That’s what Gregg Pasquarelli, the SHoP principal told us last night, at a party on the pier, part ribbon cutting (even though the thing opened last fall) part book launch (even though that came out three months ago). Really, this is one of the hottest firms in town, so whenever an opportunity presents itself to drink and party, it is taken.
As The Observer was leaving, Mr. Pasquarelli grabbed our arm and pointed out to the FDR, the underside of which glowed a faint purple.
“You’ve got to take your wife out there, I promise she’s going to kiss you,” he said. “It happens to everyone.”
Does a developer have any obligation to undo the ills of the past?
That was the rather existential debate that took place at the Landmarks Preservation Commission earlier this month, as commissioners debated the merits of a proposal to transform Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport. While the designs by SHoP Architects were roundly applauded, and ultimately won unanimous approval, many commissioners lamented the fact that the current mall was being replaced with a new one, rather than something less commercial or even nothing at all, just a wide-open public pier.
“There’s lots of proof in Manhattan that a shopping mall never works, but nevertheless, there’s a developer who insists they have the right formula for this shopping mall to finally work, so I guess within the context of that, then the question really is—is the architecture appropriate for the Seaport?” commissioner Margery Perlmutter said.
Commissioner Fred Bland felt so strongly about the issue, including the destruction of the notable-for-its-time Ben Thompson-designed mall, that he had composed his comments earlier that day, something he said had only happened twice before in his four years on the commission (for St. Vincent’s and “for the infamous mosque”).
Over the past two decades, SHoP Architects has succeeded through unconventional means. The downtown firm has invested in its own projects to ensure creative control, and not a little profit. It has partnered with manufacturers to create cutting-edge materials for its buildings. It has designed some of the more striking projects in the city, from the Porter House in the Meatpacking District to the East River Esplanade stretching from the Battery to the Upper East Side.
Now, looking to expand its practice beyond unconventional buildings into unconventional cities, SHoP has added a new partner to the firm, professor skyscraper Vishaan Chakrabarti. Chair of Columbia’s real estate development program, the Center for Urban Real Estate, Mr. Chakrabarti has helped transform the way many New Yorkers think about their city and others, and now he wants to get back in on the act of building them.
“SHoP reinvented the practice of architecture, and with my coming here, we’re going to reinvent urbanism,” Mr. Chakrabarti said in an interview this morning. “It’s about how a building meets the city, how it meets the grid, the transit system, public space, basically how a building meets the world.”
“We understand more than anyone else on the job site,” Gregg Pasquarelli told a second-floor conference room one recent Thursday evening inside the New School’s Arnhold Hall.
His audience peered at him through a remarkable selection of eyewear—surely the most impressive array of cantilevers, arches and trusswork west of the East River. “We truly do,” Read More
An Arena Grows in Brooklyn
Forest City Ratner has unveiled a new public plaza for its Brooklyn arena. Nevermind that in a few years there will be a huge office building sitting on top of it.
Location: How big are you guys now?
Mr. Pasquarelli: We’re 60-something people—a 65-person firm, which is a little smaller than we were a year ago, but we’ve been stable. We were probably 80 at the top.
What’s the breakdown of work? You’re a principal and you have four co-principals?
There Read More
Nearly three years after receiving a green light from the state government, the mega-Atlantic Yards development is entering a critical stage, as developer Bruce Ratner is rushing to secure financing and tie up loose ends before an end-of-year tax deadline.
On Wednesday, in releasing renderings of a trimmed-down, redesigned arena, Mr. Ratner said he Read More
After dropping famed architect Frank Gehry from the Nets basketball arena planned for Brooklyn, the developer of the massive mixed-use project has brought in New York-based architecture firm SHoP to assist in the design of the venue, according to a person informed of the decision.
The developer, Forest City Ratner, plans to Read More