Friday, June 11, 2004

Two Columbus Circle: Do the Wright Thing

According to yesterday's New York Times ("Guggenheim Reviving Its Main Asset: Itself" by Carol Vogel - see it here), architect Frank Lloyd Wright's iconic, once-controversial design forthe Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (Fifth Avenue at 88th Street) is about to get a "facelift."

Don't panic! Unlike Edward Durell Stone's 2 Columbus Circle , the Guggenheim is a designated NYC Landmark. Moreover, Guggenheim director Thomas Krens says, "The care and preservation of the Frank Lloyd Wright building has been a priority for us." A board member calls the structure "the most important piece of art in the collection."

Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim attracted huge crowds and much controversy over its design when it opened in 1959. Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim needs a little TLC (as do most half-century-old buildings). Like 2 Columbus Circle, the Guggenheim is a provocative building designed by a mid-century Modern master specifically to house a museum - therefore, like 2 Columbus Circle, the structure is almost windowless.

In a statement calling for the preservation of 2 Columbus Circle, architect and historian Robert A.M. Stern wrote: "No one will disagree that Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum is a masterpiece, though a highly idiosyncratic one to say the least....[T]here was a strong, mutually acknowledged kinship between Frank Lloyd Wright and Edward Durell Stone, whom many thought was the master's leading disciple. Ed Stone was a very important architect and that the Gallery of Modern Art is one of his masterworks. The value of Stone's work is only now coming to be re-appreciated."

***Go to and click on "Get Involved" to send Mayor Bloomberg, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the Museum of Arts and Design email "postcards" telling them to do the Wright thing ! Where there's a will, there's a way!

Friday, June 4, 2004

Two Columbus Circle - The Next Ladies Mile?

More headlines for the Lollipop Building (a.k.a. 2 Columbus Circle)!

In her article in yesterday's New York Times (see below), columnist Joyce Purnick took her second shot at architect Edward DurellStone's plucky, portholed building . She portrays the structure's would-be destroyer, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), as the victim of lawsuits and public outcry that may ultimately scare them away. Preservationists, she suggests, would have blood on their hands.

MAD's lack of vision for 2 Columbus Circlehas always beendisturbing. Even more astonishing is Purnick's short - or selective - memory. Does she forget the 1986 New York Times editorial that championed the preservation efforts of a small group called the Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile, calling them "the best friends a neighborhood can have"? Back then, the Real Estate Board of NY responded swiftly with a letter to the Timeseditor claiming that creating the Ladies' Mile Historic District would have a "chilling effect" on renovations in the area. Today, Ladies' Mile is one of the city's most vibrant shopping districts - its historic architecture still happily intact, proving that time and rational consideration are often the friends of preservation and revitalization.

In short,Ladies' Milehas come full circle. Mayor Bloomberg and his landmarks commission would do New York a huge service by giving 2 Columbus Circle the chance to follow suit.

Don't let Purnick have the last word! We're writing letters to the Times editor, and so should you! Give them a piece of your mind by e-mailing . Then, visit and also send your message to Mayor Bloomberg, Landmarks chair Robert B. Tierney, and MAD director Holly Hotchner. Only asmall number of New Yorkers care about saving 2 Columbus Circle? Prove them wrong!

To read the Joyce Purnick article, click here.