The Influentials: Architecture & Design
André Balazs and
Hoteliers turned developers
Together, they polished downtown to a lustrous sheen. Their hotels became blueprints for modern luxe living (when Rupert Murdoch decided to relocate downtown, he hired Balazs’s Mercer Hotel designer), and both are expanding in every direction. Balazs is building two new hotels on the High Line, plus a ground-up condo way downtown (William and Beaver Streets), the next refuge for hipster families. Schrager has 40 Bond, the Herzog & de Meuron project that out-Sohos Soho, plus the even more precious Gramercy Park Hotel and residences. The Lewis and Clark of high-bourgeois style.
One word: glass. Thanks to Meier’s chic, glassy towers at 173 and 176 Perry Street, no developer can get enough of it. Good or bad, up and down the waterfronts, through midtown, and into the boroughs, the city is turning into a crystal canyon.
Co-president, the Durst Organization
If New York finally goes green, it will be because of one building: One Bryant Park, developed by Durst and designed by architects Cook + Fox, is shaped like a set of sails and equipped with its own natural-gas power plant, waterless urinals, and air-conditioning on ice. Durst became a sustainable pioneer when he developed the greenish 4 Times Square in 1999, but he’s deepening his commitment with the new Bank of America building, which is expected to earn the highest possible environmental rating when it’s finished in 2008.
Creative director of architectural visualizations, Dbox
In the past few years, architecture has become the sexiest of arts. Keith Bomely and his colleagues at Dbox are its pornographers. Passion for the city’s new construction is inspired not by an actual building, or even an old-fashioned 3-D model, but a rendering. And in all likelihood, Dbox (whose clients include Richard Meier, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and Sir Norman Foster) made that rendering. The multimedia firm is the real architect of our real-estate dreams, enticing buyers, wooing developers, and convincing critics that some building five years out is worthy of our skyline.
Whether you think his metaphorical shapes—birds, torsos, eyes—are gimmicky or inspired, there is no denying that Calatrava is having a major impact on the city’s skyline—and its infrastructure. Even if the South Street tower of cubes never gets built, it will expand the idea of what’s possible to build in New York. And we will always have the WTC Transportation Hub—the only good architecture, so far, at ground zero—and perhaps the elegant, etiolated tram to Governors Island.
Robert A.M. Stern
Dean, Yale School of Architecture
There will never be another Philip Johnson, but the upper echelons of the architecture world still like a club. Lately, the best approximation has been the Yale School of Architecture, transformed by Stern into a place where Frank Gehry, Peter Eisenman, and Will Bruder teach alongside younger stars like Greg Lynn and Jeanne Gang. Cheerfully offering martinis, and successful enough not to care that few of his guests like his architectural work, Stern is a powerhouse host, one who has shifted the city’s architectural center a little bit to the north.
Moss brokered the marriage of the store and the museum—mostly to the benefit of both. One can’t help but think of his white-on-white Greene Street store when checking out the display cases at MoMA. And his whim alone is enough to make a trend. Who sold us on all-white china? Embroidered vases? Laser-cut flowers? The mid-century colonization of Soho—all those look-alike shops, selling the same plastic/clean-lined/streamlined products on adjacent blocks—would have been impossible without Moss’s lead. But he’s still the only one who can elevate the store to a work of art.
Director, Twentieth-Century Design Department, Sotheby’s
The Sotheby’s tastemaker is extending the obsession with twentieth-century design into the 21st by beginning the canonization of younger designers a mere two or three or ten years after they’ve issued an iconic piece. A teddy-bear chair by the Brazilian Campana brothers, for example, sold for $66,000, just a few years after Moss had it new for $18,000. A prototype of Mark Newson’s 1985 Lockheed Lounge—an icon at age 21—is his latest score. For those of us not interested in five- to-seven-figure furniture, the trickle-down effect is mostly in reissues: After pieces like Jean Prouvé’s Cité armchair started selling for $100,000, Vitra reissued his work (that chair for $2,800).