LOWER AMSTERDAM AVENUE IS BECOMING QUITE A HODGE-PODGE

amsterdam arch
Developer Equity Residential is building an apartment tower at 170 Amsterdam Avenue (full rendering below) next to the new Lincoln Square Synagogue.

With construction proceeding quickly on the new building at 170 Amsterdam Avenue, it’s now becoming clear that Amsterdam between 66th and 70th street will consist of drastically different architectural styles. There’s the tall, glassy Aire on 67th and Amsterdam, the heavy crisscrossing exterior bars at 170, and the undulating Lincoln Square Synagogue next door. Across the street on 69th, the old Lincoln Square Synagogue will eventually be demolished for another tower. And who knows what that will look like.

170 amsterdam avenueUpper West Side architecture tends to exhibit some uniformity. That doesn’t imply blandness. Central Park West is filled with solid art-deco and Beaux-Arts buildings. Even the Trump towers from 59th to 72nd blend together, even if they don’t quite blend in with the buildings further North on Riverside Drive.

Amsterdam below 72nd — a relatively dreary stretch that includes loading areas for Lincoln Center and scant business activity — is shaping up to be quite a hodge-podge. That could make the avenue an eyesore, or it could create a kind of discordant excitement — the architectural equivalent of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew.

Whether the area becomes more walkable and attractive will also depend heavily on what businesses end up on the ground level. The Aire’s empty junk-filled first floor is not a good omen in that regard. Faceless residential complexes and nonprofits won’t make Amsterdam a walkable area (a protected bike lane with trees could arguably help enliven the street).

We first wrote about the architecture at 170 Amsterdam here. Pontificate in the comments, if you wish.

aire
The Aire, via The Aire.

NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 20 comments | permalink
    1. denton says:

      Was just looking at this stretch yesterday and hoping we get some good retail… a real supermarket would be nice!

    2. Kate says:

      I live across the street from 170 Amsterdam. I can tell that the building being constructed is going to be one heck of an eyesore.

    3. Scooter Stan says:

      Even though it doesn’t quite fit in with its Lincoln Towers neighbors, the Aire, a classic glass high-rise, is, at the least, interesting, and from some vantage points even attractive.

      But the same cannot be said for its immediate neighbor to the north, the “X-rated” 170 Amsterdam, which is rapidly on course to becoming a view-blocking grotesque pile of architectural hubris.

      And then there’s the Lincoln Square Synagogue, with its hideously wiggly alternately bulging dark-glass facade, looking like the victim of some sort of serious structural failure, and its depressingly grim, grey, almost windowless limestone facade looking like something from The Maginot Line.

      Both structures scream “pass on by; nothing here to see!” That is NOT what architecture is supposed to do.

      Their architects may have taste … but in their mouths, only.

    4. Steve J says:

      I live in Lincoln Towers and look west so won’t have my view blocked. But these building monstrosities are a big disappointment to me. I’d rather go back to when there was a bagel place, Chinese restaurant, Woolworth’s and Burger King on those blocks than what it will become. The only savior would be good retail at street level but I’m dubious that will happen.

      • Christine says:

        I agree 100%. I grew up on the Upper West Side. And it’s lost it’s flavor not to mention mom & pop store. Too homogenized now. It’s all about greed.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          Ruth Messigner saw it coming 25+ years ago… that is why she pushed for Commercial Rent Control… we still need it. A policy that can save small diverse retain on the UWS.

          • westSider says:

            Bruce, seriously why don’t you move to Havana Cuba.

            I think you will like it there.

            You clearly hate free markets.

            Also, that block was a total eyesore back in the day.

            Woolworths and Burger King are chain stores, not mom and pop. and Woolworths is out of business.

            The new synagogue looks great and I like the new apt buildings too.

            Stop living in the past altakockers.

            • Cholera says:

              Altacockers? What chutzpah!

              Please, tell us what the view is like from your pedestal in the new, blindingly-ugly building.

              A nar bleibt a nar. Zol zein mit mazel, neighbor.

    5. Pedestrian says:

      Sad but true architects and owners/developers are not interested in good looking or the impact of their work on the neighborhood. Its all about the money; nothing else.

    6. J says:

      Flywheel is going into the Aire building

    7. Jeff says:

      That stretch is pretty bland, so what the heck. But I have to say, the synagogue could be great if not for the windows – I can’t tell if they’re tinted yellowish-brown or if they’re just obscured by some crazy drab curtains, but the dismal color really brings the building down.

    8. nj says:

      looks like the port autority on 40th st
      ik!

    9. NikFromNYC says:

      Dear UWS:

      If you support those con Art World scamners who keep faux fawning over an upside down urinal placed next to a Van Gogh, then ugly-on-purpose architecture is what you really want, and what you will really get, as banks turn your gallery spaces into billboards.

    10. Irving Polsky says:

      X-braced 170 Amsterdam Avenue returns to traditional
      structural theory for efficiency of design. A green building is thus enabled.
      Irving Polsky, P.E.

    11. Steve says:

      This stretch is certainly not the most interesting part of the Upper West Side.

      Hopefully there will be some mixed use elements at street level, and perhaps a pedestrian plaza or two. We really need to encourage the viability of smaller mom and pop’s, and an environment which promotes a more vibrant street life is one way to do that.

    12. Richard says:

      You are so right. The building going up at 170 Amsterdam is one ugly building. We thought that the concrete pillars would be inside an outer shell, that would be bad enough, but now you show those pillars on the outside—bad, bad, bad. How can the city approve such a building? It’s almost as bad as those 100 story buildings they have approved for W57th Street. I’m just glad that we have a new administration coming in that MAY care what this city looks like, certainly Mr. Bloomberg never has.

    13. Liz says:

      It’s all about the money. Big business and the politicians really don’t care about the aesthetics and quality of life in the UWS or any other neighborhood in the City any more.

      I continue to lament the loss of the unique character of neighborhoods. UWS was one of the last to undergo the process of being gentrified; however, it is now upon us like a horde of locusts.

      It’s a pity. Well at least now you can drown your sorrow at the loss of our neighborhood with one of those $15.00 cocktails at lounge at the Beacon.

      • Scooter Stan says:

        OH, Puleeze! No one needs to indulge in $15 cocktails (or $40 entrees) unless he/she wants to, for whatever reason! And if they do, it’s their business.

        It is totally possible to live in and enjoy the UWS without spending outrageous amounts of money on dining or entertainment. Sure there’s expense-account places like Telepan or Loi, but there’s also mid-range places like Luce or Smith, and then there’s the wonderful and reasonable ethnic places, too many to mention.

        Despite all the moaning, the UWS is still a thriving viable exciting bit of NYC with a wonderful history, surrounded on both sides by wonderful PUBLIC parks that cost nothing, and great access to the rest of Manhattan.

        If the UWS is so terrible, how come there are so few vacancies in its buildings?

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          Both Luce and the Smith will run you $65 – 90 per person for dinner, depending on whether or not you get an appetizer. More if you have non-tap water and/or a second glass of wine.

          I guess that is considered “mid range” these days? how the rich have lost contact with the middle class.

          meanwhile, decent reasonably priced places to eat as well as local hardware stores, supermarkets, book stores etc. get driven out. Gentrification with a capital G.

    14. Debbie says:

      PLEASE! HOPING FOR A REAL GROCERY STORE!!!!