Hudson Yards

“Up in the sky, Hudson Yards’ observation deck may also become an attraction — a triangular platform, 1,100 feet high, theatrically cantilevered from the top of 30 [Hudson Yards], with bleachers that provide an even loftier view. It opens next year.

I got a preview the other day. It’s one of the most amazing vistas over the city. I gazed north toward Harlem, gaped at the Empire State Building, and took in Lower Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty.

New York is awesome, I thought.

Then it occurred to me.

From that deck, you can’t see Hudson Yards.”
Hudson Yards Is Manhattan’s Biggest, Newest, Slickest Gated Community. Is This the Neighborhood New York Deserves? by Michael Kimmelman, Architecture critic, The New York Times, 14 March 2019

What sort of place?

Screen grab of

Screen grab of

“A new place is emerging.
The question is, what sort of place?
And this is the immediate problem with Hudson Yards.”

It is, at heart, a supersized suburban-style office park, with a shopping mall and a quasi-gated condo community targeted at the 0.1 percent.

A relic of dated 2000s thinking, nearly devoid of urban design, it declines to blend into the city grid. […]

[T]he whole site lacks any semblance of human scale…as if the peak ambitions of city life were consuming luxury goods and enjoying a smooth, seductive, mindless materialism.

It gives physical form to a crisis of city leadership, asleep at the wheel through two administrations, and to a pernicious theory of civic welfare that presumes private development is New York’s primary goal, the truest measure of urban vitality and health, with money the city’s only real currency.

Hudson Yards Is Manhattan’s Biggest, Newest, Slickest Gated Community. Is This the Neighborhood New York Deserves? by Michael Kimmelman, Architecture critic, The New York Times, 14 March 2019

"They are the only experts"

Expertise is unfashionable right now, partly because our society is not very good at understanding who is expert at what, so we give too much power to some people and not enough power to others. […]

Sadly, we don’t see residents as experts. This is a critical and corrosive mistake. Of course, they certainly are not experts in how to reduce greenhouse gases, or pave roads, or pick bike routes. They should not be picking beams for a bridge.

But citizens of a city do know how the built environment makes them feel, and how they would like to feel.

They are experts in how increasing taxes will stress them out. They are experts in hidden secrets of their streets and alleys. They are experts in the amenities they want for themselves and their family. They are the only experts. Their expertise should be respected.”

From Most Public Engagement Is Worse Than Worthless by sustainability consultant Ruben Anderson, August 6, 2018

The experience


[Christo, sitting down with three workers to discuss his proposal to wrap the iconic Pont Neuf with fabric.]

Worker: “Paintings are witnesses of the evolution of a certain era. But here there will be nothing left in the end…”

Christo: “But wait. Each era has its own means. We now have electronics. There is a camera filming us now. Imagine if under Louis XIV there were cameras. That would be extraordinary. The 20th century has developed new means of memory, and all this is a question of historical memory.”

Worker: “It gives me a feeling of uselessness because it’s temporary." 

Christo: "Because it’s going to disappear after 2 weeks? But in the end, the experience, you can never take that away.”

From the documentary Christo in Paris, 1990

"There is the blueprint"

Someone puts his eye to a crack in a fence, he sees cranes pulling up other cranes, scaffoldings that embrace other scaffoldings, beams that prop up other beams. ‘What meaning does your construction have?’ he asks. ‘What is the aim of a city under construction unless it is a city? Where is the plan you are following, the blueprint?’

‘We will show it to you as soon as the working day is over; we cannot interrupt our work now,’ they answer.

Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. ‘There is the blueprint,’ they say.
— The city of Thekla, From Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino.