27. Urban Glass House
300 Spring Street
Philip Johnson’s finale isn’t his best work, but it’s still far better than you might expect directly across from a Holland Tunnel ventilation shaft. Transparency in an urban setting is double-edged, so the building’s windows are darkened, giving it the appearance of a high-end audio component. The area’s quick transition to fine living has made for a competitive climate in residential architecture. Generally a pleasing exchange.
28. 40 Mercer Street
At Grand Street
This is the best sort of metamorphosis: from a parking lot to a work of genuine architecture by Jean Nouvel. The frame updates Soho’s cast-iron context, and the red- and blue-tinted windows cast a slightly sacramental glow.
29. Westin Hotel
270 West 43rd Street
Rising on a site that desperately needed a jolt of personality, Arquitectonica’s hotel is what the French might call a jolie-laide, an ugly beauty—a dandy wearing too many plaids— and a nod to the theater district’s tradition of outlandishness. When the time comes to tear it down, watch the preservationists mobilize to hold on to some old-time eccentricity.