Sep 112016


Looking up inside the Oculus (while others look down)

A few photos from a trip to the 9/11 Memorial, the One World Trade Center tower, and the Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation hub. Although shot in late August, it is fitting that I’m posting these now, on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11.

Yellow Rose for Christine Lee Hanson

Fountain at Ground Zero

And here are some additional photos of the Oculus and surrounding buildings, including One World Trade Center:

Oculus and One World Trade Center
Oculus and One World Trade Center

Outside Oculus
Outside the Oculus

Oculus wrap
Oculus Wrap

Oculus curve
Oculus Curve

Designed by renown Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the Oculus and World Trade Center station took 12 years to build and $4 billion in public funds– the most expensive train center ever.

As the New York Times noted, “Calatrava’s original soaring spike design was scaled back because of security issues. In the name of security, Santiago Calatrava’s bird has grown a beak. Its ribs have doubled in number and its wings have lost their interstices of glass…. [T]he main transit hall, between Church and Greenwich Streets, will almost certainly lose some of its delicate quality, while gaining structural expressiveness. It may now evoke a slender stegosaurus more than it does a bird.”

The compromised design and enormous cost of the project led to an ongoing controversy, summarized by wikipedia, with a few quotes:

Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post described the station in 2014 as it was being built as “a self-indulgent monstrosity” and “a hideous waste of public money”. Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, referred to the structure as “a kitsch stegosaurus”. New York magazine referred to it in 2015 as it neared completion as a “Glorious Boondoggle.”

I more or less agree with the criticism, especially given the massive cost and fact that so much of the station interior is made up of high-end shops.  But is was fun to photograph.

9/11 Memorial
9/11 Memorial

The full set may be seen here, on Flickr


Sep 092016


Highline Flowers
High Line Flowers

I took a stroll on the High Line on a cloudy August day after a week on Fire Island. The High Line is an urban greenway — a former elevated freight rail line transformed into a park and trail that runs from the West Village and Meatpacking District through Chelsea, ending beyond Penn Station.

Highline (on a curve)
High Line on a Curve

Note the funky sculpture in front of a newish apartment building on the High Line, juxtaposed with some old school graffiti and a dramatic piece political art (more on that below). Funky Chelsea buts heads with the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and new construction along the High Line. (Or, perhaps more accurately: new, high end gentrification on top of and alongside previous, lower rent (relatively speaking) Chelsea gentrification).

Blind Idealism is Deadly
Blind Idealism is Reactionary Scary Deadly

“Blind Idealism is . . .” by renowned artist Barbara Kruger, commissioned by Friends of the High Line.

Kruger is an American artist known for “insistently addressing the issues of power, property, money, race, and sexuality. Over the past three decades her work has ranged from the photographic merging of image and text, to immersive video installations, to room-wrapping textual exhibitions, to large-scale outdoor displays of words and images. Two of her best-known works – Your body is a battleground and I shop therefore I am – also showcase the feminist overtones of her artworks, and her concentration on women as a lucrative site for advertising and consumerism.

The original quote — “Blind idealism is reactionary” — came from Afro-Caribbean philosopher and postcolonial revolutionary thinker Frantz Fanon (1925–61), whom Kruger describes as “prescient in some ways.”

High Line Follage (with Empire State Building)
High Line Follage (and Empire State of mind)

Highline yawn
High Line Yawn

The full set, along with some winter High Line photos from a few years ago, may be seen here.