Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Norman Foster's Upper East Side Radicalism

Norman Foster has designed a 22-story elliptical, glass apartment building as a rooftop addition to the existing five-story limestone Parke-Bernet Gallery building on Madison Avenue between 76th and 77th streets, in a designated historic district.

In response to opposition from preservation groups throughout the city, Foster said that the project was consistent with the Upper East Side's "tradition of radicalism," exemplified by the designs of the Guggenheim and Whitney museums.

People from New York know that the Lower East Side has a tradition of political radicalism, but the Upper East Side does not have a tradition of radicalism at all.

The Upper East Side has a tradition of being very wealthy, which lets it play with artsy avant-gardist projects that have nothing to do with political radicalism, such as the Guggenheim and Whitney museum.

Maybe we could deflate its pretentions if we described this style as "Upper East Side radicalism."


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