David Rockwell Likes Driving Fast on Deserted Roads

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Photo: Todd Plitt

Name: David Rockwell
Age: 52
Neighborhood: Tribeca
Occupation: Architect and designer known for some of New York's iconic spaces including W Hotels, Nobu, the Marketplace at the new Jet Blue terminal, and the upcoming Imagination Playground, which breaks ground in downtown Manhattan on Thursday, May 7.

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Stanford White. I grew up in Mexico, and from that vantage point, White was the ultimate New York architect.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
Once a month or so I eat at Nobu Next Door with my wife. We love the rock shrimp with ponzu, cod miso, and tuna sashimi salad. Eating out should be a "mini-vacation" — and this restaurant makes this possible for us.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Sketch, collaborate, connect, brainstorm, conceptualize, problem-solve, mediate, and — when no one's looking — pray.

Would you still live here on a $35,000 salary?
When I moved here from architecture school, I made a lot less than that and had a great time. It would be a little tough now with two kids. But I can't really imagine living anywhere else.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
I just saw Billy Elliot — it was fantastic.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
I have on occasion.

What's your drink?
A margarita — it brings back many memories of growing up in Mexico.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
My family and I spend our weekends in our country house in New Paltz, and I relax by playing chef for them and our friends.

What's your favorite medication?
Aleve. I don't know what I would do without it for my back, especially on or after longer flights. When out of town, room service and a great bottle of wine are a good remedy as well.

What's hanging above your sofa?
For my 40th birthday, my staff made a collage of fabrics that represented our projects and what we had accomplished. It was a wonderfully original present, and all these many years later, it's still there.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Everyone should have one or two things that they indulge in, whether that's a haircut, last-minute opera tickets, or hardcover books. So I'm not one to judge what everyone chooses.

When's bedtime?
Somewhere between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. — always after the kids go to sleep, and then it just depends on how much I need to unwind or how much work needs to be done.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
Times Square is — has always been, and will always be — in a state of constant flux. That's what makes it such a vibrant, supercharged, eternally fascinating public space.

What do you think of Donald Trump?
An amazing original.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
Parking.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Off the top of my head, I can't think of any enemies, let alone mortal ones.

When's the last time you drove a car?
I drive most weekends when my family and I head to New Paltz. I like driving fast on the deserted, curvy, dirt roads. Suddenly the country squire turns into a stock-car racer.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
It is kind of humbling. I think it has created more perspective, a greater appreciation for the past, and a sense that we are not immune to a crisis. Fortunately we are still busy and I'm very grateful for that.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
All of them, and more! I have always been a print junkie, and I loathe the day when the only way I can read a newspaper is by turning on my Kindle.

Where do you go to be alone?
When I designed my loft in Tribeca, I created a rotating chair perched on my roof that provides a 360-degree view of downtown Manhattan. It is the perfect outlet for unwinding and relaxing. Outdoor space is essential for me. It provides a freedom I cannot imagine living without.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
New Yorkers crave excitement, love drama, have the urge to astonish and love being astonished. We wouldn't want it any other way.