The New York architect David Rockwell, known for his designs of restaurants (like Nobu), hotels (including several Ws), and, lately, Broadway musicals (his first was Hairspray, with those brilliant moving, dancing posters), has published a coffee-table book called Spectacle. It includes photos, interviews, and information on many of the world’s great spectator events — including, naturally, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He spoke to Daily Intel yesterday.
What makes the parade so interesting to you?
I’ve always been interested in larger-than-life events, and larger-than-life communal events. At the parade, there’s a breaking down of the boundary between viewer and participant. The viewer is as much a part of the parade as the people in it. In your field of vision, you’re seeing other people across the street, and you’re seeing their reactions — were they surprised? These giant balloons transform our view of the city. They make the city seem smaller, literally, by inhabiting the space up in the air. And it’s just an amazing time where New Yorkers get out of their temperature-controlled boxes and have this celebration that spills out into the streets.
Do you go to it each year?
I take Sam and Lola, my kids, and we’ve watched it from all different vantage points. We’ve seen it from Columbus Circle, on the terrace at Jean Georges, which is a particularly great place to watch it, and from 72nd Street across from the park. I also like to go the night before, when they’re blowing up the balloons, when you see these creatures and figures coming out of nowhere.
What’s your favorite part?
The balloons. It’s always fascinating to see the balloons from a distance and then to see them up close — just these behemoth balloons coming down Central Park West. Some of the marching bands are really amazing, too.
Anything we should be looking forward to this year?
Sam is excited about Pikachu reappearing. Evidently his eyes light up. Which reminds me of another inflatable I saw, when I saw Pink Floyd’s Animals tour at Wembly and that giant inflatable pig came out, who had glowing eyes as well. I don’t know if Pikachu’s related to him, though.
Where will you go to watch this year?
Somewhere around 72nd Street, Upper West Side. We’ll stake out a place, park the car, and watch it.
And that location is expected to be clear of falling streetlights?
I think they’re predicting very few falling lights this year.