Curbed Awards ’12 Architecture: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly!

CurbedDecember 28, 2012
It's time to make up a bunch of awards and hand them out to the most deserving people, places and things in the real estate, architecture and neighborhood universes of New York City! Yep, it's time for the Ninth Annual Curbed Awards! Up now: architecure.

Oops There Goes My View Award
One57, the city's next tallest residential building, has topped out and took with it the Central Park views of many nearby buildings. Needless to say, the neighbors, especially those in the Metropolitan Tower, are pissed that the value of their view took a nose dive.

Most Exciting Born-Again Building
We did our happy dance when work restarted at 56 Leonard Street. The Jenga-like finger resumed construction in October, after sitting dormant for more than three years. No major modifications have been made to the design (except for the removal of the Anish Kapoor sculpture at the base), so we can expect to marvel at the superstructure by spring 2016.

Best Building We'll Never See
Thanks to a design challenge by the Municipal Art Society, Skidmore Ownigs and Merill created the most exciting realistic building we've seen in a long time—twin towers rising above Grand Central, linked by a massive pedestrian halo. While the architects worked with engineers to make the design feasible, it's far too awesome for this city to ever implement.

Hot Karl Award For Continued Crappiness
Karl Fischer had a busy year, bringing his ugly designs and shoddy craftsmanship to a dozen new sites. Here are a few highlights:
6) The Arman: Karl's nicest-looking building unveiled floorplans and interiors in February.
5) Crescent Club: More good news for ol' Karl! The long-stalled Crescent Club finally opened and people apparently really like living there because the apartments are renting like hotcakes.
4) 84 Third Avenue: Plans were unveiled for a boxy behemoth at the corner of East 12th Street. It will bring us 12 stories of Karl Fischer madness.
3) 267 Sixth Street: A.k.a. the building Karl Fischer named "Landmark Park Slope." A bit presumptuous, no?
2) 201 Water Street: Hot Karl takes to the waterfront, with plans for a warehouse-to-residential conversion. Can he succeed in making it uglier than it already is?
1) 261 Skillman Street: Perhaps the saddest of all Karl developments, a Bed-Stuy church is set to receive a condo makeover from the man. Ugh.

Most Poetic Archicritic
Bloomberg critic James S. Russell has such a way with words that his flowery prose inspired us to create a feature just for him: Rhyme Time With James Russell. Click through to enjoy his poetry.

Most Prolific Starchitect
Lord Norman Foster has felt the love from New York City developers this year. Not only were his plans for The New York Public Library finally revealed, but he was chosen to build the new 425 Park Avenue and 50 UN Plaza.

Best Rediscovered Architect
Thanks to JDS Development, Ralph Walker is receiving the Post Lifetime Achievement Award for the rebirth of Walker Tower as luxury condos. The developers really played up Walker's reputation while marketing the building, putting on a special exhibition and creating the above video about him. He'd probably be quite pleased with the conversion, as the apartments are selling for ridonkulously high prices—the most expensive penthouses are expect to ask $10,000/square foot. They aren't on the market yet, but there is one that's already asking more than $6,000/square foot.

The Reborn Robert Scarano Award
Banned architect Robert Scarano may not be causing controversy in New York anymore, but his buildings still are. An empty Scarano building at 165 West 9th Street in Carroll Gardens has neighbors up in arms because the city has started using it as a homeless shelter for single men. The whole thing is wildly complicated and shady, which we're sure makes Scarano happy.

Most Mindboggling Rendering Reveals
4) 432 Park Avenue: We've lost track of which future building will be the tallest in the city, but at one point, Rafael Vinoly's tower at the former site of the Drake Hotel was going to take that honor. It revealed itself in June.
3) Hudson Yards: A million different versions of Hudson Yards have popped up in renderings over the last few years, but this year, we finally saw the whole new neighborhood.
2) Moynihan Station: Some day, likely in the far off future, we may catch trains in a place called Moynihan Station, and it could like this.
1) Greenpoint Land: Will these 10 towers and Santiago Calatrava bridge actually rise on the North Brooklyn waterfront?

Most Extreme Makeover Plans
Howard Hughes Development Corporation isn't just renovation Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport—they are knocking the whole thing down and starting over. The new pier will have a glass mall and entertainment venue topped with a large, publicly accessible green roof. It's created by design-firm-of-the-moment, SHoP Architects, of course. Add to the makeover the proposed green roofs for historic buildings in South Street Seaport, and the place is going to turn into a proper nature reserve.


Building of the Year
We really had no choice but to give this one to the Barclays Center. The low-slung, pre-rusted arena inspired some of the best review from the city's archicritics, both good and bad. Highlights from the good: Kimmelman called it "an architectural chest bump," and Justin Davidson said it is "a great, tough-hided beast of a building." Highlights from the bad: James Russell thinks the arena is "exceedingly strange" and "an extraordinarily expensive lost opportunity." Alexandra Lange called it an "alien presence," and Liz Robbins said it's a "a giant rusty bread basket." No matter what you call it, it's here to stay.

ARCHIVES