Photo by myself on West 40th Street and Fifth Avenue.
The main branch of the stately New York Public Library is to the right. It's undergoing a slight makeover at the moment. Portions are shrouded by tarps, which bring to mind a Christo installation.
A row of recently constructed modern buildings recede to the distance. The furthest one with the spire is the New York Times building completed last year by noted
Argentinian architect Cesar Pelli Italian architect Renzo Piano. (Thanks John, who commented below with the correction!)
In 2000, Fox and Fowle, a New York architecture firm, completed 4 Times Square, the Conde Nast building at Broadway and 42nd Street.
The building caused a buzz because it called itself 'green'. It was the first time I'd heard the term applied to buildings. Special care had been taken in the design of the curtain walls, so a minimal amount of energy would be necessary for heating and cooling. Recirculation of air was also a concern, to avoid unhealthy office spaces.
So much waste is created in the building process, that it's great to know that architects, contractors and clients want to reduce the impact of construction on the environment. The trouble is that many of the costs are higher up front, to provide a savings in energy later.
Architects and designers can be concerned about the environment, but it means nothing until the client is willing to pay for it. And then 'green' alternatives have to be available to choose from.
When buildings began relying on internal steel columns, it marked a huge change in design and aesthetics. The New York Public Library is load bearing masonry building and looks like it is. On the other end of the spectrum, modern high rises don't wish to pretend to be load bearing at all. Their steel and glass facades imply a separate internal skeleton.
Now with the focus on sustainability, I have to wonder how our time period will be viewed in the future. Will we be able to discern a 'green' building from a non-green building by sight? Will there be methods for buildings to code themselves as green, and hence brand themselves as a better, more responsible place to live or work?