Tuesday, December 1, 2009


To finish up this series on Trump today, my birthday, I'd like to run through the structures he has planned for the next few years.

New York City
Handel Architects was another fortunate choice by Trump. It's a somewhat distinctive and interestingly, subtly detailed building.

Handel have done some extremely nice and recognizable work all around New York and should be commended for some of their recent work being LEED certified. But they've also worked in collaboration with some fantastic other architects, ones I mentioned in my opening post, in fact. They worked with UNStudio on the New Amsterdam Plein & Pavilion in Battery Park to celebrate the 400th anniversay of the Dutch robbing Native Americans of their land settling on the island of Manhattan. They worked with Herzog & de Meuron on the design of 40 Bond Street, one of the more gorgeous buildings to go up here in recent years. And they're working with Christian de Portzamparc on 400 Park Avenue South, a stunning structure due to be completed in 2012.

They also did four buildings for Millennium Partners with which I'm very familiar, since they're all around the neighborhood where I work: Lincoln West, the building that used to house the Tower Records; Lincoln Triangle, which has the Barnes & Noble on the first few floors; Lincoln Square where the big Sony Cineplex is; and the renovation of the Philips Club, the building just north of the Juilliard building which used to have a Balducci's on the ground floor (it's now some other upscale food market).

Closer to where I live, they designed the Aquatic Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, which I discussed before. In Long Island City, they're responsible for one of the big new apartment buildings creating a blight on the riverfront, The View at Queens West, which overlooks this:
--Photo ©2009, Ryan Witte.
I'm well aware that this exact same photo has been taken around four million different times, but I thought it came out remarkably nice, so I used this excuse to include it.

Trump Parc (2010)
Stamford, Connecticut
Costas Kondylis Design/ Lessard Group
This one is also not too awful, although a little bit on the bland side. Adding to the pressure for this to be a stunning work of architecture is that, at 350 feet, it's the tallest building in Stamford. But one might use words more like "restrained" or "reserved," which is certainly better and more appropriate for Connecticut than overblown and tacky, if it had to be one or the other extreme. One forum seems to indicate that the apartments are ridiculously overpriced for a part of the country that has impeccably tasteful traditional, vernacular residential architecture. They're allegedly having a lot of trouble selling them and have been forced to steadily lowering the prices.

This is actually one of the more successful towers Preston Partnership has done. They're based in Atlanta and have done quite a bit of work in that part of the Southeast. They've been particularly successful with smaller shopping plazas where a quaint, traditionalist style is either zoned or requested. Their work in this vein, while occasionally a little bit awkward in its detailing, is for the most part visually dynamic and has a great, personable scale.

Ironically, though these Atlanta towers are quite interesting, they seem to have a bit more trouble with their higher-rise work. They seem to have some difficulty reconciling between a pedestrian, human scale of street presence with the linear majesty required by a tower. In some cases, the buildings look like they built a tower and then just stuck a bunch of much smaller, completely unrelated buildings around the base of it. In this case, they appear to have foregone any attempt at a friendly connection to the street, and I actually think it worked in their favor here.

New Orleans
This might have been a mildly interesting building, were it not more or less a rip-off of SOM's tower for Trump in Chicago. Perhaps we should be grateful it's on hold. The latter is an infinitely superior building.

Adache's work is mostly concentrated around Florida, where they're based, with a few projects in the Caribbean. It's a lot of big hotels and resorts with the trappings of an expectedly clichéed, unimaginative sort of luxuriousness. Their massing tends toward the squat and unsophisticated. Their detailing--when not in a more studied, hence "safe" false traditionalism--is often overwrought and occasionally just downright bizarre. From the limited amount shown on their website, HSBA's best work would appear to have been in the 1970s. In recent years, it's gone from boring to unattractive to just plain ugly.

And that's all of it, as of now. In defense of Trump, in really exploring his developments, I've been surprised to have liked more of them than I initially expected. The point remains, however, that the sheer size of his projects demands a higher caliber of artistry. He should be patronizing world-class architects at every opportunity, nurturing their creative spirits, and pushing the envelope of sustainable design. All in all, it has been very interesting looking into his projects, I hope you've thought so, too.

©2009, Ryan Witte

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