Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

A New Skyline


This past February, I impulsively decided to go to New York City for spring break. Why not, I thought—after all, I am an Urban Studies major and had gotten tired of reading Jane Jacobs without having ever seen Greenwich Village. The one thing that prompted my spontaneous airplane ticket purchase?  

This New York Times article about Frank Gehry’s new addition to the City’s skyline.  Finally a positive review about modern building design—and even more significantly, in a city with as much skyline controversy and sensitivity as New York. My first glimpse of the tower, which is located at 8 Spruce Street, was as I got off the subway at 5:30am, delirious and disoriented from my red-eye flight. While my view wasn’t as glorious as those seen in the New York Times slideshow, it was certainly impressive to see this dominating structure among classic New York skyscrapers.

Later in the week, I saw the tower again as I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge. No, I will never be able to afford a luxury apartment in the tower with sweeping views of Brooklyn, oddly-shaped rooms, and a glass-fronted lobby, but I can walk across the city, two-dollar hot dog in hand, and enjoy the outside of the building—which is, I think, a much better deal. 

 And while it is pretentiously being marketed as “New York by Gehry”, the incorporation of a public school and hospital on the building’s first six floors is an excellent example of mixed-use.  It’s dramatic waves and undulations are a far cry from Le Corbusier’s apartment towers, showing a welcome departure from most current development and reintegrating context.  It is, above all else, a place-based structure, and the City should be proud to have a new masterpiece as part of the world’s most famous skyline. 


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