Architectural NY: a look at the history of the city through its buildings lifestyle
After the recent announcement of the expansion of the Porcelanosa flagship store in New York, we look back to rebuild the architectural history of Manhattan. From the creation of the first skyscraper to the latest trends which turn towards green architecture.
Rafael Moneo, Pritzker Award 1996, claims that “change, continuous intervention, is the fate of architecture”. In his book: The life of buildings; he reminds us that ‘buildings move over time and they are diverse in every moment. Time gravitates over them, they move with it inevitably. They are not strictly what they were and we are obliged to accept that their lives involve continuous change’.
19th century USA. The fires which ravaged the city of Chicago in 1871 led architects and engineers to thinking of a new way of urban planning. New building solutions like the partitioned vault by the Spaniard, Rafael Guastavino emerged; and new materials like iron, and later, steel gave rise to the first skyscrapers, the city’s greatest architectural emblem.
The first skyscraper in New York was the New York Tribune Building designed by Richard Morris in 1875, reaching 78m in height. From those first skyscrapers, New Yorkers’ way of thinking changed to vertical, thanks also to the invention of the elevator and the advances in steel. In Manhattan, an island surrounded by water, new possibilities were opened for the use of space. Impressive buildings such as the Flatiron Building by Daniel Burnham in 1902 or the neo-Gothic Woolworth Building by Cass Gilbert in 1913 emerged. They would define the New York City skyline.
However, the history of skyscrapers was also undergoing trend changes, motivated by the influence of buildings on people’s lives. In 1916, the Zoning Law was approved, forcing architects to adapt the height of the buildings according to the size of the plot. The consequence: safety; as well as the vertiginous rise of buildings prevented the light from reaching the ground. This new Law resulted in the building of pyramidal buildings, such as the iconic Empire State Building or the Seagram Building by Mies Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson in 1958. The evolution of architecture in New York was also defined by changes in trends and the architectural styles of the moment: from the organic architecture of the Prairie School by Frank Lloyd Wright to the Art Deco of the 20s, with symbols such as the Empire State itself, the Chrysler Building or the Chanin Building.
Subsequently, new movements were modelling the New York sky, such as the international style or the influence of the Bauhaus School, which fled from Nazi Germany to build New York’s architectural silhouette. Postmodernism came next in the 70s and 80s giving the city absolute gems such as Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera or the National Gallery of Art.
The start of the 21st century was, again, a turning point as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The symbology and safety of the buildings was once again questioned. New ecological requirements would appear, and they would give rise to the strong commitment to green architecture and energy efficiency, as well as the introduction of information technology as a new way of revolutionising architecture. Thus, green buildings emerged, like the 7 World Trade Center in New York which maximises the use of natural light and the use of recycled materials; or the US Green Building Council.
In this period and until today, we also reflect on the refurbishment of business centres and degraded intermediate neighbourhoods. The is how the most conservationist trend came about and the thought of banking on restoration and conservation to give architecture a new use. The legacy of the heritage safeguarding is inherited from the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence, in 1976, but it has become stronger than ever throughout this new millennium, in such a way that institutions like the Historic New England depend on that preservation being fulfilled.
About Porcelanosa’s flagship
Complying with the law of preservation of the historical buildings and the heritage of Manhattan, PORCELANOSA Grupo arrived in the Big Apple in 2015 giving a new use to the iconic Commodore Criterion building designed in 1918 by architects Ely Jacques Kahn and Albert Buchman in front of Madison Square Garden and the Flatiron. The company opted for the renowned Foster + Partners studio which restored the facade of the Commodore Criterion returning its original look and giving the building a new life. The project has opted for sustainability, paying maximum attention to maximising the building’s energy efficiency and opting for the LEED Gold certification.
Three years after its inauguration, Porcelanosa expands its facilities up to 2.516m2 with the acquisition of the adjoining building.
Porcelanosa Flagship Store NY
202 5th Ave, New York, NY 10010, USA.
About the illustration by courtesy of Michael Storrings
The work of Michael Storrings captures the special essence of the passage of time in New York City through his series of illustrations: Art that Celebrates.
Today, the artist is the Creative Director at St. Martin’s Press (Macmillan), where he designed covers for best-sellers, namely: Kristin Hannah, Mary Kay Andrews, Jackie Collins, Emily Giffin, Bernie Sanders, Bob Harper, the Kardashians, Daisy Goodwin, Ian K. Smith, Jeffrey Archer, Tatiana de Rosnay, and Lisa Scottoline.
Among his publications, there are books such as ‘A Very New York Christmas’, ‘The 12 Days of Christmas in New York’, ‘New York in Four Seasons’, and ‘Seasons of New York Colouring Book’, and exclusive editions for Bergdorf Goodman , Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales (‘A Magical Night Before Christmas’). He also illustrated ‘The Three Gifts’ for Kathie Lee Gifford and ‘The Christmas Journey’ for author Donna Van Liere of the New York Times. Michael Storrings has picked up awards from the American Institute of Graphic Artists, Art Directors Club, the Society of Illustrators, Print Magazine, and the New York Book Show. Índice
Among his publications, there are books such as ‘A Very New York Christmas’, ‘The 12 Days of Christmas in New York’, ‘New York in Four Seasons’, and ‘Seasons of New York Colouring Book’, and exclusive editions for Bergdorf Goodman , Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales (‘A Magical Night Before Christmas’). He also illustrated ‘The Three Gifts’ for Kathie Lee Gifford and ‘The Christmas Journey’ for author Donna Van Liere of the New York Times.
Michael Storrings has picked up awards from the American Institute of Graphic Artists, Art Directors Club, the Society of Illustrators, Print Magazine, and the New York Book Show.