Picture from newyorker.com
Excerpt from Paul Goldberger´s post at The Newyorker:
¨It’s hard to say what the exhibition “Paul Rudolph: Lower Manhattan Expressway,” on view until November 20th at Cooper Union and sponsored by the Drawing Center, will do to Rudolph’s reputation. Back in 1967, Rudolph was commissioned by the Ford Foundation to study the implications of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, Robert Moses’s project for a Y-shaped highway that would have tied the Holland Tunnel to the Williamsburg Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. The expressway would have destroyed much of what we now know as SoHo and Tribeca, which could not have evolved as they did had the highway been built. I am not sure it is possible to find anyone who regrets that this project never happened. (It was finally cancelled officially in 1971, after years of debate.) In 1967, presuming that the expressway was a done deal, Rudolph didn’t oppose it in the manner of Jane Jacobs, whose argument that it would have brought far more urban destruction than urban renewal ultimately carried the day. Instead, he took on the challenge of figuring out how to mitigate the highway’s impact on the city, and turn this incursion into something positive.
Picture from newyorker.com
Picture from cooper.edu
Rudolph’s idea, in effect, was to double down on the intervention, to build so much around and atop and beside it that the expressway would seem almost irrelevant. Rudolph envisioned what was, in effect, a megastructure extending all the way across Manhattan—a whole series of buildings that stretched, nearly unbroken, from river to river. Some of them straddled the expressway, others were towers arranged in clusters, and still others were in the form of slabs that Rudolph placed along the approaches to both bridges, turning them into walled corridors. He designed many of the buildings as gigantic frames to hold prefabricated apartment units that were to have been slipped into the structures. There were “people movers,” gliding along tracks connecting the buildings, and several floors of open automobile storage at the base of many of the apartment towers.
It was ridiculous in some ways, a futuristic city of the absurd. It ignored the streets, the lifeblood of New York’s urbanism, in favor what seems today like a brave new world of anti-urbanism. Rudolph himself saw this not as anti-urban, and contrasted his approach with that of Le Corbusier, who wanted to level the existing city and erect vast towers in open space¨.
Read the full article:
Paul Rudolph: Lower Manhattan Expressway
October 1 - November 20, 2010
Arthur A. Houghton Jr. Gallery, The Cooper Union
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 30, 6:00-8:00pm