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Justin Davidson’s Want-to-Sees

What our critic is most eager for this fall.

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The new Cooper Union academic building.   

41 Cooper Square
Thom Mayne of Morphosis designed this crinkly metal box (above) to coax student engineers to interact with artists and architects, and all of them to feel part of a neighborhood. But when the school year starts, how smoothly will the building make the instant but sometimes treacherous transition from pristine sculpture to usable architecture? Opens Sept. 15

Poets House
Poets House and its ever-burgeoning library are leaving its Soho loft for rent-free digs in Battery Park City. The new space, by architect Louise Braverman, boasts an anthology of environmental virtues, including sustainable beech floorboards and insulation made of old blue jeans. The project may benefit Battery Park City as much as it does verse: Poetry’s new haven may give a button-down neighborhood some genuine bohemian cred. Opens Sept. 25

The Atrium at Lincoln Center
The formerly forlorn Harmony Atrium on Broadway emerges from its chrysalis of scaffolding as Lincoln Center’s answer to TKTS: a discount box office/info center/hangout space, designed by the husband-and-wife team of Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The key ingredient is light, flowing through egg-shaped oculi in the ceiling, bouncing off the reflective stone floor, and tinged by two green walls of ferns and bromeliads. Opens Nov. 12

United States Mission to the U.N.
Well before 9/11, the architects at Gwathmey Siegel were at work on an impregnable Manhattan high-rise for the federal government: a 21st-century equivalent of the castle tower, and a concrete—literally, concrete—reminder of what we have to fear. But for Charles Gwathmey, who died earlier this month, the brutalist aesthetic was a tool, not a credo, and as the project takes shape this fall, it could yield a cool, sleek sort of brawn.

166 Perry St.
This small building, right behind—and in sympathy with—Richard Meier’s watershed glass condos, doesn’t quite do justice to the famously phantasmagoric imagination of its architects, the husband-and-wife team of Hani Rashid and Lise Anne Couture, a.k.a. Asymptote. But while many of the firm’s more visionary designs are still at the fantasy stage, this one’s actually nearing completion.

“Eero Saarinen: Shaping the Future”
No mid-century prophet of architecture fleshed out a fantasy about the future more vividly than Eero Saarinen. Finally, the author of the TWA Terminal’s concupiscent curves, the imperial simplicity of St. Louis’s Gateway Arch, and the glowering muscularity of CBS ’s “Black Rock” Building gets his 21-gun salute in an exhaustive retrospective. Opens Nov. 10 at the Museum of the City of New York.


Related:

Fall Preview 2009

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