6 modern architectural marvels in Upper Manhattan

Updated: Apr 10


The modern facade of the Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem.
The modern facade of the Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem.

As we prepare to say goodbye to the old Lasker Rink and Pool, built in 1966—construction on a brand new facility starts this spring—it's a good time to check in with some of Upper Manhattan's most notable examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture.


Who knows how long any of them have before the wrecking ball comes. From south to north:

1. Lasker Rink and Pool

W 110th Street and Lenox Ave

Architect: Fordyce & Hamby Associates

Year: 1966


The shaded pavilion at Lasker Rink and Pool in Harlem
The shaded pavilion at Lasker Rink and Pool in Harlem.

Serving as an ice skating rink in the winter and a public swimming pool in the summer, this facility on the northern edge of Central Park is set to undergo a $150 million makeover this spring lasting three years. Don't miss the cool concrete pavilion overlooking the rink and pool.


2. The Greater Refuge Temple

2081 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd and W 124th St

Architect: Costas Machlouzarides

Year: 1966


The Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem
The Greater Refuge Temple in Harlem.

An old theater that became a church, this building was "scooped out" and turned into something resembling a Lincoln Center concert hall by architect Costas Machlouzarides, according to the New York Times. A year later he went on to design the Church of the Crucifixion in Harlem's Sugar Hill (see No. 5 below).


3. Manhattanville Houses

Broadway to Amsterdam Ave between W 129th and W 133rd Sts

Architect: William Lescaze

Year: 1954-1961


Manhattanville Houses, designed by Swiss architect William Lescaze
Manhattanville Houses, designed by acclaimed Swiss architect William Lescaze.

Designed by Swiss architect William Lescaze (of PSFS Building fame) between 1954 and 1961, the Manhattanville Houses introduced new ideas to public housing. Their Y-shape was a departure from the typical slab or cross shapes frequently seen in other projects. And Lescaze used colored panels not only to update the public's perception of the building, but to decorate the balconies on each floor that served as "backyard[s] in the sky."


4. Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church

58 W 135th St and Malcolm X Blvd

Architect: unknown

Year: 1960s


Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Harlem
Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Harlem

The colorful, modern facade—architect unknown—actually hides a much older structure. Built as the Lincoln Theater in 1915, it was once a destination for black vaudeville before turning into a movie theater, then a church. There has been plenty of talk about the house of worship being replaced with a residential building, but the church still stands for now.


5. The Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion

459 W 149th St and Convent Ave

Architect: Costas Machlouzarides

Year: 1967


The Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion in Harlem's Sugar Hill
The Episcopal Church of the Crucifixion in Harlem's Sugar Hill.

Reminiscent of Le Corbusier's church at Ronchamp, this building is a spectacular modern sight in the Sugar Hill historic district, an area better known for its beautiful old brownstones. Along with the Calhoun School on the Upper West Side, it is considered one of architect Costas Machlouzarides's signature works.


6. George Washington Bridge Bus Station

Fort Washington to Wadsworth Aves between W 166th and W 167th Sts

Architect: Pier Luigi Nervi

Year: 1963


The George Washington Bridge Bus Station was designed by Pier Luigi Nervi
The George Washington Bridge Bus Station was designed by Pier Luigi Nervi.

Designed in 1963 by Italian architect and engineer Pier Luigi Nervi (also responsible for the 1960 Olympic Stadium in Rome), this massive bus terminal is a visual jolt of soaring lines and bold geometric patterns made from reinforced concrete. The building on the west side of Broadway resembles some sort of futuristic steam liner, while other views are reminiscent of Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA terminal at JFK (which opened in 1962, one year earlier).

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