Opinion

Architecture Drama on 53rd Street

Will Jean Nouvel’s MoMA tower get built? The initially 1,250 foot project has already had its crown knocked off and it is now slated to be 1,050 feet high but no word yet about the final design, according to the New York Observer this week:

Two weeks ago, Hines quietly filed a new set of plans with the Department of City Planning. They are compliant with two special permits that the commission and the City Council approved in the fall of 2009, which enforce the 1,050-foot height along with restrictions on things like a loading dock for the new building and the museum’s sculpture garden fence — something that has been bothering the neighbors ever since the 2003 renovations. According to a department spokesperson, the application is a chair certification, which does not require public approvals. The process is meant to ensure that the project is in accordance with what was previously agreed upon; a review has no set timeframe.

Of course, MoMA and Nouvel would be crazy if they thought their acrophobic neighbors, who thought 500 feet was high enough for the Nouvel, will be applauding the new plans, so I don’t blame them for not being forthcoming about the latest developments. But, in my opinion, there’s more at stake in this architectural battle than a few hundred feet, it may very well represent if Manhattan is truly turning into Paris or some other city that is more architectural museum than architectural laboratory. The future used to be built on the island of 1.6 million people, but sadly that’s not really true anymore.

In related news, and across the street for the high temple of Modern Art, the former O’Donnell Library has just been sold and it will be … wait for it condos! Who wants to bet they won’t be much to look at?

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