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 its modern architecture.
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 most 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.
Want to visit the world’s first underground park? The Lowline is a transformed early 20th-century underground trolley terminal on the Lower East Side. Using innovative solar technology, the previously abandoned and disused space has been shaped into a beautiful respite. It’s an inspiring cultural attraction in one of the world’s most dense, exciting urban environments.
David Zwirner Gallery
New York is famous for its mega-museums, yes. But New York’s power art crowd gathers day and night in Chelsea, a slick West Side neighborhood. David Zwirner has two galleries in Chelsea, representing more than 40 artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Doug Wheeler, and Dan Flavin. As far as architecture goes: the newer 20th Street gallery opened in 2013 and is a new-build by Selldorf Architects. The industrial edge of the exposed concrete facade is tempered by teak window frames and paneling at the entrance. A delight for the eye from the inside and the outside.
Turnstyle at 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 over a full city block below the street level and above the train tunnel, the concourse connects the Columbus Circle subway station to multiple sidewalk entries and building lobbies. While at the station, don’t miss the public artwork like Whirls and twirls (MTA), made in 2009 by the late conceptual artist Sol LeWitt.
Gordon Bunshaft and Natalie de Blois’ seminal skyscraper is a triumph of the International Style. Completed in 1952, it was the second building ever 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. The building also houses the Lever House Art Collection, with temporary exhibitions changing every few months.
The 1966 Breuer Building hosts collaborative projects between the Whitney and Metropolitan Museum of Art. Its Upper East Side location places it among the city’s venerable museums like the Met, Guggenheim, and Cooper-Hewitt. Even so, the landmark 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 the art of the 20th and 21st century.