Tear Down These Walls

Manhattan skyline, circa 1940s.
Photo: via New York Architecture Images

In the process of continuing to hate the Museum of Art & Design, Nicolai Ourousoff puts forth his list of the 10 worst buildings in New York City. Not just plain old ugly, but ugly on a urban scale – truly ruining-the-city ugly:

To be included, buildings must either exhibit a total disregard for their surrounding context or destroy a beloved vista. Removing them would make room for the spirit to breathe again and open up new imaginative possibilities.

I have to say its to hard to argue with any of the buildings on his list, but applying his criteria I think he misses a major blight on the city – lower Manhattan. Compare the before, above, with the after, below. What was once a skyline of narrow skyscrapers, permeable from within and without, is now obscured by a wall of banality.

(The tallest building in the 1940s photo is the former City Services Building, for about a week or two the tallest building in the world (and at least for the moment, the AIG building. In the contemporary photo, you can barely see the gorgeous spire of City Services peeking out over the glass trapezoid at the foot of Pine Street.)

Manhattan skyline, circa 2008.
Photo: Virtual Tourist