Saturday, December 01, 2007

New Museum!

The much hyped about New Museum finally opened in the Lower East Side on Dec. 1!! I was really excited because my firm who I had worked with before going to Japan had built it, and it was a really interesting project by SANAA architects. Actually, it's the first art museum ever constructed from the ground up in downtown Manhattan! There is a pretty cool time lapse video of the building construction on the New Museum's website.

Standing in the depths of the foundation pouring a couple years ago...

It's also about 3 blocks away from my apartment, in the "gritty" Lower East Side. When I first moved to New York, the area was still emerging as this hip, underground area, lots of dirty little bars and small boutiques and cafes (and pretty much the only neighborhood I could afford). Now it's inundated with bars, expensive restaurants and loud drunk kids on the weekends. I'm not opposed to change- but I guess it's weird to be part of such a drastically changing neighborhood. This building is supposed to symbolize this change- a new growth in the formerly rough and tumble neighborhood of kitchen supply stores and colorful residents.

Admission to the museum on opening day was free for like 24 hours, but you had to apply for tickets online beforehand so that they could stagger the guests on half hour intervals. Wendy, Sean, Midori, Ahmed, Paul and I went to brunch before at Cafe Charbon- the wonderful little French bistro across the street from my house (and downstairs from Wendy) and trooped over the museum as the architect/design geeks that we are. It was packed with other architect/design geeks, and not surprisingly, I ran into several other people I had gone to architecture school with in California!

From far away, it looks like a bunch of gray boxes stacked on top of each other, but when you get up close, you realize that there is a layer of sharp aluminum mesh screen covering the building. Seeing the neighborhood through the screen was pretty wild- like a super slick chain link fence.

One of the highlights was that the top floor, an event space with 270 degree views of downtown Manhattan, had been transformed into a pumping music, neon lighted, candy station for all (sponsored by Target). There were piles of white paper bags for guests to fill from the drawers overflowing with candy! I think the sugar was to fuel us for the grueling 7 stories we were walking up and down in the emergency stairs to all the galleries (the museum was so packed that there was a long wait for the elevators)!

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