The latest news on New York architecture.

  • A Jewel Box for Translucent Treasures

    A Jewel Box for Translucent Treasures

    Michael Bodycomb/The Frick Collection
    White Gold: Highlights From the Arnhold Collection of Meissen Porcelain is the inaugural exhibition in the Frick Collection's newly enclosed Portico Gallery.
    By KEN JOHNSON Published: December 15, 2011
    In light of the glass-box atrium plugged into the J. P. Morgan Library & Museum a few years ago, New York cultural custodians might have been understandably alarmed to learn of plans for architectural intervention at another great institution of Gilded Age ancestry. They need not have worried. The Frick Collection’s transformation of an outdoor colonnade into an indoor exhibition space, now called the Portico Gallery, is as subtly noninvasive as the Morgan’s addition is conspicuously anachronistic. This is admittedly an unfair comparison: the Frick’s new gallery is not a central thoroughfare but a lateral cul-de-sac that will be used for rotating displays of decorative arts and sculpture. From the outside the only visible change to the portico, which faces south over the Fifth Avenue Garden, are floor-to-ceiling windows, minimally framed in bronze, inserted between the columns. Though just 815 square feet, the space feels much more expansive and airy than it really is. French doors closing in the small rotunda at the end of the portico look as if they had always been there, and so does a life-size statue of a nude Diana, frozen in midstride on one foot, beautifully modeled in terra cotta between 1776 and 1795 by the French neo-Classical sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. She has recently been cleaned and is back on view after a three-year absence. Elevated on a waist-high pedestal, she seems to gaze over the traffic on Fifth Avenue with divine disregard for mere human reality. All this was designed and carried out by the architecture firm Davis Brody Bond. Read more

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  • Concourse Plaza Hotel and Union League Club receive individual Landmarks status.

    NEW YORK CITY LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION Robert B. Tierney Chairman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011 No. 11-12 GRAND CONCOURSE HISTORIC DISTRICT AND FOUR INDIVIDUAL LANDMARKS PROTECTED Another noteworthy building from the earlier stage of the district’s development is the Concourse Plaza Hotel at 900 Grand Concourse between East 161st and 162nd streets. Built in 1923, the same year as nearby Yankee Stadium, the 11-story Colonial Revival style hotel drew such distinguished guests and visitors as Yankees greats Babe Ruth, Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle and presidential candidates Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy. “The buildings in the district were so solidly built that they emerged from a period of neglect largely unscathed, and still retain many of the fine architectural details that first attracted residents to the Grand Concourse in the 1920s and 1930s,” said Chairman Tierney. “This is a great day for the Bronx.” Union League Club, 38 East 37th Street at Park Avenue The nine-story, brick-faced clubhouse, located at the southwest corner of 37th Street and Park Avenue, was completed in 1931 and combines elements of the 18th century Federal and Georgian styles of architecture. It was designed by (Benjamin Wistar) Morris & (Robert Barnard) O’Connor. Prior to establishing the firm, Morris received a number of significant commissions, including the annex to the Morgan Library, the Cunard Building and the Bank of New York & Trust Company building at 48 Wall St. Originally located in a former residence on the north side of Union Square in Manhattan, the Union League Club was founded in 1863 to support the United States and the Republican Party. During the Civil War, the club organized the first black regiment in New York State and its members later played a significant role in establishing the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It also was one of the first social clubs in New York City to welcome women. The club’s current site was assembled by prominent Murray Hill families who wanted to maintain neighborhood’s residential character, and sold the property with restrictions dictating the size of buildings could be constructed there. The 37th Street façade of the club incorporates a curved, double height entrance pavilion and oversized Palladian style windows, and a central pediment that frames a cartouche with club’s initials. A lintel decorated with four female faces surmounts the wood doors of a second entrance on Park Avenue. Women gained full membership privileges in 1988, and Democrats were permitted to join in 1937. “After 80 years, the Union League Club remains a stately gem on a tranquil corner of Murray Hill,” said Chairman Tierney.

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