In architecturally crowded Hong Kong, plazas are a rare breath of open air. The luxurious Causeway Bay district, whose retail rental rates surpassed New York City’s Fifth Avenue in 2012, is home to one of these sparse open spaces, Sunning Plaza. I.M. Pei’s 27-story edifice faces a large public courtyard, a hardscape relief within the densely built area devoted to commercial shops and restaurants.
But, such a luxury is always in threat of expansion. Artinfo reported that developer Hysan will soon be converting the space into additional commercial stores and offices. Pei’s 1982 building is to be demolished by the end of this year and the plaza is going with it.
Manhattan Community Board 2 unanimously voted against the NYU expansion plan in Greenwich Village last night citing the impact its scale would have on the neighborhood. Grimshaw with Toshiko Mori designed four of the proposed towers and Michael Van Valkenburgh designed the landscape for the 2.4 million square foot expansion. The plans were set within two superblocks that sprang from Robert Moses-era urban renewal projects that featured buildings by I.M. Pei, Paul Lester Weiner, and a garden by Hideo Sasaki.
Terminal 6 has been on Death’s Row at least since June 2010. So why are so many aflutter now? It’s an old adage but a persistent one: It hasn’t happened until the New York Times reports it, or until there’s a television tie-in as newsworthy as the cheesy jet set-orama, “Pan Am” on ABC.
I.M. Pei speaks and NYU listens. The university announced this week that plans for a Grimshaw-designed residential highrise planned for Pei’s landmarked Silver Towers block will be scrapped after the architect expressed disapproval over the project. The proposed 400-foot tower set amid three original concrete structures had been a point of conflict between NYU and its neighbors.
Open House New York’s annual weekend of free tours is this weekend, on October 9 & 10. You may have waited too long to book many of these tours, but there are still some with space available on Saturday and Sunday. Open House New York was started in 2001 by architect Scott Lauer, and has quickly become America’s largest architecture and design event. It has opened spaces like the magnificent Jefferson Market Library tower to public tours (a full listing may be viewed on the OHNY website). And if you want to help this fantastic organization, come to their annual Weekend Launch Party! This year it will be on the top floor penthouse of the I.M. Pei-designed Centurion apartment tower in midtown Manhattan. The tickets are only $50, and can be purchased online or at the door. See you there!
When you enter the lobby of the I.M. Pei-designed East Wing of the National Gallery of Art, the building’s credits are prominently etched in stone. Why do you think Pei’s name has been rubbed to the point of illegibility? Are visitors paying homage or expressing disapproval? Perhaps it has something to do with those pesky panels? Whatever the case, it’s not pretty.