July 09, 2012

Architectural Empire State of Mind (Part II)

Stayed around the Lower East Side!

 It was a bit intimidating at first arriving in New York City...after all, as soon as I arrived at Port Authority, an old man was pretty forward in helping me get a pass and eventually asked me to give him some change, some other guy was trying to sell me his MTA pass, and people were just using the subway station emergency exits and sounding the emergency alarm very nonchalant. On my first subway train to where I would be staying, a homeless person just stands up and gave a speech asking for any donations. Along with feeling socially retarded being the only one yielding to the pedestrian light signals, I realized I am not in a city like Toronto.

Parsons the New School for Design

Higgins Hall - Pratt Institute School of Architecture

I had to schedule some time to check out the graduate schools that I have taken interest in - the graduate schools I dare to ambitiously aim for. (Canadian grad school tuition is greatly less than the cost of American schools...especially for a prospective international student like me). There were moments of walking great distances because I got lost...my trip to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn definitely involved alot of running through Brooklyn’s downtown and red brick neighbourhoods, and sprinting as the time started ticking towards the 10am tour that I booked with admissions. It was cool to see the work at Parsons The New School for Design along with the various buildings they have in their part of Manhattan. It was refreshing to see other architecture schools besides my own alma mater. I got to see a bit of student work and I got a chance to take a look at the facilities that they had. Alot of these schools had spacious studios, large modelling shops, multiple computer labs, laser cutters, 3d printers, security booths. NYC is legit!

The next few days of my trip was a mix of the exhilarating and at the same time exhausting. I thought I can walk long distances, but I never knew that I couldn't. There's so much to see, and to get from place to place, I just chose to walk it for the most bit. I was able to check out the waterfront projects and the highline with the help of a good friend named Ruben. It demanded (what i'd like to call it) the Warrior Walk along the shores of Brooklyn and Manhattan, but it was great to see how this city is going to great lengths in redefining it`s old piers and infrastructure in the name of public space. I saw amenities for children – playgrounds I wish I got a chance to play in when I was little. I saw miles and miles of walkways and promenades for tourists and citizens to enjoy, accompanied with cafes, foodstands, parks, fountains, follies, boats, and on and on. My walk along the shore line consisted of the piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the west shore line of NYC city, starting south at Battery Park and trekking upwards.

Upon midway up Manhattan, we switched to one of the newest parks on the island, the High Line by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which is an interesting spin on the park typology as an old railway line is converted into an oasis elevated away from the hustle and bustle of New York`s streets. This is definitely a relaxing spot to take a date, chill with friends, or just walk around to get away from the excessive noise of traffic. There are interesting spots as you walk along the path. You go under and through buildings, you can sit in an amphitheatre framed towards the street and feel as if you are a bird perched above, you can sit on these benches that move along the remaining existing tracks of the railway. There`s also those cool seats you would find from the urban design work Diller Scofidio + Renfro, creating flexible furniture that transitions from ground to floor and vice versa. Temporary Installations are situated along the length of the highline. Condo towers flank the highline, but you can tell that a lot of the units near the walking level of the promenade are left unoccupied...you have to be quite free spirited and comfortable to show yourself off if you want to live there.

I am excited to come back to NYC in the future as there is a planned third phase to the HighLine, an extensive network of parks to be completed along Manhattan and Brooklyn, as well as the completion of the World Trade Center memorial complex (I was able to take a peak, but not able to get into the memorial as you need to book tickets for that). These are just some of the places you need to definitely check out when you visit this city.

No comments:

Post a Comment