7. The Municipal Asphalt Plant was despised by Robert Moses

The Municipal Asphalt Plant on the Upper East Side

The Municipal Asphalt Plant, built between 1941 and 1944, was an old asphalt plant that became a pool and fitness center in 1984. The plant was designed by Robert Allen Jacobs and Ely Jacques Kahn, who designed many New York skyscrapers and collaborated with Ayn Rand. The plant features four arched ribs of reinforced concrete, reducing unused space. The arches also reduced the need for reinforced steel, which was incredibly expensive during World War II. Asphalt Green, the fitness center, was created four decades later following major structural changes to the interior.

The post-modernist building, though, was hated by Robert Moses, who called it the “Cathedral of Asphalt.” He further noted that it was “the most hideous waterfront structure ever inflicted on a city by a combination of architectural conceit and official bad taste.” However, The Museum of Modern Art defended it in the exhibit “Art in Progress,” stating that it was “one of the buildings in the entire country which best represent progress in design and construction during the past twelve years.”