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Thread: Gaudi Tower at WTC Site?

  1. #1
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Gaudi Tower at WTC Site?

    New York Times
    January 21, 2003
    Postmodern? In a Manner of Speaking

    Sketches, begun in 1908 by Antoni Gaudí, above, for a hotel in Manhattan that would then have been the world's tallest building, still exist.

    Halt the competition. Yet another world-class architect has created yet another design for ground zero. It is futuristic in the extreme, nearly as tall as the Empire State Building, topped with a star and polychromed in tile and marble. And it resembles nothing so much as a stalagmite — or a Buck Rogers rocket ship.

    The architect? Antoni Gaudí, the Barcelona visionary who was the greatest Spanish exponent of the Art Nouveau style. And the plan, for a New York hotel, was conceived in 1908.

    A group of Catalan artists and an American architect intend to enter the never-realized Gaudí plan in the formal ground zero memorial design competition of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, scheduled to begin this spring.

    For some of them make the extraordinary claim that the hotel was intended not only to be built in Manhattan early in the last century, but specifically at the very site where the World Trade Center was eventually built a half-century later.

    "If they only knew about this building, the people of New York would come to love it," said Marc Mascort i Boix, an artist who is co-editor of the Barcelona magazine Rojo and director of a team that has made computer models of the Gaudí building. "Bringing this to New York would be more important than the Olympic Games."

    He will present Gaudí's hotel plan at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on Thursday at 6 p.m.

    Paul Laffoley, an American artist and architect based in Boston, has mounted a separate homegrown effort to win consideration for the Gaudí hotel at ground zero, and he plans to submit the project to the development corporation in April. "It is a prime example of posthumous architecture," he said.

    Mr. Mascort thinks that the hotel's great hall could be adapted to a memorial for the victims of the terrorist attacks, "and could help the city to heal."

    But the Gaudí boosters are flexible about the building's use — as a hotel or a museum or an office complex — and allow that "the building could be downtown, or on Fifth Avenue, or on Central Park West," Mr. Mascort said. "The main concept is to get together the different cultures of the planet under a common dome."

    The cultified Gaudí was celebrated with a rich calendar of events last year when Barcelona declared the 150th anniversary of his birth the Year of Gaudí. The hotel design, which was the subject of one of the exhibitions, has elements of two of Gaudí's Barcelona masterpieces, the exuberant 330-foot-high Sagrada Familia church and the undulating Casa Mila apartment house.

    If the hotel had been built, it would have been 1,181 feet to the top of its star, the world's tallest building. (The Empire State Building, at 1,250 feet, would then have claimed the title when it was completed in 1931.)

    Gaudí's studio and files were destroyed by fire in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. But Prof. Juan Bassegoda i Nonell, curator of the Real Catedra Gaudí at the University of Barcelona, the state entity for Gaudí study, said that seven small original Gaudí pencil sketches of the American hotel have survived.

    They were in a large Gaudí collection that the professor acquired for the university in 1971 from Juan Matamala y Flotats, a sculptor and artist who had served as Gaudí's assistant. The Gaudí works came from his father, Lorenzo Matamala y Pinyol, the principal model-maker and sculptor for the Sagrada Familia.

    Professor Bassegoda said that Juan Matamala, who would have been working in the Gaudí studio as a teenager in 1908, wrote a 64-page monograph in 1956, "describing the hotel project and making 10 additional drawings based on memories of what he had seen in 1908." Although there is little independent corroboration of Matamala's monograph, Professor Bassegoda, 72, said that "for 40 years I have been studying Gaudí's works, and I am sure the drawings are authentic."

    Although the project is described as a hotel, its central plan resembles a Brobdingnagian catering hall-cum-convention center, an all-purpose tourist attraction. Thus its name, remembered by Matamala as the Hotel Attraction.

    Gaudí had planned something typically gaudy: like some of his works in Barcelona, the hotel was to have been rainbow-hued in tile and marble. The hotel would have been a group of clustered towers, of reinforced concrete over steel, in Gaudí's sturdy trademark parabolic shapes that also animate the 330-foot-tall Sagrada Familia. The hotel's 360-foot-by-360-foot ground floor was to contain a titanic reception hall, surrounded by large saloons connected to a clutch of outbuildings and towers containing meeting rooms, apartments and hotel rooms.

    In the central tower there were to be five monumental dining rooms dedicated to five continents; each was to seat 400.

    Yet another dining room on the sixth floor was to be topped by an exhibition hall, and above that was planned a theater and conference room.

    Atop that was to be a cathedral-like 375-foot-high space honoring all the American presidents, in a hall decorated with stained glass windows, mosaics and frescos.

    The starlike top, which Matamala said was called the sphere of all space, would have afforded a panoramic view for up to 30 tourists at a time.

    Gaudí designed the hotel after two American business executives came to see him in May 1908, Professor Bassegoda said; they stayed for two or three weeks. Subsequently Gaudí worked on the project from 1908 to 1911.

    But Matamala did not know the names of the Americans. "I searched in the passenger lists of ocean liners at that time, but couldn't discover who the Americans were," Professor Bassegoda said.

    One conceivable candidate was William Gibbs McAdoo, president of the New York and Jersey Railroad Company, who built what is now known as the PATH tube system threading through ground zero. He developed real estate in Lower Manhattan and built the Hudson Terminal Buildings at Church and Cortlandt Streets.

    But his collected papers at the Huntington Library in San Marino, Calif., make no mention of the project. "The American visitors could have been speculators who didn't own the land," Mr. Laffoley suggested, "and perhaps they never could get the project together."

    Matamala did not say why the hotel idea was dropped. Nor did the Matamala monograph say precisely where the hotel was to be built. "It says in New York," Professor Bassegoda said.

    Mr. Laffoley said he first learned about the Gaudí American hotel project — and its Lower Manhattan location — as an undergraduate in the late 1950's at Brown University, in courses taught by William H. Jordy, an architectural historian.

    Professor Jordy's lectures presented detailed information about the hotel and its location in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Laffoley said. And then, in the early 1960's, Mr. Laffoley was working in the Manhattan design group of Emery Roth & Sons, doing blueprints of floor plans and elevator banks for 2 World Trade Center for Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, the trade center's chief architect. When Mr. Laffoley told Professor Jordy about his job, he recalled, "Jordy said, `What a coincidence. That's the plot of land where they were going to build the Gaudí hotel.' "

    Professor Bassegoda did not publish the Matamala monograph until 1989, but Matamala seems to have shared his knowledge about the hotel project with several people. A book published in English as "Gaudí the Visionary" in 1969, by Robert Descharnes and Clovis Prévost, included a chapter on the American hotel.

    "I have to imagine that Matamala shared his information with Jordy, or with someone who gave it to Jordy," Mr. Laffoley said.

    The notion that the hotel could have been meant for the trade center site has given rise to a campaign in both Spain and the United States to put up a Gaudí-inspired building in New York.

    Professor Bassegoda said that the existing sketches were sufficient to go ahead. "The description is very complete," he said, adding: "with these drawings, an architect could do the project."

    Mr. Laffoley believes that adopting a Gaudí-inspired plan might head off architectural squabbling, "since, instead of competing, everyone could acknowledge that Gaudí is a master and collaborate on realizing Gaudí's dream."

    If the hotel's modernistic shape may be a tough sell for New Yorkers who haven't seen the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Mr. Laffoley said, "remember that people in Bilbao loved the futuristic shape of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum."

    "The Sagrada Familia has become the symbol of Barcelona," he added, "and Gaudí meant his hotel to be the symbol of New York."

    So far, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is arms-length toward the Gaudí proposals. Although the Catalan architects sent a description of the Gaudí plan last summer and said they received a welcoming response signed by Alexander Garvin, the vice president for planning, design and development, in an interview Mr. Garvin said that he was not aware of the Gaudí plans and declined to comment on them.

    Olvido Salazar-Alonso, cultural director of the Instituto Cervantes, the Spanish government educational organization that is a co-sponsor of Thursday's presentation, said that, in the end, the hotel project is "an important Gaudí link with the city."

    "But to put Gaudí and Manhattan together?" she asked. "Only a specialist could say whether it would work."

    If the hotel designed by Antoni Gaudí were built on the site of the World Trade Center, it would dominate the Lower Manhattan skyline, as this collage prepared by an architect who wants to see it built there shows. The building's design is reminiscent of a Buck Rogers rocket ship.

  2. #2

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    That would be inappropriate.
    A mountain-like building ? I don't think so.

  3. #3
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    It's not tall enough either.

    It is an intriguing building though. Strange it was meant for the WTC site to begin with.

  4. #4

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Embarrasment. In typical Gaudi style it looks like a mound of shit. This is not architecture, its disturbing sculpture at best.

  5. #5

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Quote: from NYatKNIGHT on 2:33 pm on Jan. 21, 2003
    It's not tall enough either.
    I censored myself.

  6. #6

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Gaudi is probably my favorite historical architect. *I would love to see something by him in New York. *Unfortunately, this particular building indeed way too reminiscent of a rocketship (not that rocketships were around in 1908), and is definitely inappropriate for the WTC. *I would still like to see it built elsewhere in NY, though.

  7. #7

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    I'm always thinking of the other boroughs.
    They need a landmark skyscraper.

  8. #8

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    The two tallest towers in the Bronx (Marcy?) look like giant sand castles too.
    Last edited by Kris; October 4th, 2009 at 10:57 AM.

  9. #9

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    the two towers in the Bronx are called Tracy Towers, i went to Bronx Science which is down the block from them.

  10. #10

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Another drawing

    the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is arms-length...

  11. #11

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    I think that this design is just.... horrible. This is what they though the buildings would look like in the year 2000 because then in 1908 these buildings seemed futuristic, but this is just a thing. I the people didn't like the other desings why would they like this one?

  12. #12

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    "I the people". You mean you.

  13. #13

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Damn. I meant 'If the people'

  14. #14

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Because for some people, relying on the past is comforting.

  15. #15
    Forum Veteran
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    New York City

    Default Gaudi tower at WTC?

    Unsuited for the WTC site, at least from what I can see in that rendering. *Kinda looks like a giant penis.

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