Manhattan’s skyline is to architecture what a hothouse is to new, exotic flowers: an incubator for the latest trends and fashions.
That’s not just because Manhattan is such a vanguard; it’s also because there’s just so much activity occurring, even in a recession.
Getting re-acquainted with the City this week, the most prominent trend, at least architecturally, is the spread of what I’ll call “the Bilbao effect”: buildings that look like the Frank Gehry-designed Bilbao (Spain) Guggenheim and the Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota, featuring bizarre, irregular shapes and shiny, metal-clad skins.
To me, at least, the effect suggests nothing so much as a building that suffered from too much Sun and literally started to melt.
The Beekman Tower
Just this week, I’ve seen perhaps half of dozen buildings in Manhattan — small, tall, squat, sleek — that feature the effect.
But the most arresting, by far, is the Beekman Tower, towering 75 stories and almost 900 feet over lower Manhattan and nearby City Hall, practically at the base of The Brooklyn Bridge.
The project, a combined hotel-condo, has a stone facade (vs. metal), but the upper floors display the classic irregular shapes and lines of other Frank Gehry-designed buildings.
Just nearing completion, I couldn’t get in, but I did note one incongruity sure to be a headache for future residents and guests: Beekman is one of those narrow, centuries-old streets barely wide enough for horses.