Time Warner Center
Columbus Circle
New York
NY 10022
USA

Skidmore Owings & Merrill (David Childs) 2004

Opinions are divided about this massive new mixed development in the heart of New York's midtown - sometimes seen as New York's new Rockefeller Center.

In the Wall Street Journal, Ada Louise Huxtable describes it as "exactly what a New York skyscraper should be--a soaring, shining, glamorous affirmation of the city's reach and power, and its best real architecture in a long time. Its two tall towers rise from symmetrical lower sections rotated in a bow to the Circle, where the huge building morphs into pedestrian shops and restaurants at ground level. But the wonder is the delicacy, the elegance, of these perfectly calibrated, glittering glass facades, the suave, sharp-edged precision that is amazingly subtle and refined for a structure of this enormous size." 

In the Los Angeles Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff describes it as "a somewhat generic vertical mall whose interior would look at home in an international airport terminal." This is not just out-of-town jealousy; some New Yorkers, while admiring the scale and welcoming the investment, question whether the building's character is really New York - especially midtown. 

 

The complex has an interesting geometry derived from its site, its concave front facing onto the curve of Columbus Circle (at the southwest corner of Central Park), and its dominant twin towers shaped as parallelograms, their shorter sides aligned with the streets in the Manhattan grid, and their longer sides with Broadway, cutting obliquely through the grid from Columbus Circle.

Its scale is huge: a $1.7 billion investment bringing a major upscale shopping mall, a 5-star hotel, offices for 1,700 Time Warner employees and other companies, television studios, a jazz concert hall, residential apartments and more. The sense of scale and power is exacerbated by the unplanned significance of raising new twin towers in New York so soon after September 2001. The location and the power are exhilarating, though the forms of the buildings themselves, and the detailing, are all quite underwhelming. 

It is hard to see the Time Warner Center as beautiful, or elegant, or inspiring architecture - although some do. It is an impressively large project completed on time, which will succeed as the landmark it seeks to be because of its technical credentials, and the scale of the new amenities it offers in a terrific site in New York's midtown.

Simon Glynn 2004


How to visit

The Time Warner Center is on the west side of Columbus Circle, between 58th and 60th Streets, on Eighth Avenue and Broadway - the southwest tip of Central Park. 

Areas open to the public including the shopping mall (entrance from Columbus Circle) and 35th floor lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel (entrance from 60th Street). 

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