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Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures The Architecture and Development of New York City with Andrew S. Dolkart
image The Skyscraper City The New Millennium
Times Square
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The New Millennium
Times Square
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In the latter part of the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s there was an economic downturn and there was very little skyscraper construction. So many buildings had been erected in the 1960s and early 1970s that there was a glut of office space. It was not until the second half of the 1990s that office-building construction really picked up again. And a lot of the new buildings center on Times Square, where there was a major push to clean up and redevelop the area with office buildings. There are attempts again not only to work with both modernism and modern ideas, to use new materials and to use glass in innovative ways, but also to try to capture the dynamism of the city—something that had been a very important part of the architecture of the late 1920s during the art-deco period. This is very evident at the Condé Nast Building, which was designed by the architectural firm of Fox and Fowle, on the corner of Forty-second Street and Broadway. The building reflects on the hybrid character of New York. New York is a city with sedate business areas and dynamic entertainment areas, and the east façade of the Condé Nast Building, which faces Fifth Avenue and the Grand Central Terminal, where lots of office buildings are located, is very calm. There is a rhythm of windows and there is not a lot of applied ornament. But then you get to the side that faces Times Square. It is a riot of light and advertising and a reflection of the popular culture, which created the dynamic spirit of Times Square. So you have lighted signs, you have a curving fašade, you have lots of different materials almost clashing with one another on the design. This is evident during the day and even more evident at night, when signs like the NASDAQ sign are lit up and the building almost appears to be taking off like a rocket ship. And this idea of the hybrid, dynamic quality of New York and the fractured quality of life in the city is that as you move through the city, you are constantly experiencing different environments and seeing different kinds of people, and there is a rush to move through the city.

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