New York City Architecture: What are the City’s Best Buildings?


New York City architecture building the Cooper Union reflects silvery light off of its sweeping roofline

New Yorkers are famous for their opinions, usually expressed at high volume, with zero chance of being convinced otherwise. In fact, just about every aspect of New York City living can quickly turn into a lively debate, and New York City architecture is no different… even (or, perhaps, especially) among non-architects. Which makes perfect sense: after all, New Yorkers consider the skyline–and, so, every NYC building in it–to be a part of their home, their town, to be, somehow, theirs. Still, it makes us chuckle every time we hear someone launch into a passionate defense of / ferocious attack upon a building that they 1. don't live in; 2. don't work in; 3. rarely, if ever, even see. Until, that is, we catch ourselves doing the exact same thing. 

NYC Building Hearst a traditional stone building with angled glass triangle shapes to form a tower on top

Anyway, the recent verbal fisticuffs over New York City architecture–specifically, whether Vornado should be allowed to build 15 Penn Plaza, a mere 50 feet shorter and just two blocks away from the Empire State Building–reminded us how strongly New Yorkers feel about their buildings, and, at the risk of re-igniting a debate around here at Glenwood, we thought it would fun to take another look at two of our favorite "NYC Best Buildings" lists.

The Curbed Top of the Aughts: New York City's Best New Buildings 2000 – 2009

40 Bond is part of the best New York City architecture with its unique tunnelled room design and exterior sculptures

Our friends over at Curbed delivered this thoughtful, compelling, and slightly incorrect list last year around this time. The Hearst Tower topper? Yes. The prow-ish new Alice Tully Hall? Yup. The New Museum, and 40 Bond? Absolutely. The cracked Cooper Union Academic Building? One of our favorites of New York City architecture any decade! But where's Blue, which infuses new life and energy (and, of course, color) into the Lower East Side, while somehow not overwhelming everything else in one of the oldest neighborhoods in town. And how about the (albeit now-stalled) condo tower One Madison Park, with its jutting glass terraces that, though thoroughly contemporary, fit in so well with its iconic neighbors. 

The Blue NYC building has various blue windows that reflect and blend with the sky


The Center For Architecture: 10 Great NYC Buildings to See   


Prada Store is a Manhattan building with a grand staircase filled with mannequins to showcase clothing

The New York City chapter of the American Institute for Architects put together this list a couple of years ago, presumably for tourists, and we liked it then–and like it now–for its casual rejection of the obvious (no ESB! no Guggenheim!) and its eclectic sense of inclusion. It reminded us how much we like the grand staircase / ramp of the Prada Store in Soho, for example, by Rem Koolhaas. The Morgan Library addition is an excellent choice as well, an expansion that beautifully integrates Renzo Piano's modern aesthetic with the robber baron's classic marble mansion. Can't argue with Grand Central Terminal, nor the Chrysler Building, nor even the Conde Nast Building in Times Square, either. Though we may have been forced to include, among other things, the High Line (not technically a New York City building, true, but still…), and maybe even the Flatiron, just because it looks so lovely the way the light hits it in the evening.  

The High Line New York City building at night is a sweeping structure with a walkway bridge and pathway



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