I.M. Pei, R.I.P.

The British architect Sir Richard Rogers unveiled the design for the Javits Convention Center expansion Monday. It has certain elements of the defunct West Side stadium that was going to sit just a block away, and maybe bears some resemblance to the Pompidou Center in Paris for which Rogers is so famous. Here, a few slides:

The idea is to replace I.M. Pei’s dark-glass walls, which Rogers said made Javits look “more like a mausoleum than a great exhibition space.”

The unveiling was notable for other reasons: it shows that Charles Gargano, the chairman of the state-appointed Convention Center Development Corporation and Gov. Pataki’s economic development czar, is not going to pay much attention to alternatives raised by developer Douglas Durst and the Newman Real Estate Institute, which would have brought the convention center south (Durst), or would have torn it up and reconstructed it perpendicularly to the water (Newman), instead of maintaining a five-, growing to six-, block wall along the Hudson River. The development corporation’s president, Michael Petralia, said his appointment with Newman was tomorrow—which would be a little too late to influence the plan laid out today. Petralia said either alternative would require more time and money.

The other newsy tid-bit was that Gargano wants to put the convention center hotel across 11th Avenue between 35th and 36th, where a state-owned concrete plaza called Stonehenge Park is located. Doing so would disappoint developer Steve Witkoff, who had wanted to build a hotel on both Stonehenge Park and a parcel he owns across 36th Street. By using government-owned property, the corporation can apply the $150 million set aside for property acquisition to the center’s construction, which will now cost an estimated $1.7 billion, about half-a-billion more than was previously thought.

Giving away land for (presumably) free does not mean that developers won’t be asking for any subsidies, however. Once the plan is finalized, the corporation will put out an invitation to bid on the hotel—known as a Request for Proposals, in construction lingo. Glenn Johnson of Tishman Construction, a consultant for the state, said, “Any public investment required will be determined by the response to the R.F.P.”

Matthew Schuerman I.M. Pei, R.I.P.