Monday, April 17, 2006

The Hearst Building

I pass the new Hearst Building just about every day on my way to work. Some people don't dig the abrupt change from the base - the facade of the original Hearst Building - to the odd, sort of fractured glass and steel structure that sits atop it.

But I really like it; I like how dramatic it is, joining the past and the present. I like that it makes a virtue of difference; it reminds me to say thanks for brindled cows and the like. I have to admit, it also reminds me - happily - that Ayn Rand's pleadings for purity of design in The Fountainhead are nonsensical. Finally, I like that while it is unlike any other building in New York, it also feels like a New York building -- unlike, say, the very impressive, but oddly foreign
Time Warner Center that it's pretty much next door to. It took me a while, but I think I've figured out why it seems to fit in: it reminds me of the Chrysler Building. The diamond shapes, the change from stone to steel...for some reason the two of them seem like species that share a common ancestor. Or the same ideas, but in vastly different ratios. Or something. Anyway, here's my favorite detail of the new Hearst building. In the crook of the diamond shapes that make up its corners, there's a little - I don't know how to describe it - wedge? Two little pyramid-ey things sticking out? It's a small touch, and yet I love it. It interrupts the diamonds a little bit, and seems (to my mind) to be a very small nod toward the hood ornament gargoyles that adorn the Chrysler Building.


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