As a Manhattanite, student and practitioner of architecture, and lover of modern architecture I disagree with James Gardner, formerly the architecture critic of the New York Sun who states in his post (below), “…we must pray is not the future of architecture.” I like the unusual materials of these buildings and the unique sculptural elements they have. But what I like best is how they have made their neighborhoods relevent again with a sence of high-style and hipness. Tell me what you think.
To say that 245 10th Avenue (Photos) is Manhattan’s latest contribution to the cult of ugliness is not necessarily as disrespectful as it sounds. Like the rebarbative High Line 519 (3D View) one block south on 23rd Street, 245 10th Avenue is a particularly eccentric example of Mod-meets-deconstruction, with retro-glances to the aesthetics of the 1960s and forward glances to what we must pray is not the future of architecture.
But if this nearly completed development at 245 10th Avenue (Photos) is ugly, at least it is intentionally so, which is some improvement on the status of many another recent New York building, which is unintentionally so. As a fairly representative example of the deconstructed species in question, it buckles or recedes where you would rationally expect it to present a planar wall. Along 10th Avenue, its wobbly façade is a checkered curtain wall of darker and paler panels, while to the south it appears as a windowless expanse whose blinding silvery cladding, in the proper sunlight, might well wreak havoc upon cars speeding up 10th Avenue.
Integral to the design of the new building, conceived by the architectural firm Della Valle + Bernheimer, is its proximity to a Lukoil gas station, immediately to its south. The implications of blue collar authenticity supplied by the gas station are a priceless commodity in this stretch of Chelsea, precisely because there are so few blue collar types around, and ever fewer with each passing day.
In a similar vein, across the street, heading south is a car wash, and next to that another recent condo development, Vesta 24, which is only a little more conservative than 245 10th Avenue. And yet, it requires no gift for prophecy to foresee a time, in the very near future, when the gas station and car wash will themselves give way to new developments, which will be very much like their neighbors. But all of them, once deprived of their crucial blue collar props, will look every bit as misshapen as 245 10th Avenue (Photos) today, only more so.