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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Off-the-Beaten-Path Modernism in N.Y.C.

 89-01 Queens Boulevard: A former branch of the Jamaica Savings Bank (now Capital One), designed by William Franklin Cann in 1968. Ten years earlier, Cann (1916-1983) created one of the most eye-catching icons of the American roadway: The signature origami-ish orange-roofed gatehouses for Howard Johnson's

Soaring to 43 at its highest point, the hyperbolic paraboloid copper-clad roof suggests a bird in flight or a butterfly. In an out-of-the-ordinary affirmation of mid-20th century architecture, the Landmarks Preservation Commission bestowed landmark status to the bank in 2005, a designation that was quickly revoked by the City Council, which caved to grievances from Capital One and a vocal citizenry that viewed the building as merely an eyesore.  

 North Shore Waterfront Esplanade, Staten Island: Designed by Masayuki Sono and dedicated in 2004, this memorial remembers the 274 Staten Islanders who died on 9/11.

 Twinned 40-foot steles evoke varied interpretations: wings; post cards sent to lost loved ones; pages of a book turning to a new chapter; a flower about to blossom.

 Grand Concourse and 165th Street: The Miami-based firm Architectonica expanded the Bronx Museum of the Arts with this accordion-like addition in 2006.

 Interior lighting is by Herv√© Descottes of L'Observatoire International, which also designed illumination for the High Line and the new-and-improved Columbus Circle.

 Fort Washington and Wadsworth Avenues, West 178th to West 179th Streets, Manhattan: A bird's-eye view of the 14 triangular projections of the George Washington Bridge Bus Station, which straddles I-95. Like the Jamaica Savings Bank in Queens, the form has been compared to a butterfly.

Designed by Pier Luigi Nervi, the station opened in 1963 and is one of just a handful of his Modern masterpieces outside Italy. The deltoidal openings are not only rhythmically pleasing to the eye, they also ventilate fumes from the 950 buses that daily come and go.
To see more Modernism in New York City, visit: Mid-Century Manhattan Churches & Modernist Townhouses in Manhattan & Ten Mid-Cen Gems in Manhattan

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