Here's an excerpt from Justin Davidson's essay titled "Shiny, Alluring, Ugly, Visionary, Inspiring, Incomplete."
The present, however, hasn’t always gone so smoothly. For an irresistible city, New York can be awfully ugly. Ghastly glass towers have laid waste to entire neighborhoods, and sharklike chain stores have swallowed small businesses. The once-derelict industrial zone along the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront metamorphosed into a new, high-density neighborhood, which would’ve been great, except that the change resulted in a phalanx of big ungainly buildings with a paltry, broken strip of greenery out front. The permissive rezoning of Brooklyn’s Fourth Avenue, too, produced buildings of such slipshod “luxury” that the Wall Street Journal columnist Robbie Whelan called it a “canyon of mediocrity.”
Why did so much terrible stuff get built? The answer is that bad, overpriced buildings are the price of civic ambition. In lean times, most architecture is crap because only what is cheap gets built; in better times, most architecture is crap because developers can’t wait to start cashing in. Bloomberg made New York safe for high-quality design — and at the same time triggered a plague of prosperous awfulness. As long as the city remains attractive, there will always be money in ruining it.
[Bloomy photo via]