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Westin Hotel, 42nd Street


Westin Hotel, 42nd Street 

~ ~ ~ All content Copyright 2003 on behalf of its creators; please obtain permission for anything besides private, noncommercial use ~ ~ ~

The Rube read recently that the reason people don't like certain colors together is that it forces their eyes to focus unpleasantly at varying wavelengths.

The new Westin New York Hotel (still under construction) seems at risk of offending in this way, with its panels of copper, gold, bronze, orange, white, silver, violet, green, blue and aqua.

These are set in frames of copper and silver, as shown in Fig. 1, and arranged in contrasting horizontal and vertical stripes, another offbeat fashion choice. Here also they look unpleasantly flat and even already grimy.

In Fig. 2, however, the panels are displayed to better advantage, and give the building's surface a rippling sparkle. Also, the building is not yet "lit" (the day when the interior lighting is turned for the first time, often marked with the same delight by the builders as is the "topping out" ceremony), which may help it achieve the desired effect shown in Fig. 3, of two glowing prisms "split top to bottom by a curving beam of light that appears to burst into the sky." (John Holusa, NY Times article).

This building has proved controversial among architectural critics; see this topic on the Wired New York forum. NYCJPG's resident architectural critic, Paul Cohen, has these thoughts:

"Have they lit that awful Times Square hotel yet? It is too, Rube! Just plain awful.

I remember back in high school, I became the set designer for a show the drama club was presenting. The show was celebrating Broadway shows but maybe not, because this is the skyline story ... But I thought it celebrated Broadway because one girl performed a section from "For Colored Girls...", which was running, and what I did for her was a half rainbow out of colored paper pasted on the screen that they usually showed films on! So she performed in front of the screen very close to the edge of the stage. Not death-defyingly close ... but it added something to the crummy high school play, I thought, to be able to cut off that huge stage and make it more intimate. I heard that it went very well.

But ... you know what? Now that I think of it I became ... oh Rube, I was a monster. I started directing the damn show! And I was only asked my opinion on some minor thing ... and that's why there was such a time crunch! When I saw the show I thought, Oh this can be so much better and I started doing the backdrops that's what happened and they only had like a week and I took over!!!! ... Sorry, just remembered all of those awful details.

But I wanted to tell about the skyline. So the last number was a dance to Sinatra's "New York, New York". Top hats and kicking and stuff. Now I thought it must not be seen without a skyline in the back. So I went to Mr. Brown (my illustration teacher), and got from him roll after roll of black seamless paper and yes, I cut out a city skyline that was to span the stage. 'Bout 30, 40 feet. And I don't remember that being awful, because you know, its just straight lines and 4 or so pediment tops. Oh and the Citicorp Tower. So there I am stringing my skyline to those whatever you call those bars that lift the sets ... stringing; and then came time to lift it up, and of course it didn't work! It was only paper for crying out loud; no framing, no ... anything. I even had a thin thin spire on top of one of the pointed shapes like the ESB. As if that would have stood up! It all just flopped over or bunched up or threatened to tear. All that work! And of course I was also re-staging as much as I could. I was Michael Bennet. Helen Hayes. I was Bob Fosse, and all for the five or ten (at most) people who ever came to see any of the drama club's productions.

And that's what I want to tell Arquitectonica about their hotel. To warn them that light will go where it wants to. That instead of the "whoosh" effect, they might simply get a tall tower with a light afro. A dandelion."

*Updated 1/3/03

Restore Image Copper/silver frames Panels from a distance Billboard