Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Letter To I.M. Pei

Do you know what cranky New York alte cockers like me do? We write letters! I have been known to write to Mayor Bloomberg (rats, the demise of small businesses), to Chuck Schumer (universal healthcare), to American Airlines (a flight to Buenos Aires with not even a towelette), etc.
I wrote this one to distinguished architect I.M. Pei, the man who designed and built the place I live in:

Dear Mr. Pei:

I live in one of your Silver Towers. I have been enjoying my spacious and bright apartment here since 1992. As I’m sure you are aware, NYU is planning to build a 400-feet high hotel tower on the superblock site of your towers. This building will strongly affect what I think is your lasting legacy, which is the lovely harmony of the towers as they stand today, but most importantly, the open communal spirit of the plaza that anchors the towers.  I wish you could see what goes on on our plaza every day. Children play, elderly neighbors huddle together to catch the sun, people have lunch alfresco: it’s a wonderful public space, with an expansive sense of openess, a unique luxury in a city like New York. It is now being threatened by the forced inclusion of a fourth tower in an area that is already quite densely populated.   
So many of us live in the Silver Towers and yet the plaza is never too noisy or too busy. It’s an incredibly civilized urban space, where people come together. Bring in a hotel in the entrance to the plaza and part of the open and spacious spirit of the plaza would be lost.
Since NYU’s expansion plan began, I have been impressed by our community’s efforts to preserve the superblock as it is. It got landmark status, but this does not seem to deter NYU. I am an amateur lover of architecture and I know cities must change and new buildings must arise (as they did in 1960 when you built these towers). But I truly believe that squeezing in a fourth tower here would destroy the wonderful harmony of the space you designed and would impoverish the quality of life of its residents.
If you have any say in the matter, I respectfully urge you to consider the lives of the neighbors that are enriched day by day by the graceful and unique place we live in. This hotel can be built somewhere else.


The Grande Enchilada.
(trying to do my part).

1 comment:

  1. Sheesh! Do they teach architecture at NYU anymore? The university needs another new tower downtown, about as much as Obama needs more Republicans in the Senate. I am not against expansion. I love new, well-designed buildings. But, what happened to the sanctity of space within an architectural environment? What's next---a dorm in the Seagram Building's front plaza?