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Of course they compare it to the previous building! This was one of the most heated preservation battles since Penn Station. The original facade was was listed as one of the World Monuments Fund's 100 Most Endangered Sites in 2006, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2004. How could the critics not compare the reclad to the original? I think they should have renovated the original design, and made it more functional (which I'm sure would have been possible if they wanted to do so). That would have been much better than this badly botched extreme makeover.


And if you want to bring up fact-checking, you write: "Did I mention that the facade facing Central Park on Stone's building had no windows?" Not true, there were windows up at the top, in the same spot that now forms the horizontal strip in the giant H on this new design


I liked the original building and I like this version of it. Besides it could of been worse, Gehry could of done the redesign.

Brian Libby

Al, you're right that I was incorrect about the windows at the very top. I guess I was thinking about the 90 percent of the old facade that was a bare monolithic windowless slab.

It's also true, as you mentioned, that it's understandable to bring up the old building in a review. Perhaps I didn't articulate well enough in the post that my issue was the critics never getting past that first point.

As far as I'm concerned, the DID renovate the original design. It's more or less the same floorplate and proportions as the old biulding, and preserves some of the lollipops under glass. That's part of why I like the job Cloepfil did.


Is the local media giving a fair review by criticizing the reviews of qualified individuals who HAVE actually visited the project?

Brian Libby

Truth, I see your point. They've been there and I haven't.

But I didn't consider this post to be a review.

I know it can be ambiguous, seriously, because I did offer my opinion in the post. Even so, I felt like the purpose in writing this was to stir conversation. I'll be the first to admit I'm personally withholding final judgment until I see it in person.

Until then, though, I think it's fair to observe the observations. Media criticism is a worthy endeavor in its own right, as I'm sure you know.

The other point I hoped to make in the post was that some of the reviews seem to offer a more rosy, nostalgic view of the original Edward Durell Stone building than I ever remember existing while it was around.

What's more, having lived in New York for a good part of the 1990s, I remember what a dead zone Columbus Circle was then. And while perhaps this area is now becoming just the opposite -- too commercialized, glitzy and bland -- I still think a project like this is a big gain, and not a loss. I see where those critics are coming from, but I just simply disagree. I think the Stone building was a curios piece of crap.

Even though I haven't been to the museum, what I identified in the post, or at least tried to, was that the reviews seem understandably focused on the exterior, and even the bad reviews include nice words about the interior. As it happens, the exterior is the part it's easiest to see in pictures and begin to form an opinion about. So that's what I was doing.


Well...it is pretty ugly...i had never actually seen the original before. I almost like the old version better...it was a bit too monolithic...but the columns on top were interesting...it just seems like another bland glass tower now...sort of stripped of individuality, imho


Not that this has anything whatsoever to do with the building, but what's up with The New Yorker referring to Cloepfil as a "young architect"? Is that, "Oh, he's from this out-of-the-way place and I've never heard of him before, so he must be young"? Or is Allied Works sending out 10-year-old head shots?

Frank Dufay

Sorry, but I've got to side with the preservationists on this one. I don't get what statement this new re-decorated box makes.

I grew up with the Huntington Hartford museum, it had a huge Dali collection that my Mom loved, and the lollipop building was an icon I recognized and as a kid loved visiting. I know, I know, icon, schmicon...what a reactionary. Thank God we have Donald Trump tarting up the old neighborhood, and Disney saving us from the horrors of 42nd street, while destroying any sense of place and history in NY. The Great White Way becomes the malling and mauling of Times Square.

Yankee and Shea Stadiums gone...what's next in the corporate branding and blanding of America?


I think Nicolai Ouroussoff also mentioned the renovation of 2 Columbus Circle in another article...a list of about 10 big NY buildings he thought the city would be better off just tearing down(couldn't find that online). I don't remember his saying 2 Columbus Circle should be torn down, but I do seem to remember him saying that in unsuccessfully going through the process of having some starchitects like Gehry propose some ideas, and eventually winding up with Cloepfil's effort here, nobody got what they wanted.

I've never seen 2 Columbus Circle firsthand. From the pics and what I've read about it, I'll say that I like natural stone and eastern influences, so the 'lollipop' detailing of the Durell Stone design was fine with me. So much blank wall space on the exterior; is this because, it being a museum, they need to prioritize wall space to hang things, or, they want to keep the sunlight out to avoid damaging the artwork inside? Still seems kind of oppressive, even with Cloepfil's new design.

Overall though, Cloepfil's design of the exterior seems definitely better than the old one. It's less oppressive. Seems awfully white, but things could be worse. I wish I could think of something really nice to say about it, since Cloepfil is a Portland guy, and some of his other stuff is really nice (check out the pics of the residential house he designed in upstate NY, featured in last weekend's NYtimes 'T' magazine, style addition). Fact is though, to me it looks just too much like some trendy hipster clock radio.

Brian Libby

Frank, you're right about Yankee Stadium. I won't miss Shea, though.

Frank Dufay

I won't miss Shea, though.

It was part of the 64-65 World's Fair site...and the then hapless Mets. (Did I say "then"?) At least there's still the "iconic" Unisphere left. The thing was Shea Stadium was served by the Long Island Railroad, so us snotty surburban kids could actually come into "the City" by ourselves, without our parents freaking out. Until we got older, anyway, and the evil Village beckoned.

Brian Libby

Ha! Frank, the evil Village was where I attended college. I think the only really evil part, though, was NYU's tuition.

Randy Rapaport

I am sure that the architecture firms who were
interested in this project knew that it would be a political, design controlled situation. Brad, then, I assume felt he was up for it. I wonder how he feels about the result. Perhaps a more OR less pervasive approach would have yielded a better outcome in this case?

As it turned out, i think that there were so many design requirements related to preservation of the original design and the desire to create something fresh and design significant that it was an extremely difficult challenge for any designer; The extent to which this is true may explain the result.

After reading the NY times review, which i found very critical, i concluded that they should have done a rehab to the interior with
the primary exterior objective of bringing in light while keeping more with the original design.

Double J

Jerry Saltz seemed to like it.

Also, I sense that NYC is still feeling every like every major project needs to somehow make up for the massive failure of imagination that this the World Trade Center site.

People Ive spoken to seem to like the building from the outside (how it subtly changes)and think the galleries are sucessful. A building's reputation isnt always made at the tape cutting... it's often its sustained use. Especially if it happens to be a museum.


It aiin't so great. Brad C isnt the best thing since sliced bread. I wish people would get over it already. I've seen plenty of these types of reviews in the NYT. At least they actually review buildings instead of giving it a paragraph hand job and 12 glossies of some mies chairs and a lobby.
Why is a review like this suddenly so offensive when it is one of the few stars of the area? I'm not so sure his aesthetic is translating across the country and I am ok with that.

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