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tom moody

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Artist Bill Schwarz refers to a certain type of architectural addition as "spaceships settled on rooftops." Above is a picture of the one that will "finish" the Hearst building at 8th Ave. and 56th Street in Manhattan. Construction was halted during the Depression (I'd previously heard it was during World War II due to steel shortages), and "resumed," with a slightly different plan, this year. I believe the original five-story deco structure is in the historic registry--it always looked oddly truncated, but if it's going to be a "base" for something, dear God, why does it have to be this? A compendium of articles here calls it a "lava lamp," but I think I prefer "geodesic sock puppet."

UPDATE: According to some of the linked articles, the "base" was built by Joseph Urban in 1928 and the structure never completed because of the onset of the Depression and the decline in William Randolph Hearst's personal fortunes. It was designated a Landmark in 1988, which means the Landmark Commission actually signed off on this turkey of a "completion" project!

UPDATE: I want to be as clear as I can about why I find this design ludicrous. I'm not opposed to "parabuildings"--Herbert Muschamp's intellectually dishonest term for add-ons usually motivated by greed or vanity, but sometimes just to pay the mortgage--nor am I some Prince Charles purist who hates Modernist-style architecture. The Hearst building is like mixing stripes and plaids though. Not only is the combination of building styles jarring and ugly, the Modernist top is a sham. The "Fuller-esque" structure serves no practical purpose, it's just modern-looking cladding over your standard post-and-lintel box.

- tom moody 11-12-2003 9:09 pm [link] [7 comments]