Trick or Treat: SOM drops an outlandish doughnut into Manhattan

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

When I first saw renderings of SOM’s proposal for Grand Central Station, I didn’t even bother to read about it. It looked… not that great. SOM (along with others) was asked to submit an architectural intervention for the area surrounding Grand Central Station. The folks funding this design work are hoping to generate the public support needed to have the area rezoned. This rezoning would allow greater density and taller towers, somehow preventing the area from becoming a soulless jumble of chain restaurants. So my initial disappointment with the proposal was due to the towers themselves: they are fine, but nothing more. The aren’t exciting, they’re boring. And what was this halo perched between them?  It’s a pretty ostentatious connection for two unambitious towers. And doesn’t it just look like a clear version of that Olafur Eliasson museum extension in Denmark? But then I realized that the halo had an impressive trick: it moves.

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

Up and down, up and down, this urban-scaled doughnut is an elevator that climbs from the cornice of Grand Central to the… to the… top of the towers. Towers that I no longer even care about because that moving thing is too exciting. How awesome would it be to ride in this thing? Frightening, sure. But just pretend to be standing inside, watching the city sink below you as unprecedented mechanics pull you toward thinner air. I can imagine watching this precarious contraption from ground level in awe, and I can wonder how movies will use this spectacle as a setting for romance or crafty criminals. But this design work is not a design proposal. It’s supposed to help us imagine a new reality for the neighborhood around Grand Central station, sure– but I quit caring about the neighborhood around Grand Central Station the moment I found out this metal circle could lift folks away from it.

SOM Grand Central Station doughnut halo New York

And that’s a larger problem. In trying to garner support for a rezoning effort, this proposal distracts from what’s really happening on the streets of the neighborhood. It’s exciting to imagine a novel attraction for the city, but if we’re trying to reinvigorate a small portion of that city’s urban fabric, it doesn’t help to shift focus toward a pie in the sky. Or here, a doughnut. I absolutely agree that this doughnut is “saccharine, overwhelming, and nutritionally suspect” even if I still fall into the trap of wanting it to happen immediately.

Alex Dent

October 26, 2012 / By

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Braden Graeber

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Braden Graber

Braden Graber

We’ve reached the end of the series of Halloween Desktop Wallpapers so why not end the week as Halloween night ends for most kids? With razors in chocolates, shitty “healthy” candy, and a peanut butter cup or two that you eat immediately because it’s the best candy you have. The final wallpaper is by Braden Graeber and is an homage to Halloween candy culture. There’s a little bit of grandma hard candy we all hate, broken Pixy Sticks because Pixy Sticks always break, and some Tic-Tac looking pills that are undoubtedly treats for the parents: it’s all a part of Halloween. Braden’s has laid it all out in a colorful, humorous, and somewhat entrancing way to remind you of that Halloween isn’t just about frights and fun–it’s also about terrible candy.

Bobby Solomon

October 26, 2012 / By

Back from the dead: the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

the Parrish Art Museum by Herzog and de Meuron

Next month, the Parrish Art Museum will open a new building on the Montauk highway in New York. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the finished museum is not what the architects originally intended to build. That initial design was much more complex and nearly triple the budget of the long and low structure that now stands. Not too surprisingly, the budget was axed back in 2008 when the economic crisis was reaching fever pitch. Things did not look great for the building. However, the paring down has made the building better. The formal complexity eschewed by the realized design has not lessened how impressive the standing structure is. According Architectural Record:

Inside, it’s one success after another. From a circulation spine that resembles the nave of a very elegant cathedral, roof beams rise to heights that make the galleries feel grand, but never grandiose. Most of those galleries have the kind of perfect proportions that create a sense of calm, and at the same time a feeling of exhilaration. And they are large enough for big works, including John Chamberlain sculptures, yet intimate enough to make even small, 19th century paintings feel cossetted.

Not bad for a building that only four years ago had one foot in the grave.

Alex Dent

October 25, 2012 / By

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Spencer Harrison

The Halloween Wallpaper Project featuring Spencer Harrison

Spencer Harrison

We’re nearing the end of our week of Halloween wallpapers but the momentum isn’t slowing down. Today we have a fun wallpaper from Spencer Harrison a designer from Melbourne who founded Happy Stüdio. For his wallpaper he took a smattering of everything that makes this day Halloween-y and laid it out in a clear, concise manner. This is the wallpaper for the designer who likes their Halloween to be clean and minimal, don’t you think?

Thanks so much to Spencer and check back tomorrow for our final wallpaper!

Bobby Solomon

October 25, 2012 / By

Mysterious Beauty in Daniel Evans’ Series ’3 Months in Another Place’

There’s something strange and mysterious about these photographs by the Liverpudlian photographer Daniel Evans. Taken between September and November of 2010, the photographs come from a much larger series of images called 3 Months In Another Place.

Evans says that the series is made up of photographs of the things that he finds interesting. He created the series while out with friends, on his bike or getting lost in the woods. “The project combines both portraits and still life images of people i know and spend my time with” he says, “[it combines] objects that I use or go past on a day to day basis.”

Despite this simple description of the work it feels to me that this series somehow becomes greater then its parts. Looking through the photographs it’s easy to draw a connections between many of the images; from the crumpled metal of the car, to the girl holding tinfoil and onto the tinfoil-covered furniture. There’s almost a Lynchian surrealism about them and whether intentional or not, these thematic elements seem to hint at a strange unsettling narrative. You can view the full series of work online here.

Philip Kennedy

October 25, 2012 / By

Google+