Canopy Creates A Religious Experience in Lower Manhattan

Michael Kimmelman pays homage to an angular glass canopy, designed by architect Preston Scott Cohen, that has turned a pedestrian street in Lower Manhattan into a "social cathedral."
June 6, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

Covering 11,000 square feet of North End Way, "an obscure but busy pedestrian street" near One World Trade Center, the angular glass canopy "elevates what is really just a gap between two buildings into something almost as inspired as the nave of a great Gothic cathedral," writes Kimmelman.

So what is the secret to the canopy's charm? According to Kimmelman, the canopy's success is rooted in a deft handling of the tension between constraint and freedom by its designer. The canopy "is composed of three tilting, jagged triangles. Picture giant shards of glass. They filter light gracefully through enameled panes, the light shifting with the passing day. The longest triangle is Mr. Cohen's big statement: It slices the arcade, which bends toward the south end, along the diagonal. That sweeping diagonal brings together what could otherwise be - precisely because North End Way isn't straight - a disjointed space. Stretching the length of the easement, the diagonal provides counterpoint to the regular beat of the canopy's steel ribbing and the modules of 200 West's facade."

"This all may sound complicated, but there's an elegant simplicity to the three triangles slung from the same long wall. Those glass planes explode outward, upward and downward from the horizontal line where the canopy connects to 200 West. The tension between that steady horizontal and the fun-house effects of the triangles is what gives North End Way its architectural drama."

Full Story:
Published on Monday, June 4, 2012 in The New York Times
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email