Who’ll stop Branson hotel?

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A block on Broadway in New York. (Photo by David Rau)

David Rau sent this nice photograph to the TradArch list in an email titled “Paris in New York.” He writes:

A string of Second Empire buildings along Broadway in the 20s. At center is the Ace Hotel (interiors by Roman & Williams), with the NoMad Hotel at right (interiors by French decorator Jacques Garcia). A converted coop apartment building sits far left. Maybe not exactly Rue de Rivoli, but I’ll take it. Richard Branson is constructing a Virgin Hotel, designed by VOA, just across the street.

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Proposed across the street. (Virgin Hotels)

The photo at left of the proposed hotel will break your heart.

Will the people in the rooms of the lovely hotels get a break in price because of the new view?

Construction on the hotel has apparently already broken ground. To rely upon the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to block this thing is to misunderstand the organization: Like so many other preservation organizations around the country, and indeed around the world, it is no longer what it purports to be but rather the agent of forces it was founded to resist.

Who today will stand up against such a monstrosity? The Institute of Classical Art & Architecture? You’d think. But the fact is that no organization exists to opp0se this crime by Richard Branson.

Stick to airplanes, Dick, or rockets if you must!!!

New York is a lost cause, as London has become. These are places that will only grow uglier. Beauty is spitting in the wind. There is still a chance that we might still always have Paris – but that chance is growing slimmer.

About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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7 Responses to Who’ll stop Branson hotel?

  1. Why don’t community members have a say in the kinds of development occurring/planned in their neighborhoods? Left to the private sector only, we will continue to get out of scale and context, and out of character buildings.

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    • Alan, I’m not sure but I think the community does have a say in this kind of thing, if not necessarily the power to stop it. But if the community paid more attention and attended meetings of the planning and design review authorities, they might find that their ability to influence what was built even along Broadway, in NYC, is a lot more significant than they might think. Ugly goes up without opposition today because it is largely without opposition. Change that, and we can change the face of the world.

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  2. cybergal99 says:

    This monstrocity will be across the street from some of the most splendid architecture ever created in this city .. this is an absolute CRIME against the architectural integrity of the area .. I could weep seeing this now

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  3. Steven Semes says:

    Is the hotel site within the historic district? Where is it exactly?

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