Category Archives: Architecture

Introduction to the 1st Annual Jane Jacobs Award at the Met Housing Council

Jane Jacobs wrote 12 wide-ranging, brilliant books. In them she wove together ideas about cities, city life, politics, economics, and social and cultural issues, so it’s hard to succinctly summarize her contributions to tonight’s topic of affordable housing in New … Continue reading

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The Best Building At Columbia

THIS IS a difficult building to photograph, and a Northern Italian Renaissanc church with a loosely Byzantine interior wouldn’t normally be my favorite. But it is so well done. The perfect proportions, the details in the entrance in antis, the … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Classical, Craft, divine, Good Kind, Materials, New York | Leave a comment

Occupy Wall Street, Main Street, Broad Street

LIKE MOST NEW YORKERS, I was happy to see Occupy Wall Street arise.* We need more of that spirit in the neighborhood and preservation battles against the Lords of Real Estate that are welling up all across the city. When I … Continue reading

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The Good Kind: Notre Dame du Haut (Ronchamp)

NOTRE DAME DU HAUT is a work of beauty and genius. To fully appreciate that you must visit the pilgrimage chapel in the northeast corner of France. Le Corbusier put aside his machine aesthetic and principles of mechanical standardization and embraced … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, divine, Good Kind, Local | 2 Comments

Inexpressive Interiors – The Other Kind

MANY ARCHITECTURE SCHOOLS in the northeast have become more like art schools than architecture schools. They emphasize conceptual “autonomous” architecture and personal expression, and neglect materials, construction, composition, context, placemaking… the list goes on and on. When I was on … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, The Other Kind | 1 Comment

Monument of the Day

Firemen’s Memorial, Harold Van Buren Magonigle and Attilio Piccirilli, Riverside Drive at 100th Street, 1913. THE FIRST YEAR AFTER 9/11, New York firemen started an unofficial memorial service at the Firemen’s Memorial on Riverside Drive. Small at first, it has grown … Continue reading

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Occupy Main Street (from the Berkshire Record)

Download the PDF Occupy Main Street (@ blog.massengale.com) The MassDOT Chainsaw Massacre MassDOT Mistake: How Not To Rebuild Main Street Street Design in the Berkshire Record The Berkshire Record

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Current, New England, Pedestrian, Street Design, Urbanism | 2 Comments

The Biggest Cornices in New York

Above & Below: Astor Court, 209 West 89th St, Charles Platt, 1915. Below: United States Rubber Building, 1790 Broadway, Carrère & Hastings, 1912. The Residential and Commercial Champions. Leave suggestions in the comments if you have alternative candidates.

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Urban Design: The Good Kind & the Other Kind

WE ALL UNDERSTAND why so many normal, rational New Yorkers can act like NIMBYs—because we’ve all seen alien, intrusive development in New York like Billionaire Row and Atlantic Yards. Recent developments at the American Museum of Natural History brought this … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Classical, Culture, Current, Egotecture, Good Kind, New Urbanism, New York, The Other Kind, Urbanism | Leave a comment

Leon Wieseltier on Modern Cliches

IF you apply for a grant today and want to be successful, you’d better use the words “innovate” and “innovative” in your proposal. In art and architecture, words like “challenging,” “transgressive,” and “disruptive” are among the most used. So I … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Craft, Culture, Current, Egotecture, Global, New York, Quote of the Day, The Other Kind, Urbanism | Tagged | 1 Comment

Form Follows Fashion

WE ALL UNDERSTAND that in architecture Modernism has promoted the expression of industrial materials. For one hundred years, its proponents have declared that Modernism is not a style but a rational, modern way of building. Last week, I happened to … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Classical, Culture, Current, The Other Kind | 1 Comment

We Moved

To the Broadway Chambers @ 277 Broadway, on the corner of Chambers Street—Cass Gilbert’s first building in New York City. Here’s the view from my desk:

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The Best Smelling Lobby In New York

YOU CAN FIND some of the best bread and pastries in New York in this Tribeca office building lobby—and in the year 2016, that’s saying a lot. The story is that a New Yorker who’s roamed the world learning how … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Classical, Craft, Culture, Current, Good Kind, New York | 1 Comment

New Rules for the New Year in New York

Any new building in New York City taller than the Empire State Building must be more beautiful than the Empire State Building. Any buildings receiving public subsidy, tax benefits, or increased FAR must be approved by the local Community Board, … Continue reading

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For those who celebrate Christmas

It doesn’t get much better than this: High Perpendicular English Gothic, Renaissance woodwork, a Rubens altarpiece, and this:

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God is in the details

I’m working on a project in Connecticut where the team is proposing a “Slow Zone” in the center of town. An engineer on a project is a little worried about some of the details I’ve proposed. He wrote, “I think we … Continue reading

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Bicycle, Craft, Culture, Current, Good Kind, Materials, Pedestrian, Slow Streets, Street Design, Urbanism, Walkability | Leave a comment

V&V Redux: The Most Beautiful City of the Twentieth Century

Santa Fe, New Mexico is the most beautiful city of the 20th century. This simple statement requires some explanation.

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Posted in Architecture, Beauty, Culture, Good Kind, Local, Materials, Pedestrian, Urbanism, Veritas et Venustas | 1 Comment