Friday, October 06, 2006

Coney Island Aquarium Renovation is Cause for Celebration


Our general sense of foreboding about the Coney Island makeover--punctated by fears of gross high rises on the boardwalk and a Times Square-like shopping mall experience--is temporarily relieved by some of the drawings associated with the impending renovation of the New York Aquarium. The current complex is the result of Robert Moses and his single-minded determination to remove the aquarium from Battery Park and demolish Castle Clinton, which had been its home. Mr. Moses' revenge was to conspire to stick it somewhere where people wouldn't want to go see the fish--ie, Coney Island, where he was busy building public housing highrises. We like the aquarium, but it is one the most, depressing and butt-ugly things in all of New York. At least, its block-long concrete wall on the boardwalk--a spooky cousin of the kind of anti-human, anti-urban architecture you find in places like downtown Atlanta and Houston--is one of the most foul things you will run across. What sort of person surrounds an aquarium at the beach with a humongous concrete wall?

Please, God, let the change come quickly, without bureaucratic squabbling and funding challenges.

In any case, there are three finalists in aquarium makeover and the winning design will be chosen before the end of fall. While there is no such thing as a "final" design in New York City, the early signs are hopeful. The cool design above comes from WRT and Cloud9. There is a good article by Nicholas Confessore in today's Times about the plans and Gothamist, as always, posted an excellent rundown too.

The one immediately below was created by Smith-Miller & Hawkinson Architects.


The one below is from West 8 in collaboration with Weisz & Yoes Architecture, and probably our least favorite of the three. We're not feeling the big pink squid thing.




Blogger Xris said...

It's a jellyfish, not a squid.

I didn't realize the filmy thing at the top was the design from WRT. I thought it was one of the aquarium's exhibits I missed the last time I was there. I can't get a sense of what it's supposed to be from the single photo.

3:28 PM  

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