8. Hudson Yards

As Hudson Yards rolls out its first major phase this year with works by a stable of notable architects, its public spaces, shops, cultural venue The Shed, and stairway-sculpture The Vessel have attracted large crowds in contrast to mostly scathing criticism.

Architecture critic Michael Kimmelman is representative of the damning sentiment. Like Millard’s read of Lincoln Center, Hudson Yards “declines to blend into the city grid” and reminiscent of Mumford’s tone on Rockefeller Center, the Vessel is “casting egregious shadows over what passes for public open space.”

But the key complaint speaks to current concerns, intertwining architecture and urbanism with social and economic issues that twentieth century reviewers were less apt to conflate. Hudson Yards is “a supersized suburban-style office park, with a shopping mall and a quasi-gated condo community targeted at the 0.1 percent.” 

Looking back, most contemporary reviewers barely mentioned let alone objected that Lincoln Center was a “slum clearance” project that pushed aside lower income residents for cultural facilities primarily serving those of means or challenged Marcel Breuer’s comment regarding the Whitney that “I didn’t try to fit the building to its neighbors because the neighboring buildings aren’t any good.” Hudson Yards is emblematic of its times and, so too, are the responses of critics.

Next, read about 15 secrets of the Met Opera at Lincoln Center, 10 fun facts about TWA Hotel, and a first look inside Hudson Yards.

Contact the author @Jeff_Reuben