Lunchtime Face-Off

Even without Tom Wolfe railing against the proletariat-loving purveyors of International Style, today’s event at the Center for Architecture presented an up close battle of ideas over what to do with Edward Durrell Stone’s iconic structure.

Sign-waving, brown-bag protestors paced the sidewalk, while in a sleek, downstairs auditorium, architect Brad Cloepfil gave the first public presentation of the much-debated 2 Columbus Circle design. Rick Bell restated the position of the A.I.A., that the case should not be brought before the Landmarks Commission. And despite a recent appeal, time is running out for Landmarks West, as construction is slated to begin in the next few weeks.

“We’re taking something that has been dead, and bringing it back to life,” said Mr. Cloephil who criticized Stone’s design as representing a “moment in style,” but not a pivotal work. Elsewhere inside the Center for Architecture, placards described the building in its current state as “a private, idiosyncratic folly.” Outside, the point was raised to preserve the façade, while bringing in light from the back of the building. However, when The Real Estate raised this possibility, Mr. Cloepfil was nonplussed, stating that he could not think of anything that would “show less faith in contemporary architecture.” Of course, you’ve gotta have faith.

-Matthew Grace and Michael Calderone