Monday, November 14, 2005

Another Cause I can Support

In December 2003, New York Times architecture critic Herbert Muschamp wrote, “The refusal of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold hearings on the future of 2 Columbus Circle is a shocking dereliction of public duty. Unacceptable in itself, this abdication also raises the scary question of what other buildings the commission might choose to overlook in the future.”

According to the National Trust-

Created by architect Edward Durell Stone, who also designed Washington's famed Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 Columbus Circle is a nationally recognized - albeit controversial - icon of the Modern Movement. Sporting a marble skin, porthole windows and a street-level arcade that critics have likened to a row of lollipops, the unorthodox building is radically different from the glass-and-steel boxes typical of its era.

Now it is slated to be sold and renovated as a permanent home for the Museum of Arts and Design. That's the good news; the bad news is that the design proposed for the new use would strip 2 Columbus Circle of its architectural integrity, and since it is not protected by New York's preservation ordinance, these changes could be made without any kind of preservation review. This means that unless the new owner can be persuaded of the building's significance, sweeping architectural changes could rob 2 Columbus Circle of its distinctive character and rob America of an engagingly quirky icon of the recent past.

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