The Unbearable Banishment: Death in Manhattan x 2

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Death in Manhattan x 2

I was walking up Varick Street at 7:00 a.m. and came across this sad sight.

Some shitheel took out a tree with his/her sloppy driving. It was a direct hit. It looks like they drove their car right onto the sidewalk and up the trunk of the tree. They stripped the bark clean off for added insult. I can only hope the car was damaged beyond repair.

For some reason, my heart always breaks a little bit when I see a tree taken down. Who doesn't love trees!? I especially enjoyed J.R.R. Tolkien's treatment of them. At this point, Manhattan is almost solid concrete. Trees are a scarce commodity. This is one of the distinguishing characteristics that makes London a nicer city than New York. London is much greener and feels more like a collection of homey neighborhoods.

* * *

Here's a rather plain but still attractive building on 8th Avenue and 15th Street across from the the truly gorgeous Apple store. It has some clean lines and I like the crown work. The brick façade is nice and warm. The awning is a nice touch. Unfortunately, it has been murdered by some shitheel architect.

We're all out of horizontal space in New York so a popular work-around is to utilize the vertical space. There are lots of older buildings that have had structures added to the top of them. It can sometimes work with the existing aesthetics but what happened here is an abomination.

An ugly, festering, cancerous carbuncle has been jammed onto the top of the original building. It doesn't have anything whatsoever to do with the original design. But what the hell. I'm sure they're making a fortune off the rentals and in New York, too often, that's what it's all about.

Fun fact: To the right is the Old Holmstead Steak House. At 140 years, it's one of the oldest steak houses in Manhattan. I had a Kobe beef burger there once and it was kind of gross. The meat was almost raw.


Anonymous daisyfae said...

at least the tree can be replaced. nothing short of a miracle can fix the modified architecture.

seriously - the vertical space could have been exploited in a way that didn't make it look as though a high-tech trailer park hadn't sprouted from the roof...

November 7, 2010 at 12:07 PM  
Blogger Eryl said...

Having braced myself for the photo of the modified building I still shrieked when I saw it.

I hope the person driving that car crapped him/herself!

I have some lovely photos of tree lined London, I'll have to look them out and post them.

November 7, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Daisy: I've seen PLENTY of examples whereby a building had floors added and it worked in perfect symmetry with the existing structure.

Eryl: Wouldn't it be hysterical if the architect who ruined that building was the same person who murdered that tree!?

November 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger savannah said...

call me crazy (and i'm sure you will) but, i think that building is fantastic! i know it is a shocking juxtaposition, but that's really what keeps architecture vibrant (and certainly elicits comment) in cities. i'm all for adaptive reuse and keeping buildings in the moment, so to speak, instead of getting bogged down in historic preservation, or worse yet, demolished because the significance isn't important enough. it's a fine balance to my mind and in this case, the streetscape is preserved and the abomination is a setback surprise! xoxoxo

November 7, 2010 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

I don't mind the style of the addition, but the colour! Flat grey... how dull. Why not something that doesn't scream "borrrrrriinnnnnggggg"... that would coordinate with the surrounding brick colours. Liven things up perhaps. Ah well. At least there are trees up there that no one can run down.

My city (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) has tons of trees. And parks. I love the greenery here. Although we are now into the browns as everything dies off in preparation of the deep freeze that approacheth. The weather has been above normal, though, so I am not complaining at all!

November 7, 2010 at 4:34 PM  
Blogger ~E said...

Wow. Somebody needs to go to Architect school again. Clearly.

November 7, 2010 at 5:59 PM  
Blogger Madame DeFarge said...

That is a monstrous building. Totally pointless.

November 7, 2010 at 6:03 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Savannah: I think it's great that you love this building! I most certainly do NOT think you're crazy. We all like different things. That's why they invented menus.

Ponita: Perhaps something as innocent as changing the color could have helped. You're right. There is too stark a contrast between the two.

E: Again? Perhaps they never went to begin with. And welcome back.

Madame: You should see it in person! Ghastly! Especially when compared to the Apple Store right across the street. An exercise in contrasts.

November 7, 2010 at 7:20 PM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I love Kobe beef - and the rarer the better

November 8, 2010 at 2:28 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

You and Prince Charles are brothers under the skin;)
Hey guess what the WV is?
irronery. Tee hee!

November 8, 2010 at 5:32 AM  
Blogger Pueblo girl said...

Shit, they've made that building fugly. They do that a lot here in Spain too - Spanish architects seem to love the contrast between old and new.

November 8, 2010 at 6:13 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Nurse: I'd like to try a Kobe steak but one burger was enough for me, thanks!

Pat: I'm am EXACTLY like the Prince. Except for the money. And the blue blood. And he doesn't have to sit in an office all day (see previous post).

PG: I always wanted to visit Spain for the architecture. I have the impression that those guys really know what their doing. The food is pretty dynamite, too.

November 8, 2010 at 7:27 AM  
Blogger CiCi said...

In a concrete city it is a sad thing to see a tree destroyed. City living is great in some ways but for me I prefer country and trees and nature.

November 8, 2010 at 8:26 AM  
Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

I hate that when that happens to trees as well.
Some vandals think it's great fun to rip up sapplings. If I caught them they'd feel the wrath of my tongue... and maybe a bit more.

November 8, 2010 at 8:56 AM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

i guess it's an intersting juxtaposition of styles. nyc is slowly turing into a game of tetris!

November 8, 2010 at 10:10 AM  
Blogger Jason Quinones said...

on the subject of wife walked into a starbucks, orderd a coffee and asked the barista if she could leave her coffee on the pickup counter while she used the restroom. the barista looked at her horrified and informed her that she could not use it as it was currently being occupied by a junkie who was just found in there "asleep" with a needle in his arm. she quickly left the starbucks to find cops and an ambulance waiting outside and ready to enter...

November 8, 2010 at 10:14 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

TB: There's a word for people like you who prefer to not live in a major city: NORMAL.

SB: I wish I could have witnessed the dirty deed. I'd have copied down the license plate number and hunted them down.

Jason: Tetris analogy = LOL!

November 8, 2010 at 1:02 PM  
Blogger Sausage said...

I never understood why in the states that proper driving lessons were required to obtain a DL. Any pimple faced moron can pass the 30 minute test, make them learn for at least 6 months - save the trees man.....

November 8, 2010 at 4:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe if you wait another 140 years to go to the steakhouse they might have it cooked up to at least medium rare?

and, yeah, the wart on the building needs to have drapes put over it. it's mother must be ashamed.

November 8, 2010 at 5:44 PM  
Blogger JZ said... wrote this one for me didn't you?! How sweet! I know this building and, aesthetics aside, its a strong work of contemporary technology yielding a new solution. Whether its successful is another debate.

Let me put this another way, shall we continue dress as the Victorians did? Or abolish all music made outside of the High Period of Classicism? Of course not. If society does not occasionally abandon our preconceptions of beauty, you could have never achieved any of the praise-worthy artwork you fill your blog with.

Further, I personally enjoy the tension and clarity achieved when architectural adaptation expresses the time in which it was built. There are two sides to aesthetics, one personal, one philosophical. Beauty may remain in the eye of the beholder, but objective appreciation has its own rewards.

thank you for the time and place to rant.

rant now over.

(poor tree)

November 10, 2010 at 7:47 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

JZ: In fact, I *DID* write this with you in mind! Where the hell have you been?! Glad to see you finally comment. You may have a valid point with your tension/clarity argument, but how do you account for it looking like a bus fell from the sky and wedged itself into the roof of this poor building?

November 10, 2010 at 8:32 AM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

I actually don't mind that building. They do that here a lot as well, at least the street view is maintained. Prefer that to tearing down the whole building and putting up an abomination that you have to walk past and wince at on a daily basis.

November 11, 2010 at 5:08 AM  

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