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Featured Eyesore of the Month

June 2021

James Howard Kunstler : June 3, 2021 2:34 pm : Eyesore of the Month

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Behold, the “Little Island” mini-park in the Hudson River, occupying the former site of Pier 54, now demolished, where survivors of the Titanic landed in 1912. This is the second big public art statement installed around the lower Manhattan Meatpacking District — the first was the High Line, a linear above street-grade trail wending between blocks on the foundation of an old elevated railroad trestle that used to service the industries that no longer exist there. The High Line was built before Covid-19 destroyed New York City’s latest business model (as the counting-house for the asset-stripping of Flyover America). Both works are interesting civic decor stunts that actually tell interesting stories far different than what you see superficially.

The main message of both is that the city streets themselves are beyond hopeless as far as creating rewarding urban space for humans. Just fuggeddabowt it. This is, or course, a complete refutation of urban design per se. Rather, in these constructions “nature” is fetishized as something apart from the fabric of the city, something only experienced via formal programming. Here’s that nature you ordered. Now form a line…!

Another message is that the USA’s foremost harbor is not expected to function as a seaport anymore, ever. Instead, it will be the site of heroic conceptual artworks aggrandizing the arty classes of society. Note to readers: the time will come — and probably not that far into the future — when the region will need a working waterfront along the Hudson River. I know that’s hard to believe but that’s where reality is taking us. Another note to readers: the arty classes of today will go extinct in the resource-and-capital scarcity-constrained decades ahead. All the financial infrastructure that currently supports this class of pretentious idlers — the foundations, the government hand-outs, the grad schools, the endlessly-replicating museums — will be history and only those people skilled in the practical arts will earn a livelihood.  You get a sense of the current reigning twee sensibility in this excerpt from Michael Kimmelman’s review of Little Island in The New York Times:

Rising from the Hudson River, Little Island preens atop a bouquet of tulip-shaped columns, begging to be posted on Instagram. Outside, it’s eye candy. Inside, a charmer, with killer views.

Mega-mogul Barry Diller’s $260 million, 2.4-acre pet project and civic mitzvah, near 13th Street in Hudson River Park, is the architectural equivalent of a kitchen sink sundae, with a little bit of everything. Who knows what it will feel like when crowds arrive this weekend. I suspect they will be enormous.”

We’re informed further down that Little Island has a whole staff of arts programmers for the two performance spaces on it: a 687-seat amphitheater and a little stage in a glade of trees. I hope Barry Diller set up a trust to keep paying for all that because New York City is on its way to going stone broke, with office towers running at 20 percent occupancy and gainfully employed taxpayers fleeing to the work-from-home burbs (another tragic development, by the way). New York could barely maintain its subway system pre-Covid, when financialization was funneling all those stripped assets to Wall Street.  Prediction: within two years Little Island will be an especially choice encampment site for the homeless to pitch their tents. Wait for it….

Little Island was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, same guy who designed The Vessel, featured as the October 2016 Eyesore of the Month

Thanks to Franklin Vaugn for this month’s nomination.


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17 Comments »

June 2021

James Howard Kunstler : June 3, 2021 2:34 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page And thanks to all my Patrons for your support! Behold, the “Little Island” mini-park in the Hudson River, occupying the former site of Pier 54, now demolished, where survivors of the Titanic landed in 1912. This is the second big public art statement installed around the lower Manhattan more »

May 2021

James Howard Kunstler : May 4, 2021 10:30 am : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page And thanks to all my Patrons for your support!   Behold the CopenHill Energy Plant and Urban Recreation Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, Arch-Daily’s “Building-of-the-Year,” designed by the super-hot Bjarke Ingels Group… embodying all the tragic contradictions of the contemporary condition: the desperate desire to connect to “nature” (and to have more »

April 2021

James Howard Kunstler : April 1, 2021 2:42 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page And thanks to all my Patrons for your support!   Behold: Blockchain City, Nevada, proposed for a wasteland outside Reno. Styling itself as a new “cryptocurrency-powered smart city,” the project un-smartly (i.e. stupidly)  incorporates every techno-narcissistic trope possible: megastructures, “green” everything in the desert, a continuation of car-dependency, more »

March 2021

James Howard Kunstler : March 2, 2021 3:28 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page And thanks to all my Patrons for your support! Behold the Helix,  Amazon’s new East Coast headquarters proposed for Arlington, Virginia, across the river from that great National Swamp of grift and favors known as the District of Columbia. You know what’s going on here, right? Trick question more »

February 2021

James Howard Kunstler : February 1, 2021 5:18 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page   Behold, a proposal to redevelop the block around St. Lucy’s Church, Jersey City, NJ.  Yet another exercise in misunderstanding the future counterposes a human-scaled ensemble of traditional buildings squashed underneath a despotic death Borg of computer-assisted banality designed by the firm MVMK (Minervini Vandermark Melia Kelly). You more »

January 2021

James Howard Kunstler : January 5, 2021 10:47 am : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page And thanks to all my Patrons for your support!   Behold, the fabulous sculpture called “Jubilee!” installed next to the Home Suites 2 by Hilton (a hotel, if you’re wondering) at the Sea Shells Collections Shopping Center in Gulf Breeze Florida . It is supposed to represent three more »

December 2020

James Howard Kunstler : December 2, 2020 5:05 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page Behold: the proposal for a 160-story, 2418-foot tall “carbon neutral” skyscraper from the French architecture firm Rescubika on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. It incorporates 36 wind turbines, 8,300 shrubs, 1,600 trees, 83,000 square feet of plant walls, and nearly 23,000 square feet of solar panels. The project is more »

November 2020

James Howard Kunstler : November 4, 2020 11:34 am : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page 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 more »

October 2020

James Howard Kunstler : October 2, 2020 2:44 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page Behold: the New Princeton University Art Museum!  Or is that the box that it came in??? Yeah, I know, an old gag, but it still works. What you get here is just another exercise in fake originality. How many of these floating boxes are there in the world? more »

September 2020

James Howard Kunstler : September 2, 2020 3:00 pm : Eyesore of the Month
Support this blog by visiting Jim’s Patreon Page Behold, the second coming of St. Thomas Parish Church Washington, DC (1517 18th Street NW, off Dupont Circle). Kind of looks like the musical instrument that the space aliens flew down to Earth in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Spielberg, 1977) to play the dumb-ass tune that more »
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