Bright Lights, Big Buildings

I love the sparkling lights of a night-time cityscape. I am almost embarrassed to admit this — but I am a sucker for Times Square at night, apartment buildings with lit-up windows, neon stop lights dotting the avenues. I find beauty in the dancing lights and the festival of colors. All the frenetic movement makes me feel like I am part of some large performance in which the lights, color, people, movement and textures are the characters in a story. I am part of something big, bold, overwhelming and, for me, comforting. To me — that is beauty. The kind of beauty that makes me feel a sense of awe and wonder.

Recently, I came this 30-story, glass-and-stainless-steel building called 7 Bryant Park, between 39th and 40th Streets, along Sixth Avenue.

The building stopped me in my tracks — I was mesmerized. What takes place inside? What inspired the design? What do other people think when they walk past it? I am sure that there are many people who find this building an abomination — its design and environmental impact (I am disgusted by the horrific amount of energy required to illuminate the building and light pollution generated.) Yet, I am attracted to and drawn in by its beauty.

Curious — I did a little research and discovered that the building was designed by the firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners Architects. The signature attribute of the New York tower is a concave, hourglass-shaped incision that runs the length of the structure on its northeast corner, instead of a traditional right angle. This feature is designed to distinguish the property from the myriad of other midtown skyscrapers. Two large indoor video screens at street level will show calming landscapes, meant as an extension of Bryant Park’s greenery. At other times, the screens will flash scenes of busy Chinese assembly lines, happy Chinese children and bamboo-chomping pandas.

I am not an expert on architecture or design. But, I find that the crisp, elegant design, along with the placement and relationship to the neighborhood, gives it a sense of beauty.