Kristen Richards’s ArchNewsNow for today has several surprises. One is in an article by Beth Dunlop for American Way magazine, “Light Fantastic,” which is about the celebrated modernist architect Richard Meier. It has a line that shivered the marrow of my funny bone.
Meier’s 2000 Alfonse M. D’Amato United States Courthouse in Central Islip, Long Island, is so beloved that even after 18 years, weekend commuters to and from the Hamptons detour past it to bask in the glow of its façade.
Really? “What the hell’s that assassinating the landscape?” is more like what I’d expect to hear. But I am sure Dunlop is correct. There are a predictable number of cranks and lunatics in any given group of 1,000 commuters to the Hamptons. On the other hand, it does remind me of when I was a kid in our Rambler station wagon zooming round the Washington Beltway waiting for the betowered Mormon Temple to rise up around a bend on the horizon and then disappear as we sped by. But that’s a good memory. The temple puts the D’Amato federal courthouse to shame.
Then there’s another article in ANN, “Save the Union Carbide building!” by Douglas Feiden, written for Our Town: The Local Paper for the Upper East Side. Designed by Natalie Griffin de Blois of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the UCB, completed in 1961, is a black glass box virtually indistinguishable from the Seagram Building, by Mies, which, unfortunately, is not also slated to come down. The UCB would become the tallest building ever to be razed on purpose. If it does, it would take that status away from the sainted Singer Building, the tallest tower to be demolished intentionally since 1968, when it came down at Broadway and Liberty, to be replaced by the U.S. Steel tower, another black glass box, now called One Liberty. Like all these blotches, the Union Carbide, at 270 Park Ave., is a corporate borathon. I say let ‘er rip.
And get a load of this quote:
Indeed, SOM has belatedly acknowledged that the firm’s signature works on Park Avenue could never have taken shape without de Blois.
For she not only cracked the glass ceiling, she also built it.
Bully for her! I’m not sure I’d brag so hard on that these days, especially not a man on a woman’s behalf. That line’s a great example of the advice old editors give to young writers: Kill your babies. If it sounds too cute at first blush, it deserves to be cut. Build the glass ceiling, indeed! What ever happened to crack on and keep on crackin’ that glass ceiling? That’s the spirit, not build the glass ceiling.
But put that aside. ANN has Claire Berlinski’s excellent piece on Paris from City Journal, featured on this blog as “Berlinski: Sacking of Paris.” It’s on today’s list. ANN obviates a host of sins for that.