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Back to 2007 Culture Awards

The Year in Architecture

Green roofs sprouted in the South Bronx, the Glass House opened wide, bus shelters got chic, Frank Gehry finally built something in New York, Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs kissed and made up (after a fashion), and a gauzy aluminum museum rose shimmering over the Bowery.


The New Museum of Contemporary Art  

1. BEST NEW BUILDING
The New Museum of Contemporary Art
The sexy, defiant New Museum, wrapped in peekaboo aluminum, seems at first glance to be levitating over the Bowery. Sanaa’s silvered boxes are a place for art to be ungainly, rude, and uncommercial and contribute to the Bowery’s legacy of inspired idiosyncrasy. It’s the rare building that looks more magical in reality than in renderings, with texture and a purpose: tough, respectful, flexible, and totally new.

2. BEST NEW AFFORDABLE HOUSING
Via Verde
Forty years ago, affordable housing meant towers in a park. Via Verde, a 202-unit project soon to rise in the Melrose section of the Bronx, puts the park on top and the buildings underneath. A ribbon of rooftop greenery climbs from townhouses to the top of an eighteen-story tower, growing vegetables and catching rainwater. Elegantly designed by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw, it will shelter the needy while protecting the planet.

3. BEST FRENCH ARCHITECTURAL INVASION
Jean Nouvel
It’s the high-end-condo market that drives our architecture these days, and pedigreed Europeans are paying attention. The latest is Jean Nouvel, whose red-and-blue-glass pageant winner at 40 Mercer Street opened this year. Construction is also beginning on 100 Eleventh Avenue, its curve encrusted with windows like a wedge of city seen by Cézanne. But the stopper of all shows will be 53 West 53rd, the sky-impaler that will rise 75 stories above MoMA and give midtown a mighty new flourish.

4. MOST HOPEFUL VISION
Governors Island and the Battery Maritime Building
Governors Island has been choice real estate since the Dutch arrived. If only the city could figure out what to do with it: Last spring, we saw five proposals for a wonderland of boardwalks, bike paths, climbing rocks, and heated baths. The plan for the gorgeously restored Beaux-Arts Battery Maritime Building, the island’s ferry terminal, has raised eyebrows for the proposed glass hotel on top, but the building desperately needs a purpose. To let such assets molder would be spectacularly dumb.

5. MOST ALLURING BAD-WEATHER BEACON
Frank Gehry’s IAC Headquarters
Until this year, driving up the clotted West Side Highway on a rainy evening did not make you feel good about the world. But then the wrapping came off Frank Gehry’s headquarters for InterActiveCorp. The folded forms seem to liquefy in the humid air and dissipate into droplets. But only in wretched weather: In bright light, it loses most of that mystery. Should IAC ever move on, the building could be another 2 Columbus Circle: an awkward white folly looking for a use.


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