MoMA Tower, a Prime Focus of Pritzker Winner Nouvel, Will Have Hearing Tomorrow

Jean Nouvel, the newly minted winner of architecture’s Pritzker Prize, will likely face some criticism of his planned 75-story apartment tower (rendering right) next to the Museum of Modern Art tomorrow afternoon, as the development proposal goes before the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission for a hearing.

Surrounding residents have criticized the tower for its out-of-scale height, and the local community board recommended against the development last month. Though in a twist uncommon to not-in-my-backyard battles, architectural enthusiasts, troubled by the community board vote, have tried to rally support for the tower, at least in cyberspace (we’ll see if they show up to the hearing tomorrow).

The Times did a profile of Mr. Nouvel yesterday and quoted his business partner as saying the French architect was focusing his energy on the MoMA tower.

An excerpt from the story:

The twisting, angular MoMA tower, says Nouvel’s business partner, Michel Pelissié, is “the most important project for him now.” Nouvel was so eager to land the deal that he urged Pelissié not to negotiate too hard on fees with the developer.

Nouvel’s next-to-MoMA scheme looks like no other high-rise in the city, but he told me, “It is a kind of archetype of what can be a skyscraper in New York.” He sees the existing architecture of a city as a record of how previous builders responded to the unique geographical and historical conditions of that place; therefore he argues that rigorous analysis, not dumb replication, is the way to design a new structure that is truly contextual. “Every architecture is an opportunity to create what I call the missing pieces of the puzzle,” he explained. “To find how you can create more poetry with the place where you are and the program you have. You research what will be the most emotional, the most perfect, the most natural.” The purpose of all the thinking, he says, is to arrive at a result that makes gut sense.

MoMA Tower, a Prime Focus of Pritzker Winner Nouvel, Will Have Hearing Tomorrow