City’s civic architectural
culture and history?

Penn station has been in the history books, as it has helped to develop the Landmark Preservation Department through it’s demise. After the proposed demolition of Pennsylvania Station, many protests had gone on, and even that didnt stop the developers. It is one of the most important buildings in architectural history that no longer exists, and it made a massive impact on the entire country.

Grand Central Station has for sure benefited from the demise of Penn Station. It is a wonderful design for a train station, with higher and lower levels that guide people from the street level to the station levels, with sloping floors and stairs. It has a beautiful ceiling with the constellations painted on them, and lights shining through each one of the main stars.

Even though the both of these buildings were and are beautiful, i believe that the designs and building of the tracks and tunnels themselves would be more important than them; but the way that new york city was designed didnt help very much with infastructure in the city.

Assignment 9

How do the Chrysler and Empire compare? Describe the massing, materials, and
detailing of each?


The Chrystler building is an eager representation of Art Deco Architecture. Standing on street level, and I, finally seeing the building not from miles away through other buildings, saw this  grand entrance that guides you inside; the bright light from the interior softly glowing through the translucent panels that face the back on this coffin shaped archway. The intricate details stuck in my mind, ranging from the zigzag patterns to the simple pentagonal shapes of the glass in the entrance doors. The entire base floor is encased in a black stone that surprised me after only seeing the crown for so long.

In contrast, the Empire State Building seems much less decorative. A building that is now a tourists attraction, there is a possibility for that to be its goal in the first place. Being built in hopes to be the tallest building in the city, and having a blimp landing pad, it all seems like some sort of PR stunt. The building itself has extreme verticallity, as if guiding your eyes up towards the sky. Majority of it being steel and glass, i can see how it was modern during the initial building phase. It looks more like a stacked wedding cake than the Chrystler, with less circular details. The exterior facade is lined with limestone and granite, which is very pleaseing aesthetically

Week 13 Assignment

Compare place making and urban planning at Hudson Yards to Battery Park City.

Battery park city, was extended land that didn’t have a previous, or double use; it is extended land, off of the coast of manhattan, and was initially designed to be some sort of recreational space for the people living in the neighborhoods. The area includes parks, walkways by the coast of the Hudson river, a getty for recreational sailboats to park, and a connection to shopping centers.

Hudson yards was created as a benefit for the city on top of train yards; it is more seen, in my opinion, as upgrading the land, as well as upping its value. That could be looked at as a negative thing, that includes gentrification, but there could also be a positivity to this; for example, adaptive reuse. By reusing the highline, instead of demolishing land, it benefits the entire population of everyone, and not adding to the heaps of already existing pollution.
I do think, that because the Hudson yards are an after thought, that they aren’t as cohesive as they could be; its more of an advertisement and tourist entertainment.

What I did thing was interesting, is that both of there had some sort of raised pedestrian element to them; Battery park originally was supposed to be a raised pedestrian area that separated vehicular traffic from foot traffic; now, in a way, the Highline is an extension of that type of thinking, but developed from a pre-existing condition that was a train track and train yard.

The Impact of studying New York City architecture out of the classroom. Should more students get this opportunity? Why and why not?

We live in a city with grade architectures, why not visit them?

Seeing the buildings in front of us gives us a real sense of scale, which is often not easy for me to picture. We can see the details of the building very clearly in real life compared to a flat two-dimensional image. We can see the material used on the buildings up close and how they are arranged and how they are treading the façades. We also have a chance to learn the neighborhood and why it makes sense for the building to sit in that specific spot or why not. The placements of the buildings compared to the streets and views make sense when we are out there and observing the buildings. Those views are hard to find online or in books. We can experience the interior space. The experiences under the low ceiling and an atrium are very different and we can physically feel it. It will not be possible to understand the interior condition if we are sitting in the class and looking through images.

I wasn’t expecting the class to take place outside of the school. I was very excited to go outside and see what we learn in school. I haven’t missed one class despite the harsh weather condition. More students should get this opportunity. It helps me paint the information about the buildings by seeing them in real life. This opportunity also should not be limited to just the history class. Because of this class, when I walk past a building with my friends, I felt confidence to share my knowledge about the buildings.

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