Posts Tagged 'new york city'

the highline revisited

Our project for the final undergraduate studio this year is titled ‘The Museum of Unnatural History’ and is sited on the High Line in New York.  More on the strange title will come later. Our studio is heading to New York tomorrow to see the High Line + other projects in New York. What  I love about traveling with professors is that they always have some in on tours and info. This time, it will be tours by members of Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Field Operations, the two firms that co-designed the project.

The High Line during its period of disuse and neglect resulted in something beautiful and unurban. The juxtaposition is so strange that it looks like a photshopped image.

The High Line during its period of disuse and neglect resulted in something un-urban and quite beautiful.

This trip will be my fourth visit to the site, but this time through a more architectural and rigorous lens. Over the summer, I fell in love with the project and wrote about it as part of unpublished blog entry called ‘summer favorites’ (unpublished because it seems cheesy?).  Hopefully, I will come back from with a more balanced, critical view of the project, and its the success and inefficiencies.

One of the features that make Europe feel distinctly different from the U.S. is its omnipresent public space.  Barcelona felt like a endless series of plazas and Monselice’s square in a town of 12,000 in Italy, is buzzing with life on a weekend summer night.   After spending four weeks wandering, eating, sleeping in campos, campiellos, plazas, and ramblas, I was glad to have the High Line awaiting me when I returned to New York.

In fact, I had been waiting for the High Line since its MoMA exhibition years ago. The project was less than I expected but more stunning than I could have imagined. Architecturally, it is designed in every detail. DS+R invented a system that allows them to do everything they need for the project. My disappointments are only those differences between the subtle beauty of the renderings and the practicalities of real construction, and also that it is only a few blocks long at the moment.

The real beauty of the High Line is its spatial (sectional) relationship with New York. There exists no other place like it in the city. There are few things as surreal and beautiful as seeing people walking in the sky in Manhattan. From the street below, the pedestrians seem weightless as if they’ve defied the gravitational laws of New York. This feeling of surrealism derives from the fact that the city for many New Yorkers is a (under)ground level universe. The vertical real estate of Manhattan is an exclusive commodity usually reserved for those individuals who can pay to live there or work in places that can afford it. But even then New York is seen behind glass or from the stagnant view of a balcony, never traversing intersections in the open air like you do on the High Line. In the end, it  feels more ‘public’ than ground-level public parks  because it gives access to a previously exclusive and privately owned vertical dimension of  New York. What is also impressive is that the architecture is never a distraction. The design stays quiet without lacking complexity and power,  encouraging the public to experience the city in a way it never has before.

– August 2009

The High Line today with the tapering concrete strips and wild looking plants.

The High Line today with the tapering concrete strips and wild looking plants.

omg. fashion.

beginning-copyI first stepped foot in the “high fashion” world when I read the New York Times fashion magazine in 6th grad (hence my enduring loyalty that magazine). While I religiously cut out ads and editorials from the nytimes, the images of glamourous, look-at-me fashion world conflicted with the reality of living in the bronx as a 12 year old and spending 2 hours a day on a subway by yourself to school. In the city, clothing is camouflage. Dark colors, baggy pants and sweaters hide you from unwarranted attention and comments. On top of that, Old Navy and JCpenny were the most expensive clothing I ever got.

So you can imagine my shock and initial recoil when I first stepped onto the front lawn at St. Andrew’s for class pictures before my first Wednesday night dinner and was surrounded by a sea of pastels a la Lily Pulitzer and all sorts of vibrant colors. Not just the girls, but the guys too in their nantucket red pants, and/or their seersucker jakcets (I was wearing some black skirt and brown shirt. fashion faux pas? maybe and just as a side note, St. Andrew’s is a prep boarding school but completely unique among boarding schools, thanks to all wonderful headmaster Tad Roach.) In any case, I did not hold out with my dark colors for long. I eventually gave in to the sundressy, casual preppy, rolled up jeans, and mesh shorts with polo look that I still love.

Previous to inmexico, I kept a blogspot as a private-ish journal documenting my evolving thoughts on fashion, style, fashionable people etc. It was a receptacle for images of fashionable people and fashion week that inspired me as a I slowly ventured out of my jeans, sweatshirt, and rainbows comfort zone. Designers like Nicholas Ghesquiere (Balenciaga), Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Oliver Theyskens (Rochas), Veronica Etro and photographer Scott Schumann (The Sartorialist) were frequently mentioned on that blog and have become the foundations of how I understand the fit, proportions, and possibilities of clothing.

The importance and place for fashion in my life is still unclear to me. It seems to me that I spend way too much time thinking about it, talking about it, looking at it, and buying it for it to just be nothing. It is still a dream/far off fantasy to work for a fashion magazine at some point in my life. Hmmmm. Maybe.

[photocredits:, vanity fair, vogue, nytimes, blue crush, papparazzi]

Where the free things are

is where the people are.
This is especially true in New York.
Evidence: Free Friday Nights at MoMA

A free MoMA ticket may be the most wanted museum pass in the city since the place charges $12/student and $20/adult (yikes!).  Not only do you get to enjoy incredibly vibrant architecture (more on that later) and decent art, you get to use that saved money to dine at The Terrace. $12 will get you three chunks of good cheese, 3 slices of very good bread, and 9 fresh berries at the classy, minimalist looking cafe on the 4th floor of the museum

But before all that, we had to wait in a line that wrapped around three corners of a Manhattan block;  we started somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd corner.


We waited 25 minutes (not bad) during which the line got even longer and we twice had to ally with the people behind us to defend our spots from line-cutters. Here is a how you defend: you poke them very hard in the arm (which they ignore), then you must glare and rudely say “EXCUSE ME, but the END of the line is over THERE” and point dramatically at the other corner  (at which point the sneaky line cutter will avoid eye contact and pretend to be a confused foreigner).  It also helps to attract of a lot of attention so people nearby are looking suspiciously at them too. Eventually the line cutters slithered away and we got into the museum.

Being inside MoMA on a Friday night during the holiday season is probably like being in an overcroweded Asian city. Or it also looks something like the fish tanks in Chinese grocery stores in New York where all you can see fish and barely any of the water that’s supposedly in tank. Except that the tank is designed by a Yoshio Tanaguchi and it’s exciting getting through the tank and finding your way around people.


The MoMA building is quite spectacular and actually gets better as you start piling people in. The building capitalizes on the fact that people like being around other people and that a space that feels filled with people feels more vibrant. Also, two reasons why people to New York in the first place.

cimg73101Slight congestion on the escalators.

cimg72941Overlooks galore

The most impressively used space was the central atrium (1st photo) that was exhibiting a video piece being projected on all three 30 ft high walls. In the center, there was a large round couch on a carpet where people were taking off their shoes, laying down, talking, chatting, enjoying. All around the atrium people scattered about sitting against the walls, lying on the ground and even falling asleep. It was a real urban living room.


As for the actual artwork, I was not as inspired except for one of Van Gogh’s paintings and his pre-painting ink sketches, but maybe this will come later?

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