99 Washington: Another Atrocity Courtesy of Gene Kaufman

The world’s tallest Holiday Inn is now rising at 99 Washington Street, but that isn’t a good thing for the New York skyline. While the building may have 400 rooms and rise 50 stories, that still makes it practically invisible in the downtown skyline. Nonetheless, anyone who is forced to look at Kaufman’s latest creation will be sorely displeased with the view.

Holiday Inns are clearly budget hotels, and New York is certainly in need of more low-cost options, but the building Kaufman has come up with is atrocious. The worst part of the design is something superficial, as well–it’s the zebra-stripe coloring that takes the building from merely ugly to actually offensive. The stripes change a building that is merely boring into something the eye is drawn to, as if it’s too heinous to look away from.

The base of the structure also has just enough of an indent that the street-wall is ruined along the block. Street-walls are extremely important in New York, and definitely characterize Downtown Manhattan. Indents along the lower portions of buildings break both the character and the mood of the neighborhood which is a shame, because new aesthetic-based zoning regulations could fix the issue so easily.

No argument needs to be made for budget hotels to be aesthetically equivalent to their luxury counterparts, however Gene Kaufman has proven that regardless of the client, the design is always heinous. Kaufman has also designed the hotel rising at 237 West 54th, which is going to be run by the Hilton brand–while that building is bad instead of awful, like 99 Washington, poor taste still prevailed.

Kaufman has left eyesore after eyesore across Manhattan, and his legacy of awkwardly-massed hotels may not be visible from other boroughs, but they show a complete lack of regard for the historic character and fabric of New York. New development is not a problem in New York, but bad architects certainly are, and Kaufman once again takes the cake. Fortunately this corner of Manhattan will be bearable for another few months, as 99 Washington is scheduled for completion in October of this year.

Here’s a wide sampling of Kaufman’s legacy (scroll down for the full horror show), as well as more information on the ‘world’s tallest’ Holiday Inn rising at 99 Washington Street.

The Chatsworth Horizon
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