New york architecture 3

BAA Destinations: New York

As a practice we are dedicated to research. This involves travelling around the world to discover new and different ways of designing. On this occasion we visited the big apple because we are working on an exciting project there so watch this space. 


This year we have flown pretty much everywhere from LA to New York, Moscow and more. Our architects are always journeying to unique and beautiful places. We are delighted to share our findings and tips on the best architecture to see, food to eat and destinations to explore. 


What impressed you most about the architecture?

There is so much new and exciting contemporary architecture being built adjacent to and overlooking the Highline now. In the 2 years since I was there last there seemed to be a plethora of enormous new tall buildings that had just popped up like mushrooms!  New York is not afraid of embracing dramatic new building forms like the almost complete Zaha Hadid 520 West 28th Street Condominium Residences on the highline and the nearby 59 Leonard tower by Herzog de Meuron.  It is interesting and impressive that even in historic neighbourhoods NYC is not afraid to insert modern interventions between older buildings rather than resorting to the approach in London which is often over conservative and can be limiting.

What was your favourite building or design feature?

Grand Central Station and the NYC Public library never cease to amaze with their monumental scale public spaces. I also like all of the old water towers. The highline!  Not only did it re-use an abandoned bit of old infrastructure, create pedestrian friendly green space in a dense city where there was little of it other than Central park, but also spurred on a development frenzy of new buildings around it which has injected new life into once neglected areas of the city.

What would you recommend visiting while there?

We only had 2 days to squeeze everything into but I’d recommend walking around and enjoying a stroll. The Flatiron building is always a hit and be sure to check out the Calatrava designed shopping centre at the bottom of the World Trade Centre. I wouldn’t bother with the New Whitney Gallery, it was expensive and not particularly awe inspiring!

What was the food like?

When travelling I always like to embrace the local cuisine… when in Rome (or NYC) and all that! So this time in NYC it meant good ‘ole fashioned American fast food and of course brunch (North Americans know how to do brunch!) -  having already been to Katz’s deli on previous trips that meant:

What was particularly surprising about the customs or way of life?

It seems as though people generally do not like walking in NYC to get from A to B, preferring to take the subway just a few stops, or taxis. In early morning ‘rush hour’ the wide generous pavements were almost empty! There were very few cyclists compared to how many you see on the streets of London. (I think we saw two on our 20 min walk to site from the Ace Hotel). We are working on a fit out for a large FTSE 200 company (I don’t think we can say the name!), who are consolidating 3 offices into one building. One of the main concerns from staff about the new building location revolved around the fact that one office would need to walk one more block from the subway station to get to work!!

How would you summarise your experience in a sentence?

Awesome! Coming from London which is a busy dense city with a similar population to NYC (London is nearly 9M and NYC is 8M), it is always fascinating to experience just how different the two cities are.

Photography and text courtesy of Julia Hamson and Ben Watson