This week we profile Untapped Cities contributor Bhushan Mondkar, an architect who has taken us deep into the bowels of the Second Avenue Subway, for a ride on the holiday vintage train and swing party in NYC, and documented the construction of 4 WTC from start to finish.
What’s your “day job”?
I work as an Architectural and Urban Designer at Perkins Eastman. I get to work on some very exciting projects in New York City- across all five boroughs and beyond!
What’s your favorite Untapped spot in your city?
Definitely the surreal caverns under Second Avenue, that will soon be transformed into some of the best state of art subway stations in NYC, and enriched by dynamic artwork. I’d love if MTA left a piece of these caverns untouched for New Yorkers to experience their million year-old past, maybe as a transit museum!
Favorite piece you’ve written for Untapped?
I like them all!…and none of them would have been possible without my wife, Catherine‘s help, who is also a contributor at Untapped Cities! I’d say that my favorite piece would be writing about the ‘nostalgia special‘ train ride and I really enjoyed making the video. My wife and I spent two weekends riding the vintage train. Making a video was not the original plan, but the ambiance in that train was just so energetic- people dressed up in classic 1920’s fashion, enthralling live music, flickering light bulbs- everything was so dramatic! That’s when I started taking videos on my iPhone and soon I had captured so many intimate and spirited moments that I thought it would be worthwhile to share these with our readers.
What’s the most memorable thing that happened while at Untapped Cities?
Most memorable moment? That would be on the 34th floor headquarters of Untapped Cities, when I met Michelle and a lot of other contributors at an annual party! They are all so talented and have so many incredible experiences to share (duh!) I remember being excited to be a part of this community!
Also, writing about the Next New York series (hosted by Forum For Urban Design) was a memorable experience; I got to meet a lot of influential New Yorkers who are shaping the city today!
What’s the most surprising and/or valuable thing you learned at Untapped Cities?
The most valuable (or rather invaluable!) would be the thousands of untapped things I get to learn about New York City! Over the past few years this website has become an encyclopedia of obscure facts about the past, present and future of our cities!
Writing for Untapped Cities has also greatly changed my perception of looking at innovative and influential people- ‘the crazy ones’ as Apple would say! I used to have a notion that they would be these larger-than-life characters, but I found that most of them are really down-to earth people who are following their passion. I’ve learned that anyone can do whatever they aspire to, if they care enough about it and have the passion to follow it through. It is all about following your heart!
What’s your favorite Untapped place you’ve visited while traveling? Where do you want to visit next?
Visiting the Titanic quarter in Belfast was one of the best untapped experiences I’ve had. The local students were kind enough to lead us into the Drawing Room of the old Harland & Wolff offices where Lord Pirrie, Thomas Andrews and Alexander Carlisle sketched out their dream for the biggest liner ever built. It’s ironic to think the Titanic is now the world’s most famous wreck while its birthplace remains largely forgotten.
Also, visiting the ruins of an Indian village named Kuldhara was a surreal experience. This thirteenth century village near the desert town of Jaisalmer was abandoned overnight in the eighteenth century for reasons still unknown! Among the vast expanse of ruins and golden sand, there still stands a temple, a stepped well and three houses!
Up next? I already signed up at Mars one for a one way ticket to Mars! Unfortunately that did not work out, but I would love to visit Antarctica some day! In the near future, I would love to explore the tunnels under Las Vegas.
What’s your favorite obscure fact about your city?
That there was a pneumatic train tunnel built in New York City! WAY BACK in 1870! Take that Elon Musk! Ok, it was only one block long, and did not carry New Yorkers to Washington DC in 5 minutes, but it is still an incredible piece of New York’s history!
Craziest thing you’ve ever done?
There a many, but I think, climbing up an earthquake battered historic hospital in the Indian town of Bhuj tops the list. I was intrigued by the beautiful building which lay in ruins and wanted to take pictures of the giant steel girders and stone slabs that lay balanced on weak supports! Now that I think of it, I could have so easily brought the rest of the building down!
What are some of your favorite websites?
If I had an hour of free time, the first 10 minutes would be up for laughs, reading mindless jokes and looking at funny pictures. The next 30 minutes would be reading design blogs: Archinect, Architizer, Arch Daily, Evolo, Dezeen, Urban Omnibus etc and the last 20 minutes would be watching videos on TED, Bloomberg TV and reading Fast Company, INC, Atlantic Cities.
Oh yeah and then I would spend another hour reading all the Untapped articles which offers a little bit of everything!