December 10, 2019
NYC’S BEST (AND WORST) ARCHITECTURE OF 2019: HUDSON YARDS, TWA HOTEL, AND MORE
The good, the bad, and the Vessel
By Amy Plitt - Curbed New York
After several ho-hum years in which it seemed like nothing all that interesting happened in the world of New York City architecture, 2019 was very busy: New buildings debuted, long-awaited renovations wrapped up, and an entire neighborhood materialized from nothing on Manhattan’s west side.
Was it a good year? There were certainly some triumphs. Brooklyn gained a massive new oasis in Shirley Chisholm Park, and the final section of the High Line opened just in time for the elevated park’s 10th anniversary. Eero Saarinen’s gorgeous TWA Terminal is once again open to the public, and looking better than ever. MoMA is back, and positively enormous. But there were misfires; you need only look at the gargantuan collection of skyscrapers at Hudson Yards, which has cemented its status as a playground for New York’s new Gilded Age, for proof.
Here now, the best (and some of the worst) of New York’s new architecture—reveals, makeovers, and parks included—of 2019.
For nearly a century (the institution turned 90 in 2019), the Museum of Modern Art has been tinkering with the spaces that it inhabits, and this fall, it unveiled its most ambitious revamp yet. The renovation of its 53rd Street building, overseen by Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Gensler, added more than 40,000 square feet of fresh galleries, and sought to knit together many disparate spaces—the new galleries, the pieces of the original 1939 building designed by Philip Goodwin and Edward Durell Stone, the lobby from Yoshio Taniguchi’s 2004 revamp, Philip Johnson’s sculpture garden—into a cohesive whole.
It is mostly successful, if slightly overwhelming; more of the museum’s collection than ever is now on view, and will rotate out every few months. Give yourself at least a few hours to see everything, or use Curbed architecture critic Alexandra Lange’s curated itineraries as your guide.
Speaking of the new MoMA, the skyscraper adjacent to the museum, Jean Nouvel’s 53 West 53, has just about wrapped up, and it’s one of the rare supertall towers that actually looks as good as—if not better than—its initial renderings. The structure itself is a slender, pointy tower rising from a thicker base, and unlike some of its Billionaires’ Row brethren, there’s actual visual interest thanks to the building’s distinctive crisscross facade. It also manages not to overwhelm the museum building next door—not an easy feat for a nearly 1,000-foot tower.
Honorable mention: The park formerly known as Diller Island—now dubbed “Little Island,” which easily wins “goofiest name given to a development this year”—is taking shape at Pier 55 in Hudson River Park. We’re reserving final judgment until Thomas Heatherwick’s offshore park is complete, but watching its tulip-shaped concrete pods come together has certainly been interesting.