As Eero Saarinen's TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport comes to life again today as the TWA Hotel, it's a good time to check in with some of Upper Manhattan's most notable examples of Mid-Century Modern architecture. They might not be as famous at Saarinen's masterpiece, but they're just as worthy of a visit–and who knows how long some 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
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 in 2020 lasting three years. Don't miss the shaded lounging area above the pool.
2. The Greater Refuge Temple
2081 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd and W 124th St
Architect: Costas Machlouzarides
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
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
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. In 2017, real estate outlets reported that the building would be 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
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. It is considered one of architect Costas Machlouzarides's signature works (along with the Calhoun School on the Upper West Side).
6. George Washington Bridge Bus Station
Fort Washington to Wadsworth Aves between W 166th and W 167th Sts
Architect: 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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