The Hudson Yards hustle

Don’t look now, it’s happening again: as at Ground Zero, starchitecture is being deployed on the far West Side to camouflage an outright hijacking of space that rightfully belongs to the public sphere.

Sadly, each of the Hudson Yards plans in contention falls far short of what the city deserves, and a few of them are outright disgraceful. And what’s worse is that it’s hard to even imagine at this point how circumstances might be improved.

Never mind, for a second, the stringent boundary conditions imposed on architecture by the Realpolitik of contemporary development – on floor plates by revenue-maximizing algorithms, on building envelopes and entrances by the mandates of “security.” We can take those as givens. Even so, is it so much to ask that architects try to imagine buildings and spaces that serve the public even as they satisfy developers’ pecuniary requirements?

No, wait, never mind: forget I asked. I’m not that naïve, and neither are you.

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