Wright’s Key project for Ellis Island in 1959, New York Harbor
From Battery Park to Greenwich Village to the High Line, Downtown Manhattan is abounding with stories of ambitious architectural feats. However, it was also the imagined location of many buildings that never were.
The following are examples of such projects, culled from an extensive compilation gathered by authors Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell in their book Never Built New York. Though never realized upon the streets of New York City, these intriguing plans can now be seen in an exhibition at Queens Museum.
10. St. Mark’s-In-The-Bouwerie Residence Towers
Wright’s towers surrounding St. Mark’s Church. Source: Never Built New York
St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue, opened in 1799 and is New York City’s oldest site of continuous worship. This landmark is situated on the bouwerie, or farm, which was owned by 17th Dutch settler, Peter Stuyvesant. In 1927, the Church’s rector, William Norman Guthrie, hired Frank Lloyd Wright to design apartment towers composed of concrete and glass. Wright’s “organic” plan imagined the buildings as trees instead of steel, with no interior dividers. Each apartment was planned to be a duplex, with bedroom levels creating a balcony across the living room.
To avoid rain getting on the glass windows, each apartment stuck out slightly more than the one under it, so the apartments got larger the farther up residents would go. It was the hope of Guthrie that the towers would be located around the Church, with a plan to live in a penthouse of the largest building. However, the plan was too radical as the Depression had left the Church near bankruptcy, and St. Mark’s-In-The-Bouwerie never came to be.