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Slice and dice architecture | DesignNotes by Michael Surtees

Slice and dice architecture

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While it may be a cliche to suggest that every building in NYC has a story behind it, I can’t help but wonder about the Affinia Hotel near Madison Square Gardens. With a quick glance it becomes apparent that there’s a lot of weird stuff going on. The entire shape is a combination of slicing and dicing, starts and stops and brick work that takes a life of its own. I also wonder about the architects original intentions and how much it got messed around while it was being built. Were there tons of battles before the building even got started?

Looking at the building now I wonder how the main protagonists of the building’s history took to its rise. Not knowing any of the history I can only interject my own theories. It seems to me that the architect was incredibly into details while the contractor and builders had other priorities. Maybe the building owner was two faced—liked the details but was willing to save a dollar at all costs. Were people laxed to details, the architect realizing this and possibly slipped in details that were never approved, only to be foiled by the builders who ignored the blueprints the next day?

There’s a number of brick related elements that seem kind of strange. There’s columns of different coloured brick that finish off a couple window with flourishes. A nice but slightly ugly detail. However it looks like they had spare dark brick so they just continued upwards until they ran out. On a slightly different note, there looks like a different beige brick that got thrown into the building haphazardly. Can you imagine the conversation that was going on between the architect, builder and owner of the building. I’m sure it wasn’t pretty.

Those building elements are quite old now and give it a bit of charm that we would never see today with the glass veneers that wrap most buildings. While the brick work was one stage of the building process, there’s other things to look at. There’s the worn typography advertising the hotel when it was in other hands. Again I can only speculate how many businesses have tried to make a go of having a hotel right beside Madison Square Garden. The final element that I was able to capture was the hand made heart outside of one window. I’m assuming it was from a couple on their honeymoon. A simple gesture that maybe was preplanned while the guests first wanted to visit NYC. What makes it more remarkable that the heart probably would never had been viewable if a chain of events hadn’t happened. Crazy brick workers, architects trying to go into great detail, and someone booking the room oblivious to the outside.

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  • http://www.selikoffco.com/ JonSel

    I'd wager that a lot of that mismatched brick aside from the vertical striping is due to patchwork and repairs made over the years. With the amount of soot kicked up in the city, older bricks retain a patina that newer bricks don't quite have.

  • http://designnotes.info/ michaelsurtees

    If you're right, that's a lot of patchwork. Like a TON of patchwork.