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Architect Sir David Adjaye becomes the first back-to-back winner (Oct, Nov) at the Eyesore of the Month with this unfortunate and misconceived humdinger for lower Manhattan at 130 William Street. Unfortunate because this kind of residential mega-tower was the-thing-to-do just a year ago, before Covid-19 rang out around the world, and then, suddenly, well-off Manhattanites began bugging out of the city, and international travel dribbled away, and foreign capital stopped parking itself in luxury New York real estate, and the price of all that real estate started crashing, and, well, the business model for projects like this came screeching to an end. So, do you understand that this type of luxury skyscraper is now obsolete? Manhattan life won’t be roaring back to pre-Covid normality anytime soon, if ever. With the Everything Bubble ready to pop, international capital itself is about to do a colossal disappearing act. The restaurants are not just struggling, their owners are bankrupt. The hotel business is on-the-rocks. If Broadway recovers, it may be a shadow of what it used to be. Even the future of major league sports is dubious. The office towers are still mostly unoccupied. Countless citizens are still in forbearance for rents, mortgages, and other loans — meaning they will eventually have to pay back all those months they were excused from paying (ha!) — plus consider that if landlords, mortgage-holders, and other creditors don’t get paid back, insolvency thunders through the system… see where all this leads?

So, yes, unfortunate… bad timing… paradigm shifts are unforgiving.

Then there’s the baleful design of 130 William Street per se. Mr. Adjaye has uncannily come up with the instant Modernist Gothic ruin. The soot-colored, pock-marked cladding looks like the building has been exposed to acid rain for seven hundred years, and the quasi-Romanesque arched windows add to the gloomy effect. Only gargoyles are lacking. The rendering below seems incomplete without a melancholy hunchback perched at the windowsill contemplating the cruel rise-and-fall of empires and the tragic heedlessness of human beings. Wait for the building to be sold for dimes on the dollar sometime in 2022.

Shout-out to. Ray Sawhill for the nomination.

 


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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency and the four-book series of World Made By Hand novels, set in a post economic crash American future. His most recent book is Living in the Long Emergency; Global Crisis, the Failure of the Futurists, and the Early Adapters Who Are Showing Us the Way Forward. Jim lives on a homestead in Washington County, New. York, where he tends his garden and communes with his chickens.

16 Responses to “November 2020” Subscribe

  1. tom clark November 4, 2020 at 4:05 pm #

    Speaking of paradigm shifts, maybe Donny T. will buy up a few of these empty towers for his next 4 years of fun and frolic.

    • Ishabaka November 26, 2020 at 6:01 am #

      T.D.S. is a terrible affliction.

  2. tucsonspur November 5, 2020 at 3:30 am #

    This modern, menacing monolith, with its grim and grimy exterior is really out of place overlooking the wonderful East River. Does it crave its waters so it can be cleansed? Is this some kind of new architectural chiaroscuro? Where wouldn’t it be out of place, Pluto?

    One wonders about the gloomy building’s gesture towards lower Manhattan. Maybe it’s hinting at piles of dirty money. There are great views of the Brooklyn Bridge, and perhaps the architect might have paid homage to that magnificent structure by imitating its Gothic arches in his window treatment instead of using that folly of tragi-comic fenestration.

    This great example of grotesquerie, this gruesome, graphitic block of bone black makes me certain that there must be at least a few guillotines around ready to dispatch squealing swindlers.

    I’m strongly against sticking a perforated charcoal briquette into lower Manhattan. Thank God this wasn’t the building chosen to replace the twin towers. Well yes, it probably wouldn’t be attacked since it looks charred, bleak and bombed out, but that’s really not the point.

  3. Kim November 6, 2020 at 6:28 am #

    Needs a good scrub with a stiff wire brush.

  4. lateStarter November 6, 2020 at 11:08 am #

    Funny. Laughing at myself. When I saw the first picture, I thought we were going to be discussing the blue building to the right. I just assumed that the other building was some left over relic from the 70’s that had not been torn down yet.

    • James Kuehl November 6, 2020 at 7:47 pm #

      That blue building to the right is One World Trade Center—sort of a monument at the scene of the heinous crime that kicked off our current century.

      • lateStarter November 7, 2020 at 2:51 am #

        Thanks for the info. I don’t get out much. Last time in NYC, the old WTC was/were still standing.

  5. JCalvertNUK November 6, 2020 at 10:57 pm #

    It could be used as a movie set.
    “Ghostbusters V” anyone?
    Or, “Batman takes Gollum City”?

  6. spikedpsycho November 16, 2020 at 2:24 pm #

    A building that looks like it’s been ravaged by 50 years of air pollution, What’ll happen after 50 years of air pollution?
    For the last half century, architects have used poor people as experiments to subjugate sociological control. From experiments from social interaction, crime control. Meanwhile The Iberville Housing projects in New Orleans
    https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c5/79/cd/c579cd08bcadc0da50e97207d220d01e.jpg

    Designed to blend in with the old neighborhood’s housing in terms of proportionality, size, and style, resembling rowhouses of the 19th century with gabled ends, galleries, chimneys, and ironwork. The city has thousands of units with Georgian brickwork and lacy ironwork…AND enjoys far less crime and violence than typical housing projects only blocks away. Proof traditional architecture is more sincere to residents psychology.

    This is why modernists lead the culture wars, they must control all aspects of creative output, media, tv, movies, architecture and art and why they constantly bemoan the classics. They know they cant make anything superior.

  7. bymitch November 16, 2020 at 7:01 pm #

    According to earlier project promo’s, by the architects, the building sported a very slick, shiny golden structure.
    The journey from that concept, to barbecued churro, is more intriguing than the final product, in my opinion.
    Could it be that the development of the upside-down arches, in gold, was just too literal a comment on the fate of corporate America, and dumping on Spanish culture was more de rigueur?
    Or was it just one of those out-of-the-blue fetishes for puffy concrete?
    The mind boggles.

  8. JackStraw November 19, 2020 at 10:55 am #

    Take a moment and review the the architect’s portfolio.

    https://www.adjaye.com/

    It’s a horrifyingly ugly collection of dehumanized garbage, but I give honorable mention to the Moscow School of Management building. That one is on a whole new level.

    The Mole House is cutting edge derelicte.

  9. lateStarter November 23, 2020 at 11:41 am #

    Good catch JackStraw! I have to agree that the Moscow School of Management is in a class of its own.

  10. Ishabaka November 26, 2020 at 6:00 am #

    I count 17-18 buildings in the New York photo – all awful. Which one is the Eyesore of the Month?

  11. erik November 27, 2020 at 10:00 am #

    And the great thing about this month’s eyesore is you’ve got a 2 for one special, with the execrable “Freedom Tower” hovering in the background.

  12. davidjohn December 1, 2020 at 2:29 am #

    I had to make some files public to be downloaded so that is the reason I used the following website de.altoprotectpdf.com. It has allowed me to put a password on all of the files very easily.

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