Saturday, January 17, 2009


I had just dropped Lola and Isabela at Bowl-Mor lanes (gosh I could do a whole post on that place) and was driving down 12th Street when I passed this church. Or what remains of this church. You see, it's just a facade behind which looms a towering new condo building or NYU dorm or some such glass and metal monolith. I'm not sure how I feel about facadism which I vaguely remember reading about in a Brendan Gill New Yorker article in the early '90's. I love small scale historic districts where the buildings interact with the street and don't overwhelm passersby and so facadism offers a way to maintain this feel while allowing for necessary development. But this thing is an atrocity. My friend Clay Miller designs beautiful modern buildings that deserve to be seen and appreciated. Here in Brooklyn that often means having to take down an older building. So be it. Don't get me wrong, I almost cried when they tore down the Old Dutch Mustard Building in Williamsburg. We need to preserve our city's heritage but we're a dynamic city not a museum. We need to find a way to allow for vibrant, creative architects to make their marks here. Not that there's been any shortage of that lately, I'm just saying. But is facadism the way to do it? I mean, this church thing is a fucking farce. It's an abortion for Chrissakes (sorry, I couldn't help myself). Look no further than the goddam Christmas wreath on the door. You're joking right? Is this a joke? You want to build a big ass building? Have some balls. Tear the church down. So, while I am of (at least) two minds on the concept of facadism, I tend to agree with this 1985 NY Times article:

To save only the facade of a building is not to save its essence; it is to turn the building into a stage set, into a cute toy intended to make a skyscraper more palatable. And the street becomes a kind of Disneyland of false fronts.

What do you think?


  1. Sounds like someone needs some T-N-T...

  2. I'd settle for a wrecking ball and a double espresso.

  3. My office is 3 blocks from this monstrosity, and I watched it being built. On that block, the drugstore is now a Crunch gym, and the church is now just a facade, which is in a grotesque way, fitting, given the state of 'church-ianity' in America. Needless to say, I no longer walk down that block...