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New York City’s City Planning Commission likes Jean Nouvel, but not really

New York City’s City Planning Commission likes Jean Nouvel, but not really

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metropolitan-museum-of-modern-art-moma-exterior-from-aryn-on-flickr

As I commented on Curbed, slicing 200 feet off of Jean Nouvel’s Tower Verre is a ridiculous solution to what New York City’s City Planning Commission paradoxically viewed as an “exemplary,” yet inadequate, design.  According to commissioner Amanda Burden, there are differing standards, delineated by the (arbitarily chosen) height of 1,050 feet, for what constitutes “exemplary” design.

If Jean Nouvel knew he’d be subjected to the CPC’s “look for any excuse to reject the design, however uncredible” approach to the planning process, he would’ve avoided the commission’s objective-sounding subjective assessment that “the applicant has not made a convincing argument that the building’s top 200 feet be worthy of the zone in which it would rise.”

I recognize the CPC was referring to the fact that the tower would have a skyline-altering affect - and that it was motivated by a legitimate expectation that the tower co-exist with Midtown’s respectable giants (i.e., Chrysler Tower & Empire State Building).  But in framing its decision by saying it was “good, just not at that height,” it ignored (probably intentionally) the obvious reality that its height was an integral component to the tower’s elegantly staggered, appropriately scaled, upper reaches.  It’s hardly worth stating that a drastic reduction in height necessitates drastic changes in design to accommodate new proportions and severely affected financial projections.

Perhaps the CPC’s quixotic decision will yield a true monument of contemporary modernism (thereby affirming that height bears little relation to architectural beauty), just as the Barclay Center’s harrowing journey has mercifully produced a respectable arena by SHoP Architects.  I’m doubtful.  At least Axi Mundi’s proposed alternative was declined.

Image courtesy of aryn

One Comment

  1. [...] New York City’s City Council just approved Jean Nouvel’s proposed design for the new MoMA Tower even though the developer has yet to reveal changes incorporating a not-so-minor 200-foot height reduction, which was imposed by the City Planning Commission. [...]

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