2 Columbus Circle 'Shame Cam'
November 16, 2005 9:48 AM   Subscribe

Shame Cam - 2 Columbus Circle.
posted by xowie (47 comments total)

 
Sweet.."the world's greatest urinal!".
posted by spicynuts at 9:55 AM on November 16, 2005


I'm pretty dissapointed in the remodeling efforts surrounding the building, and was shocked to hear so much hatred for its appearance. It's always been one of my favorite NYC buildings. Guess I'm just a Philistine.

That said, if they really wanted a webcam at Columbus Circle that pointed to shameful actions, they'd do just as well to set one up in the Time Warner Center. That place is disgusting. I've never seen so many Botoxed faces and Louis Vuitton handbags in my life.
posted by saladin at 9:58 AM on November 16, 2005


Quit whining. New Yorkers just re-elected their mayor by a large margin. This is what the mayor wants, this is what you get. Why do you hate democracy?
posted by three blind mice at 10:00 AM on November 16, 2005


It must be a real joy to work in the tombs within devoid of any of that distracting natural light for the duration of you workday. It's a real shame they don't build more urban brutalist buildings these days.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:05 AM on November 16, 2005


It's been very difficult to tear down distinctive buildings since the landmark commission got going in the early 1960's. That just shows how low many experts' opinion of this building is.

I have no great love for it, but I'm worried about what will go up in its place. Is an ugly building better than a nondescript one?
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:07 AM on November 16, 2005


I walk by 2 Columbus Circle all the time, and I used to really hate it. At first I thought it was a ConEd substation or something, it looks so industrial, and it has so few windows I couldn't imagine people living/working in there. But as I've read and thought more about it in the past couple of weeks, I've started to appreciate it a little more. QD poses a good question: is an ugly building better than a nondescript one? There are so many boring glass and steel buildings in NYC, but when you see 2 Columbus Circle, you know it. I was watching the 1973 Vietnam War documentary "Hearts and Minds" (incredible film) the other day, and at the very end there's a parade scene. You have no indication where the parade is, until you look in the background and see the unmistakeable facade of 2 Columbus Circle, and you know it's Central Park West looking south. Oh well...
posted by banishedimmortal at 10:16 AM on November 16, 2005


If, like me, you don't know what this building looks like, here are a few nice photos.
posted by blendor at 10:18 AM on November 16, 2005


More pictures. It actually looks good in some of them. For the last 10 years or so, it's been surrounded by a chain link fence which made it quite a blight from street level.

The Wired New York forum has some (old) renders of what they're doing to it. It's not being torn down but the distinctive facade is being replaced.

(BTW, they're also finally starting to tear down the Deutsche Bank Building at the WTC site.)
posted by smackfu at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2005


It looks like a cross betweem a jail cell and a telephone booth. On the other hand, it's "different"....
posted by you just lost the game at 10:20 AM on November 16, 2005


(via curbed?)
posted by shoepal at 10:21 AM on November 16, 2005


Oops, that first photo link was supposed to be to here
posted by smackfu at 10:22 AM on November 16, 2005


As someone who was actually involved in this project, after all the legal battles I'm very suprised that it is actually going to be built. In my opinion the building either needed to be perfectly restored (at least the exterior) or torn down entirely, neither of which seemed to be viable options for the city or the museum. That said, it's worth taking a look at what the new architect, Allied Works, is proposing.
posted by sharkitect at 10:23 AM on November 16, 2005


I hated it from the time I saw the first published elevations. But now, suddenly, I recall how awful a lot of the old art deco stuff, which looks great now, looked back in the fifties. and now, well who knows? Maybe its beautiful.
posted by donfactor at 10:27 AM on November 16, 2005


Via the New York Times, if you must know.
posted by xowie at 10:32 AM on November 16, 2005


I actually thought this post was going to be about 25 Columbus Circle. The intersection has been such a problem for so many decades -- before TWC was built, there was a vacant convention center on part of the site.

I tend to agree that the Stone building was simply unusable, and had proven itself so even without the deterioration (I didn't see the worst of it in person). It has such a visible location I'm not surprised the "elite" are ready for any effective renovation proposal. It was a very strange design to begin with, and it's somewhat odd that it's become beloved. I wonder if people will say the same of TWC, which faced determined opposition over its design and shadow. After all, WTC became part of the landscape, and it was hated in the beginning, too.
posted by dhartung at 10:34 AM on November 16, 2005


I actually prefer the new one - it comments on the old design and adds to it without destroying it. I understand the need to preserve some things, but this is New York. We build things here.

Sometimes it seems like you can't erect a lamppost in this town without an angry mob from the community board getting in your face.
posted by fungible at 10:37 AM on November 16, 2005


I'm not a particular fan of the building. If they found someone that's willing to take it, even though they're altering it, what's the big deal. Cities grow and change. So do buildings.
posted by bshort at 10:39 AM on November 16, 2005


I'm a big fan of both modernism and of historical preservation but this is(was) a pretty gosh darn ugly building.
posted by octothorpe at 10:41 AM on November 16, 2005


Closeups of the lollipop-shaped columns. What was Edward Stone thinking?
posted by QuietDesperation at 10:41 AM on November 16, 2005


Columbus Circle has never lived up to its potential, for whatever reason, and that overgrown toilet fixture certainly hasn't helped. Personally, I'd prefer a nondescript building, but now that NYC seems to be allowing actual design (the Rose Planetarium was very encouraging) I have hopes that something interesting might be built.
posted by languagehat at 10:41 AM on November 16, 2005


When someone else builds a building, why should anyone think they have some right to force that person to keep it.

Someone OWNS it, its theirs to do what they want with. Cities are alive, buildings constantly being built and raised and remodeled. If you like it, enjoy it while its there. I don't think its right for the owner to have to pay any attention to people who don't want it torn down because they like it, or the architect who built it.

Yes there should be some limits to preserve extremely old buildings, and rules about what can be built in the first place.. but preserving every funny looking building forever just because people are used to it is silly.

Historic buildings should be buildings where the owner chooses to protect the building and keep it the same in exchange for grant money to help pay for upkeep. Not enforced on someone who isn't interested. Its not the statue of liberty here, its just a(n ugly) building.
posted by rubin at 10:43 AM on November 16, 2005


The problem to my mind with this building is that on it's own it's a nice design and interesting, and if it were in a field somewhere it would be lovely, but surrounded by all the other completely utilitarian and nondescript buildings that are jammed up on top of it and around it, it loses all sense of style and sticks out like a wart. The context for that building in that area is all wrong.
posted by spicynuts at 10:45 AM on November 16, 2005


It looks like a big trash can.
posted by fenriq at 10:48 AM on November 16, 2005


About the only thing the original design has going for it, is that it's certainly distinctive. The new one doesn't have that same brutish look to it, and looks like it could be built anywhere.

HOWEVER

A building with little natural lighting? Fine for a modernist musuem or a warehouse, but just about nothing else. Do the people who think this building should be restored to it's original design actually want to work in this building?

Not every building by a famous architect needs to be preserved. This building fails as a usable space, and should be redesigned/removed.
posted by inthe80s at 10:56 AM on November 16, 2005


Hey, if I can get a better view of the Hearst Tower, then tear it down.
posted by Plutor at 10:57 AM on November 16, 2005


This building has a lot of "pug appeal," i.e., "it's so ugly that it's cute."

Too bad I never thought that pugs were particularly cute.
posted by afroblanca at 10:58 AM on November 16, 2005


It's not a context issue, the context could be far better if it weren't for this building and it's neighbors.

If you look through the pictures smackfu linked, you see a postcard of the circle prior to construction of these buildings you see transit lanes, places for pedestrians, green space... Now all you see is cars, concrete and stark facades. They've even taken it a step further and put up fencing to keep people out of the ground level spaces. This building and its neighbors are a shame. You want that area back, tear that monstrosity down and put in something with mixed use and especially with something at street level and space for humans.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:01 AM on November 16, 2005


Can we get a flash mob of NYC Mefites in front of that thing or something?
posted by Cyrano at 11:18 AM on November 16, 2005


I work two blocks a way, I'll hit up that flash mob. But wait, are we there to get them to tear it down or keep it up? I dig the building, and think it has potential as an art/film space. I know the facade has been used for projections (of advertisements at least), but a rotating exhibition of projected works (let's say some Brakhage Films and maybe a Jenny Holzer projection, etc) on the building would really spice up my lunch breaks.
posted by jrb223 at 11:32 AM on November 16, 2005



It's not a context issue, the context could be far better if it weren't for this building and it's neighbors.


How is this any different from what I said? I said that taken alone the building is interesting and unique but that surrounded by all the other trash it looks like a sore thumb. I was making no comment about what should be done with that block or that neighborhood but specifically that the area is a bad context for judging the aesthetics of that building. Tear it down and put up a park for all I care, I'm talking about the design of the building only.
posted by spicynuts at 11:38 AM on November 16, 2005


I don't think its right for the owner to have to pay any attention to people who don't want it torn down because they like it, or the architect who built it. A lot of people disagree with you, rubin, and not just Prince Charles. In The City Observed (a wonderful guide to NY's architecture) Paul Goldberger noted that in the period when New York's architecture became great, a lot of attention was paid to how a building fit in to the environment -- cornice lines matched, setbacks observed, and efforts were made to make a building harmonize with the surroundings. Those buildings, I recall, had owners too.

BTW, apropos of nothing, Goldberg points out in TCO that New York's greatest architectural landmarks are not buildings, but a bridge and a park.
posted by QuietDesperation at 11:42 AM on November 16, 2005


Meh. The emperor has no clothes; that is one fugly building. And what Pollomacho said; sunlight is good.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:49 AM on November 16, 2005


If you took the building and put it anywhere, a field, a small town, any other block, it would still have the same ground level problems and a lack of natural lighting on the interior. It is a bad building no matter the context, additionally it adds to the problems found in its present context.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2005


Pollomacho writes "It must be a real joy to work in the tombs within devoid of any of that distracting natural light for the duration of you workday"

Isn't it home to a museum/art gallery? You usually don't want a lot of UV rich natural light in a museum.
posted by Mitheral at 11:51 AM on November 16, 2005


QuietDesperation writes "Goldberg points out in TCO that New York's greatest architectural landmarks are not buildings, but a bridge and a park"

Well ya now that they let someone take down the trade centre towers.

Seriously though what about the Empire State building or the Chysler building? I have no idea what central park looks like but I could draw the Chrysler building.
posted by Mitheral at 11:56 AM on November 16, 2005


Maybe someone could plant a barrel-rolling gorrila at the top of that scaffolding.
posted by teg at 12:19 PM on November 16, 2005


I really do not like 2 Columbus Circle, the fences are also prime spots for the homeless to take over. It stinks when you walk by it. I am glad someone is doing something about it.

This reminds me of the problem in Cleveland, some famous architect built a crappy new wing for their museum, it's so ugly that hardly anyone likes it. They can't tear it down because the person who designed it is famous, so they have to now build another new wing to make the crappy wing look a bit better and flow well with the really nicely done original building.

As I said, I'll be happy when this building is reopened, the street level was/is a real mess.
posted by riffola at 12:25 PM on November 16, 2005


looks pretty ugly to me.
posted by jcruelty at 1:04 PM on November 16, 2005


i think it's really beautiful.
posted by ori at 2:10 PM on November 16, 2005


(At night, there's neither ugly nor pretty to see on that webcam.)
posted by nobody at 2:18 PM on November 16, 2005


I really do not like 2 Columbus Circle, the fences are also prime spots for the homeless to take over. It stinks when you walk by it. I am glad someone is doing something about it.
Yeah, curse those homeless devils! Go live in one of our fine city's shelters, you filthy rogues!
posted by Edible Energy at 3:17 PM on November 16, 2005


What did you expect "the world's greatest urinal to smell like?

"Adolph Loos and I, he in reality, I verbally, have nothing else to do but to show that there is a difference between an urn and a chamber pot and that this difference is necessary because it guarantees the game of culture. The others, on the other hand, the defenders of 'positive' values, divide themselves between those who take an urn for a chamber pot and those who take the chamber pot for an urn."
posted by xod at 4:04 PM on November 16, 2005


Daaaamn. That's one big-ass pile of concrete shit. Does anyone have any pictures from inside?

"Hey Bob, good news! You're getting a promotion, and being moved to the corner office!"
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:37 PM on November 16, 2005


I know the facade has been used for projections (of advertisements at least)

I don't recall it really being used that way, although I think they tried showing films on it once back in the 80s. Mostly, though, NBC faked projections of its Must-See TV stars on the building.

The world's largest movie screen does not a great building make.

I kinda hope they save some of the lollipops though. It would be cool to see the facade parts re-used in a creative fashion -- public art like The Gates, or something. Or Stone's original conception of Columbus Circle itself which according to Tom Wolfe would have used the Penn Station columns to create an amphitheater effect around a restored actual circle.
posted by dhartung at 4:40 PM on November 16, 2005


I like it. I mean, I would hate to work or live inside it, but I like the way it looks.
posted by dg at 8:31 PM on November 16, 2005


Mr. Tucker and I love sitting by the fountains in the new Columbus Circle, but have always thought that 2 Columbus Circle is one of the ugliest buildings ever built.
posted by MotherTucker at 9:59 AM on November 17, 2005


Edible Energy, the problem is the homeless then start harassing kids from NYIT.
posted by riffola at 11:19 AM on November 17, 2005


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