Tag Archives: NEW YORK CITY

#172: A DAY AND A HALF IN NEW YORK CITY

July 7, 2023

Lobby of 130 William Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

Having wrapped up client meetings in New York City, I had some time to myself. With nothing on the agenda, no one to meet, not much in particular to do, I put on walking shoes to wander this island of Manhattan (here and here). In a day and a half, I visited 20 new architectural works, walking 44,631 steps. Doing the math, that is nearly 20 miles.

THURSDAY

Midtown 

Royalton Hotel lobby, 44 West 44th Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

11:30 a.m.: I launched from my Times Square hotel, Philippe Starck’s acclaimed Royalton hotel. In the 1980s, Starck renovated this 1898 hotel, his first hotel re-envisioning. This stylish, irreverent renovation propelled Starck onto the global stage of design. Today, some of the ideas have become questionable, e.g., no mirror directly over the bathroom sink?

Left: Steinway Tower, 111 West 57th Street; right: Central Park Tower, 225 West 57th Street (photos by Anthony Poon)

11:52 a.m..: The Steinway Tower displayed optimism and technological/construction advancement, earning the title, the “World’s Skinniest Skyscraper,” designed by SHoP Architects.

12:12 p.m.: Within the famed “Billionaire’s Row” and its collection of “Supertalls,” the Central Park Tower cantilevered (somewhat awkwardly) building masses to grab views of Central Park. Architect AS+GG offered the tallest residential tower in the world, also the 15th tallest building in the world.

American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog, 101 Park Avenue (photo by Anthony Poon)

12:25 p.m.: How could I not stop into this random find, the Museum of the Dog? I toured an extensive collection of dog-related art, from paintings of presidents’ dogs to porcelain dog statuettes, from an exhibit on the history of the leash to the comprehensive library of books on dogs.

550 Madison Avenue (photo by Anthony Poon)

2:02 p.m.: Formerly the AT&T Building completed in 1984, Philip Johnson’s design with its infamous Chippendale crown received both Post-Modernist acclaim and the worst of ridicule. Last year, Norwegian Snohetta offered this new public garden, a wonderful oasis tucked into dense urbanity.

KAWS, 280 Park Avenue (photo by Anthony Poon)

2:29 p.m.: Artist Brian Donnelly, also known as the popular KAWS, blurs fine art and corporate art. Inside this generic corporate lobby, Donnelly installed a work of surrealism and wackiness.

MoMA, 11 West 53rd Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

4:31 p.m.: Yoshio Taniguchi’s 2004 redesign of MoMA mined the complexity of many levels, galleries, security points, and city facades to provide a coherently, exquisitely tailored museum.

Hudson Theatre, 141 West 44th Street (photos by Anthony Poon)

7:09 p.m.: “When in Rome…” as the saying goes. I visited Times Square’s Hudson Theatre to watch the Tony-nominated performance of Jessica Chastain in Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Was the outrage back in 1879 really about a wife merely forging a husband’s signature? Seriously?

FRIDAY

Midtown 

Hearst Tower, West 57th Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

9:14 a.m.: I have always enjoyed a modern addition colliding into a traditional building. At the Hearst Tower, Norman Foster added a 40-story steel and glass structure on top of a 1928 Art Deco, limestone, six-story landmark. “Juxtaposition” is an overused word in architecture, but here it is appropriate.

Upper West Side

Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, 415 Columbus Avenue (photo by Anthony Poon)

9:53 a.m.: Certainly to be the next New York architectural icon and tourist mecca, I arrived at the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation just days before its grand opening. Jeanne Gang authored an oddly beautiful and Grotesque structure inspired by the geologic flow of wind and water—expressed by spray-on structural concrete, akin to that of a swimming pool.

Chelsea

Old Tree, Highline (photo by Anthony Poon)

12:02 p.m.: Plenty has been written about the successes (and some failures) of the Highline. But artist Pamela Rosenkranz’s Old Tree caught my eye, a fuchsia-red sculpture standing within the grays and grit of its city backdrop. She questioned what is artificial vs. natural.

The Vessel, 20 Hudson Yards (photo by Anthony Poon)

2:14 p.m.: Created by Heatherwick Studio, the Vessel heroically rose 16 stories with 150 interconnecting staircases and 80 landings. But after three suicides from the top in one year, the Vessel closed. Today, only the ground level was available to visitors—ending the once-promised Eiffel Tower of Manhattan.

The Shed, 545 West 30th Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

2:36 p.m.: Mere steps from the Vessel sits the kinetic Shed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. It is rare for architecture to move, yet the retractable shell of steel and fluorine-based plastic opens and closes on eight massive wheels 6 feet in diameter, transforming an outdoor space into a theatrical performance space, event hall, or exhibition space.

Little Island, Pier 55 (photo by Anthony Poon)

3:09 p.m.: A quirky visionary project, entitled Little Island, sits on 132 concrete structures called “tulip pots.” Heatherwick Studio, the same architect for The Vessel, created a 2.5-acre artificial island of rich topography and luxurious greenery, accented by a 687-seat amphitheater.

Lower Manhattan

left: “Jenga Tower”; right: “Bean,” 56 Leonard Street (photos by Anthony Poon)

3:31 p.m.: At the street level of the aptly titled “Jenga Tower,” sculptor Anish Kapoor brought an iteration of his famous “bean” from Chicago. Whereas that city was often called “The Second City” to Manhattan, it is here that Manhattan is second place getting a self-derivative art piece.

Perelman Performing Arts Center, 251 Fulton Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

4:35 p.m.: Architect REX’s Perelman Performing Arts Center will, when completed, serve as a hopeful beacon, transforming day to night, from a mute white cube to a glowing marble lantern. The design will complement the World Trade Center, its 9/11 Memorial, and the infamous Oculus, the most excessive subway station.

St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine, 130 Liberty Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

5:38 p.m.: Speaking of Santiago Calatrava’s Oculus, this architect/engineer brought a second landmark to the area, the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church & National Shrine. Replacing the original 19th century church destroyed on 9/11, the new Byzantine-inspired building glowed, like the Perelman Center, as a lantern of renewal—through the use of thin slabs of translucent Pentelic marble—the same kind of stone used at the Parthenon in Athens.

Courtyard of 130 William Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

6:32 p.m.: Sir David Adjaye’s work is reductive, raw, deceptively simple. This 66-floor luxury condo tower explored arches and arches . . . and even more arches. The darkly-tinted, heavily-textured, hand-cast concrete panels expressed both an enigmatic mystery and somber toughness.

Temple Court, Beekman Hotel, 5 Beekman Street (photo by Anthony Poon)

7:00 p.m.: I concluded my NYC tour with a sumptuous meal at Tom Coliccho’s Temple Court restaurant set within the historic 1883 Beekman Hotel. The 2016 renovation of the Romanesque Revival structure, one of the city’s first skyscrapers, restored the splendor of its nine-story atrium.

A view out of my hotel window, the richness of the rarely seen back-of-house, city fabric (photo by Anthony Poon)

(I thank John Fontillas, Principal of H3, for his insights into generating this list to play architectural tourist.)

#153: SOCIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY: SCALE AND OPTICS

June 3, 2022

“Supertalls” (photo from sinelab.com)

(This essay comprises excerpts from my presentation, The Creative Process and The Ego, on February 18th at Modernism Week 2022, Palm Springs, California. An additional excerpt on ego and arrogance is here.)

The architect’s responsibility to society goes far beyond the state legislature of “protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public.” Certainly, a design must ensure that a movie theater has the right number of emergency exits, for example. But social responsibility extends far beyond compliance with building codes. Just to name a few topics of accountability: carbon footprint reduction, community engagement, equity and equality, industry diversity, ethical labor practices, philanthropy, resilience, and affordability of housing.

At my presentation, The Creative Process and the Ego, Modernism Week 2022, Palm Springs, California (photo by Oive Stays)

Please heed Stan Lee as he proclaimed, “With great power, there must also come great responsibility!”

When I ponder social responsibility, I also confront social irresponsibility. As I prepared my notes for a presentation for Modernism Week 2022, out of a number of unfortunate examples of imprudence, two come to mind: scale and optics.

left: Eiffel Tower, Paris, France (photo by Anthony Delanoix on Unsplash); right: Empire State Building, New York, New York (photo by Sam Trotman on Unsplash)

First, how tall do we need to build? When the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1887, we reached the limits of our engineering and creative ambitions. At 1,083 feet tall, Eiffel was a marvel and over time, has become one of the most beloved structures in the world. Who knew we would need or want to build taller?

In 1930, the Empire State Building shattered records, completed with a height of 1,454 feet. Over the years since, clients, developers, corporations, engineers, and architects continued an obsession to pierce the sky with vertical and priapic structures. Perhaps, ego and arrogance were the fuel.

From Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat

Currently, the award of conceit goes to the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Exceeding $1 billion in construction cost, when completed, this literal skyscraper of hotel rooms, residences, and offices will be 3,281 feet tall—three times the height of the Eiffel Tower and more than twice the height of the Empire State building.

A previous time in New York City, red line added (photo by George Marks | Getty Images)

The social responsibility of height is not just a numerical indicator. Height is also a concept of scale, meaning responsibility requires architects to understand a building’s height in relationship to its surroundings—whether to be complementary or intentional divisive. The early photo of New York City above displays a red line suggesting a consistent height the buildings, resulting in a cohesive scale and compatibility of neighbors.

“Supertalls,” red line added (photo from sinelab.com)

The above image depicts NYC today with a similar red line. Half a dozen projects, about 120 to 150 floors tall, counter the scale of the area. Called “Supertalls,” these skyscrapers south of Central Park—mostly residential units serving the super-affluent—pose the questions: Just because we can build this tall, should we? What is the responsibility towards the scale of the existing urban fabric?

101 California Street, San Francisco, California (left photo from 101california.com; right photo from socketsite.com)

The irresponsibility with optics is evident with the 48-floor office building at 101 California, San Francisco. For the design at the street level—though it is likely that the architect and structural engineer have completed a safe structure, the optics of the sliced bottom with slender columns leaves one to wonder. Is this the responsible and appropriate look for a city known for earthquakes? Does the design idea not remind one of a tree ready to fall?

left: buckinbillyray.com; middle: familyhandyman.com; right: outgress.com

There are many areas of social responsibility, from low-hanging fruit to visionary ambitions. Architects should not shirk the leverage they hold. With societal precedence having granted architects tremendous influence, let’s not let our creative thinking be impaired by ego and poor decision making.

#147: TRIBUTE: RICARDO BOFILL (1939-2022) AND THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE FANTASTICAL

January 28, 2022

La Mazanera, Calpe, Alicante, Spain (photo from ricarobofill.com)

A titan amongst us architects has left this world: Ricardo Bofill. In the zeitgeist of art, design, and individualism, it feels as if Atlas finally shrugged.

In 1986 New York City (here and here) I, a young architect bravely stomping the granite cobblestones of SoHo streets, came across one of those suspicious card tables selling random artifacts. The seller and his temporary setting, appearing ready to pack up and run in an instant, had me wonder if his goods were stolen, fake, or both.

Les Espaces D’Abraxas, Marne-la-Valle, France (photo by Ricardo Bofill)

A large coffee table book, 12 inches square and one-inch thick, stood out from the scatter of tarnished jewelry, etched dishware, and stacks of art books, old postcard, and dog-leafed magazines. My eye caught, Ricardo Bofill: Taller De Arquitectura, published by the then-giant Rizzoli. I did not know this architect, yet I was drawn to the cover image of a fantastical project (pictured above). I negotiated with the seller a price that fit the few crumpled dollars I had in my big boy pants.

Walden 7, Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona, Spain (photo by Denis Esakov)

Back at my third-floor, walk-up, Chelsea studio, I devoured the architecture of Barcelona-born Ricardo Bofill—ambitious, utopian, revolutionary. Even controversial. Sometimes called dystopic. His global fame rose in the 70s and 80s with housing designs in France, several blocks large for neighborhoods like Marne-la-Valle. But much of his visionary creations in Spain preceded this recognition, and such earlier work established Bofill as an imaginary and puzzling thinker, akin to countryman, Antoni Gaudi.

El Parque de La Marca Hispanica, Le Perthus, Franco-Spanish border (photo by Ricardo Bofill)

His company name, Taller de Arquitectura, literally meant “architecture workshop.” This collaborative enclave of talent explored works of fantasy, concrete classicism, hyper Post-Modernism, organic forms, unprecedented sculptural forms and colors, and prefab concrete system construction—and did so beyond Spain and France, contributing to the urban fabric of the United States, Russia, India, Africa, and China.

Les Arcades du Lac, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France (photo by Gregori Civera)

Much like “The Factory,” a culture and workplace of Andy Warhol’s making, Taller de Arquitectura was a cross disciplinary atelier comprising skills beyond architects, interior designers, and contractors, to include psychiatrists, philosophers, mathematicians, and poets. Akin to the makeup of his personnel, Bofill’s influences were eclectic: Wright, Barragan, Kahn, Aalto, Archigram, Japanese Metabolists, as well as artists like de Chirico, Escher, and Magritte. These lists of design references, geography, various philosophies, alongside his 1,000 completed projects indicate a man beyond measure.

Interior of Walden 7, Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona, Spain (photo by Ricardo Bofill)

Bofill’s influence spanned across pop culture, films, TV shows, and video games, as his work is seen in movies such as The Hunger Games and in TV like Westworld and the recent Korean hit, Squid Game. In 1975, the President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, labeled Bofill, “the greatest architect in the world,” later embellishing, “the greatest architect since Michelangelo.”

The Sanctuary of Meritxell, Andorra (photo by Ricardo Bofill)

Few architects have established themselves as an artist with such heroic and audacious ideas—drawings that leap out from the pages of Bofill’s sketchbook into the context of major cities as iconic and colossal built work. His courage and creativity will be missed. Like his 30-silo cement factory turned headquarters and home, Ricard Bofill saw the world differently, shaped it to his will, and left monuments scattered around the globe for the rest of us to be humbled.

The adaptive reuse of an abandoned, turn-of-the-century, cement factory. La Fabrica, Sant Just Desvern, Barcelona, Spain
(photo from us.gestalten.com)

#58: TRIBUTE: HUGH HARDY EXCLAIMS “HAPPY DAY! ONWARD!” (1932-2017)

March 20, 2017

Renovation of Radio City Music Hall, New York, New York, by Hugh Hardy w/ HHPA (photo by Radio City Music Hall)

I arrived at Hugh Hardy’s New York office in the Flatiron District. Mr. Hardy bellowed, “Anthony! How are you, my fine fellow?”—with a resonance of incredible welcome coupled with the thespianism of a Broadway musical. I visited Hugh’s architecture company only a dozen times, and each time, he greeted me with such sonority that his studio of young architects beamed with joy.

18 West 11th Street, New York, New York, by Hugh Hardy with HHPA (photo by Steve Minor)
18 West 11th Street, New York, New York, by Hugh Hardy with HHPA (photo by Steve Minor)

The field of architecture lost this hero last week, Hugh Hardy. Many can agree that every day, clients and colleagues would bask in Hugh’s warm spotlight. As he enjoyed his long career as if a kid on stage with a receptive audience, our legendary architect would bring his personal theater to Manhattan. For the record, nearly every important performing arts venue in New York City, as well as many other buildings around the country, were graced by Hugh’s architectural talents.

In the late 90’s, I joined Hugh’s company, Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, known also as HHPA. In collaboration with Principal Norman Pfeiffer and his team, I headed up many of the design projects at HHPA’s Los Angeles’ office. Over my five years with the firm, I was fortunate to work on impactful projects: the 150,000 square foot DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame, and the 200,000 square foot library for the American University of Cairo, Egypt—just to name two of dozens.

Rendering-Front-Web

top: Library concept sketch for the American University of Cairo, Egypt by Anthony Poon; bottom: completed project by HHPA (photo by Pfeiffer Partners)
top: Library concept sketch for the American University of Cairo, Egypt by Anthony Poon; bottom: completed project by HHPA (photo by Pfeiffer Partners)

When Hugh visited his Los Angeles outpost for my first time, I witnessed his enthusiasm for design, an articulate language of leadership, and incredible showmanship—voice booming with drama and delight.

Model-Master-Plan-Web

top: Northwest Campus concept model for University of California, Los Angeles, by John Fontillas and Anthony Poon; bottom: six completed dormitory towers by HHPA (photo by Elon Schoenholz)
top: Northwest Campus concept model for University of California, Los Angeles, by John Fontillas and Anthony Poon; bottom: six completed dormitory towers by HHPA (photo by Elon Schoenholz)

Then, HHPA landed a big commission: three new dormitories and three renovated ones for UCLA. 2,000 new student beds in total. I represented the Los Angeles studio, and John Fontillas, friend, classmate and colleague (and future design partner to Hugh) represented the New York studio. Traveling east to New York for periodic design sessions, I watched Hugh command the company’s “war room” with grace accompanied by his sharp eye for constructive criticism.

Example: We completed the biggest commission of that period, Soka University—an entire hilltop campus in Southern California built from scratch. 103 acres, 20 college buildings, plazas, courtyards, lake, and so on. At the grand opening, Hugh was demanding, as he smiled, winked, and asked his team, “Is this the best you could do?”

Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California, by HHPA (photo from www.sgi-d.org)
Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, California, by HHPA (photo from www.sgi-d.org)

Some of us laughed, uncertain as to whether it was meant to be serious or funny, inspiring or insulting. Some of us were uneasy that more than five years of our career were dismissed by this father figure of architecture. Most of us knew that Hugh had a vision for this world, and it extended beyond successfully re-envisioning his island of New York City.

Hugh Hardy was of this island. He walked the streets, and he rode the subways. Representing both the dreams of the people and the people themselves, he always reached for the brightest future, one “Happy Day” at a time. “Onward!”

Hugh Hardy in 1987 (photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)
Hugh Hardy in 1987 (photo by Deborah Feingold/Corbis via Getty Images)

#36: THE WORLD FAMOUS I.M. PEI AND THE BEST JOB I NEVER HAD

May 13, 2016

Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France, by I.M. Pei & Partners (photo by Benh Lieu Song)

Though the job interview at I.M. Pei’s company started normal enough, it was over before it began.

Arriving in Manhattan, I only had a couple hundred bucks, my cousin’s sofa to crash on for two weeks, and my architecture portfolio. I needed a job. Badly.

Having just graduated college, my resume pathetically displayed only three months of professional experience, which consisted mostly of practicing how to write nice letters. I don’t mean correspondences and memos. I mean literally writing letters. I practiced my A’s, B’s and C’s.

My architectural portfolio from UC Berkeley
My architectural portfolio from UC Berkeley

To get an architecture job, it comes down to your portfolio, a black binder that holds your design work. I had received good advice ahead of time. A portfolio was not, as many young architects wrongly believe, a comprehensive chronological tome of all of one’s school work—from the first year of learning how to draw an apple, to the middle years of designing a house, to the final studio of something complex such as a civic center.

Imagine the bored interviewer listening to you drone on, “And in this third semester class, we designed a blah, blah, blah . . . for my fourth semester . . . now, let’s turn to page 108 of my portfolio . . .” No, a portfolio should be a vigilantly curated story of one’s creativity.

For my New York interviews, my portfolio was sound: A few school projects, a sample of drafting from an internship, and some personal pieces of photography and figure drawing. I was, I felt, a well-rounded candidate for an entry position.

East Building, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., by I.M. Pei & Partners (photo by National Gallery of Art)
East Building, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., by I.M. Pei & Partners (photo by National Gallery of Art)

I mailed dozens of resumes to architecture firms in NYC, from the highest profile corporations to the small studios. (No email back then.) One day after several rejections, I returned to a voicemail on my cousin’s answering machine. (No cell phones back then.) It was from the offices of I.M. Pei.

I..M. PEI!

Mr. Pei’s HR person left me a voicemail, asking if I was available for an interview. This was it: A dream come true for any young architect, a possible job at one of the most prestigious companies on the globe!

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (photo by Timothy Hursley)
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (photo by Timothy Hursley)

Wearing my only suit and tie, I went through the usual motions with Pei’s interviewer. He asked a few questions about how I liked Berkeley, about my piano playing, etc. He then got to the meat of the interview: My portfolio. While flipping through my colorful pages, he explained the office building that I would design, if I got the job.

I’d already be assigned an office building to design!

John Hancock Tower, Boston, Massachusetts, by I.M. Pei & Partners (photo from architectmagazine.com)
John Hancock Tower, Boston, Massachusetts, by I.M. Pei & Partners (photo from architectmagazine.com)

But he was perplexed. He looked at my trivial portfolio. He studied my skimpy resume. Then looked at me. Then at the resume. Then me. Then resume.

Finally, he inquired in a puzzled state, “I don’t get it. How old are you?”

Before I answered, he repeated a little more aggressively, “How old are you?!”

Squeaking out, “I am 22 years old.”

Dumbfounded and perturbed, he demanded, “Where are the 17 years of experience?”

I was equally dumbfounded. “What 17 years are you talking about?”—trying not to be disrespectful of the eminent offices of I.M. Pei.

He asserted that this was an interview for a senior architect to design an 85-story office tower.

I explained, retreating for no real reason, “Sorry, but I have less than one year of experience.”

Choate Rosemary Hall Science Center, Wallingford, Connecticut, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (photo from pcf-p.com)
Choate Rosemary Hall Science Center, Wallingford, Connecticut, by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (photo from pcf-p.com)

Long story short: A harried HR person made a mistake transcribing numbers between my resume and the office form my interviewer was looking at now. The embarrassed—though more frustrated than embarrassed—interviewer showed me, turning the office form around for me to witness. There indeed did my 22 year-old eyes see in one-inch tall letters: “17 years of experience. Good candidate!”

The interviewer expressed annoyance, angered by the sloppiness from his world-class company that prides itself on designs of perfect proportions, exquisitely executed finishes, and highly detailed precision.

My first job in New York City at M. Paul Friedberg and Partners, late 80’s
My first job in New York City at M. Paul Friedberg and Partners, late 80’s

Like a little boy whose ice cream scoop had fallen off his cone into the dirt, I picked up my portfolio and left the best job opportunity I never had.

#27: A MIGHTY CITY FREEZES OVER, PART 2 OF 4

January 23, 2016

Central Park (photo by Denis Balin)

Not long after Manhattan’s ochre and sepia autumn, gentle blowing breezes become fiercely gusting winds. Winter’s gale wants so perversely to whip the flesh off our bones. It seems as if the city might blow away. Merciless, it was my first New York December. Circa 1986, a-city-freezing-over.

Snow appears shortly, a freeze paralyzing a monumental city. Sharp icy spirits bite my body. My skin, a brittle armor, feels weak and fragile—like the first thin layer of ice over a vast lake. As wind chills my stone dry face, snow starts to gather along my eyelids. The gust of a snowstorm. This frigid onslaught.

Midtown, New York, New York (photo by Crazy Frankenstein)
Midtown, New York, New York (photo by Crazy Frankenstein)

Days pass and snow continues to fall. Falling from nowhere in particular, trying so damn hard to cover the Earth, the snow stays afloat in circles of windy nonsense.

All is white. A severe week of this albinism weakens the city, strips the land not just of pigmentation, but of courage as well. Everyone hides inside. Different than a yellow and orange fall, a new color scheme is upon me. This palette is of white nothingness, aggressive in its modesty.

Around the city, I see colorless loosely-formed shapes, rounded soft configurations, like a world made child-safe. Everything is homogenous: an opaque white Jell-O poured into a city-scale mold.

At night, snow reflects the downward light from street lamps back upward. Peculiar because light is rarely thought of as illuminating up from the ground. Imagine walking on light. Imagine no shadows. Every piece of this mighty city has been ungrounded.

Grand Central, New York, New York (photo by White Spaces)
Grand Central, New York, New York (photo by White Spaces)

Any evidence that might suggest a breathing city, vanishes under a deep blanket of white silence. The town freezes to a death-like passivity. The great city lays low in forced hibernation. The quiet death I witness is poignant. The white repose is gentle as it is also frightening. A metropolis brought to its begging knees, is immobilized into delicate foreboding beauty. When a community sleeps a sleep as deep as this, the apparent finality is conclusive enough to rival mortality itself.

As the snow finally stops falling, as ice softens, the inhabitants come slowly out of their hiding places to once again stomp as they will, eager to take back their environment. The city turns an ugly scene of brown mud and slush. The colorless beauty I saw only moments ago is now trampled on by belligerent life. This vigor of street activity pecks away at winter’s lush blanket, leaving it a dirty muddy mess. I prefer the elegance of a resting death to this combative unattractive life.

© Poon Design Inc.