How can you pick out a landmark building in a city that possibly contains more instantly recognizable skyscrapers than any other? New York has never been shy about making a statement with modern architecture, and thanks to Architecture and Design Month (October 1-31), October offers 31 days and more than 100 ways to celebrate design in NYC.
Almost every major architect of the last century has contributed to the New York skyline. And while the massively popular Empire State Building and Grand Central Terminal are some of the most popular (and photographed) landmarks in the world, the more compelling sights are slightly more modern, and slightly off the beaten path. From unassuming office towers to underground art, here are the must-see landmarks in NYC for architecture lovers.
140 Essex St
The Lowline has transformed an early 20th-century underground trolley terminal on the Lower East Side into the world’s first underground park. Using innovative solar technology, the previously abandoned and disused space has been shaped into a beautiful respite and cultural attraction in one of the world’s most dense, exciting urban environments.
David Zwirner Gallery
537 W 20th St
New York is famous for its mega museums, yes, but New York’s power art crowd gather day and night in Chelsea, a slick West Side neighborhood. Representing more than 40 artists, such as Yayoi Kusama, Doug Wheeler and Dan Flavin, David Zwirner has two galleries in Chelsea. The newer 20th Street gallery, opened in 2013, is a new-build by Selldorf Architects. The industrial edge of the exposed concrete facade is tempered by teak window frames and panelling at the entrance. This month, see Fred Sandback: Vertical Constructions, on view until October 22.
Columbus Circle subway station
A heavily traversed public passageway in NYC’s underground subway system has been transformed into a vibrant public space for shopping, eating and gathering. Extending a full city block below the street and above the train tunnel, the mezzanine-level concourse connects the Columbus Circle subway station to multiple sidewalk entries and building lobbies. While in the station, don’t miss the public art like Whirls and twirls (MTA), 2009 by the late conceptual artist Sol LeWitt.
390 Park Ave
Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois’ seminal skyscraper is a triumph of the International Style. Completed in 1952, it was only the second building to use floor-to-ceiling glass windows to achieve the modernist ideal of a curtain of glass. It has served as a model for almost every NYC skyscraper that followed. This Archtober, dine out at Casa Lever for refined Milanese dishes at the restaurant’s sleek, modernist space in lever House.
945 Madison Ave
The 1966 Breuer Building hosts collaborative projects between the Whitney and Metropolitan Museum of Art. While its Upper East Side location places it among the city’s venerable museums (the Met, Guggenheim and Cooper-Hewitt), the landmark building designed by Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer stands out in the neighborhood, known for its quintessential liveried doormen and socialites carrying bag upon bag after a day’s shopping on Madison. Skip the swanky stores and explore art of the 20th and 21st centuries, like a landmark exhibition featuring more than 100 photographs by Diane Arbus, on view until November 27.
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