The Future Makers: A New York City that could have been

The Future Makers: A New York City that could have been

A New York City That Could Have Been

Celebrating what would be paul rudolph’s 100th birthday, designer lasse lyhne-hansen revisits one of the late american architect’s most famous unbuilt proposals: the lower manhattan expressway, one of the last mega plans radically transforming new york city

 In 1967, Paul Rudolph was commissioned by the Ford Foundation to do a study on the implications of the LOMEX, as it was abbreviated and known back then, a robert moses proposal for a Y-shaped corridor that would have destroyed much of what we now know as SOHO and Tribeca. rudolph’s findings led him to believe that the city did not need a road that would sever midtown from downtown but instead, a building spanning the entire width of manhattan. 

the plaza leading to the williamsburg bridge 

rudolph’s idea was to use the expressway as a corridor in which to build so much around that the transportation link at the heart of it became irrelevant. he envisioned a megastructure extending all the way across manhattan, attached to it pedestrian plazers, parking lots, units of prefabricated apartments and people movers, connecting the buildings. but the brutalist/metabolist architecture did little to persuade the public on the justification of the road and it was fiercely hated and criticized, fast quashed by efforts led by urban activist jane jacobs – a fate that an older rudolph agreed with. 

entering the plaza

 in LOMEX revisited, lasse lyhne-hansen has drawn up two areas in birds-eye perspective sections, inspired by iconic imagery from rudolph publications. instead of matching the original viewpoint or finding similar views looking in from outside the structure, the inside of the structure is explored from eye-height, trying to capture the epic image as well as everyday scenes to experience the many facets of the spaces. the composition of the images is based on the deep, central perspective drawing style that paul rudolph mastered.

parking level under the expressway

through the work of translating the drawings to 3D many blanks and inconsistencies were encountered, which is natural for a project that is a study rather than an actual building‘, lyhne-hansen explains of the project’s challenges. ‘the inconsistencies were navigated by researching paul rudolph’s built work and projects and combined the available drawings aiming to bring out the best of the project. for the final translation the projects take on a speculative phase.

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looking across the structure along columbia st

 in realizing these visualizations, lyhne-hansen accessed the paul rudolph foundation whose key functions include the digitization of rudolph’s work in order to make them easily accessible to the general public. materials are not specified and also not completely obvious but are all inspired by his completed works. missing objects such as handrails, stairs etc. have been designed using a combinations of similar objects from his other buildings and whatever indications existing drawings of the project offer. more information on the scheme, and rudolph’s work, is available via the foundation’s online portal.

interior in the highrises

 paul rudolph made a name for himself building lavish villas in Florida in the late 40’ and early 50’ and only a few years later’ he was among the most published and celebrated architects. this ended abruptly when postmodernism led the architectural press to abandoned him completely. most major US clients soon followed suit and paul rudolph went into a sort of architectural exile, spending the last of his career, mainly building in southeast asia. one of Paul rudolph’s largest and also one of the last of his major US projects was the study on the lower manhattan expressway initiated in 1967. a project at the peak of his popularity and influence.

terrace in the highrises

the valley of the lowrises

 the meeting of the sloped superstructure and the vertical city

lowrises original drawing

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highrises original drawing

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looking up on the cantilevered units

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passage through the lowrises

From: DESIGNBOOM / October 24, 2018