Archive: February, 2011

diptych-a-day / subway platform


The statistics of the New York City subway system are overwhelming: divided into 21 lines, utilizing over 800 miles of trackage, and ridden an average of 5 million time on weekdays alone. NYC has the largest number of subway stations – 468 – of any public transit system in the world. Not surprisingly, the Times Square station (with multiple lines) is the busiest station, and the other station rankings can be found here.


Some “stations” like Times Square, Grand Central, Union Square, and Penn Station actually straddle multiple lines so there’s some walking required underground to transfer between the individual stops. These station “complexes” are usually swarming with people criss-crossing in every direction and make the system seem even more confusing, but I swear there is a logic to it, in most cases.

diptych-a-day / Cooper Union Academic Building


Unfortunately not a new picture from today, but I have many from the past years which are just as interesting as something I might have seen today. As many architecture students – and especially those currently at RPI – will know, this is a view of Cooper Union’s new academic building. Cooper Union was founded in 1859, is known for its arts/architecture/humanities education, and is world-famous for granting each admitted student a full tuition scholarship.


The new building, by Thom Mayne of Morphosis, is located across the street from the original Cooper Union Foundation Building, and I think it speaks to the current state of design education. Whether you’re a fan of the building or it’s not quite your style, the school takes on a presence in the East Village community. As the New York Times writes: it is “…a bold architectural statement of genuine civic value. Its lively public spaces reaffirm that enlightenment comes from the free exchange of ideas, not just inward contemplation.” The article also goes on to criticize the sizing of the stairways; I can only judge from the exterior but eventually the day will come to pose as a Cooper Union student and sneak inside.

diptych-a-day / Haier Building


I pass this building every night on the way home from work, at Broadway and 36th Street. It’s a neoclassical building with the Corinthian columns and everything, but when the sun goes down the fluorescent blue lights unexpectedly come on.


Based on this exterior appearance, you would never guess (or at least I never would) that the building is now the North American headquarters Chinese appliance manufacturer Haier. However, the building was the original Greenwich Savings Bank, built in 1922-24 by Edward Palmer York and Philip Sawyer, who had both worked for McKim, Mead & White (architects of the Boston Public Library and the National Museum of American History). In 1992, the interior and exterior became landmarked and in 2002, Haier took over ownership of the building. They even lease part of the building as an event space known as Gotham Hall – a pretty nice party place in the interior, if you ask me.


As for the blue lights? No official answer but “ocean-blue” seems to be Haier’s color of choice which appears in their uniforms, trade booths, and overall marketing. “Haier is a sea…like a sea, it has no boundaries; it is blue ambition.” And apparently a blue building in New York City.

diptych-a-day / Garment District


People love wedding dresses, people love window-shopping, and people love a good deal. So even though this may not be Kleinfeld, these designers in the Garment District are wise to advertise their wares in the window – even if that window is 25 feet above the street. While New York has the ability to offer fashions for every budget, it seems no one will turn away from year-round sample sales where designers sell overstocked or slightly imperfect merchandise. In fact, many consider sample sales to be one of New York’s “best hidden gems.” Sometimes these sales occur in the designer’s own showroom or workspace, but many times they “pop up” in warehouses or rental spaces that are temporarily vacant.


While I am not on the hunt for a wedding dress or particularly interested in high-fashion brands, I will eventually check out some of these sales because items can apparently be found at a great price – if you know the right place to look.

diptych-a-day / Freedom Tunnel


A few weeks ago we were led on an urban exploration expedition which found us at the obscure entrance to the Freedom Tunnel, located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. This is officially where Amtrak trains enter and leave the city underground, but it is also unofficially the home of street art and graffiti from various artists – the name of the tunnel actually refers to one well-known artist by the name of Chris “Freedom” Pape. In recent years, Amtrak has taken to ‘buffing‘ some of the walls reclaiming its ownership over the territory, but for now the tunnel is still a 3-mile gallery of urban artwork.

diptych-a-day / Theater District, NYC


Finding a limo parked outside of a theater is not an uncommon sight in New York City’s Theater District, which spans from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue and between 40th and 54th Streets. The area is world-famous for the 40+ theaters which house hundreds of live performances every year, but these streets weren’t the home of the first ‘Broadway shows’ – New York’s original theater district was actually located downtown along Nassau Street in the 1800s before it moved uptown when property became available and rent prices decreased.