Celebrating Design at 4 World Trade - Municipal Art Society of New York's MASterworks Awards - Wall Street Journal

By Rebecca Bratburd| Wall Street Journal

On the 68th floor of 4 World Trade Center, developer Larry Silverstein welcomed the building's first celebrators—the Municipal Art Society of New York—before its public opening to honor the recipients of the MASterworks Awards.

SHoP Architects earned the Neighborhood Catalyst award for Barclays Center, which transformed the Atlantic Yards into a strong community center at one of Brooklyn's busiest urban intersections. In his remarks, Mr. Silverstein shared the story about his first visit to the arena.

He said he waited for hours with his granddaughters to see a performance by Jay-Z, then "all of a sudden, wham! This powerful blast comes through and all of a sudden, I find myself vibrating internally," the 82-year-old businessman said. "It got louder and louder…I think I've lost my hearing, but that's life in the big city."

At the ceremony last week, trouble lights hung from the ceiling, dimly illuminating a makeshift bar and exposed walls. Despite the floor's ready-to-build appearance, some 300 architects seemed right in their element, admiring the building's floor-to-ceiling windows and snapping photos of the awe-inspiring city views from the top of the skyscraper.

Steven Holl Architects won the Best New Building award for the Campbell Sports Center at Columbia University. The architects designed the building to serve the mind, the body and the mind/body of student athletes.

Weiss/Manfredi built an inhabitable topography for the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Visitor Center, which earned the team the Best New Urban Amenity award.

Michael Manfredi called Municipal Art Society New York City's "design moral compass." Marion Weiss said, "They've been advocates and agitators at the same time and that's a fine line to walk and still be heard."

Municipal Art Society President Vin Cipolla said the organization received more than two dozen nominations for projects completed in the preceding year. In a break from the norm, Brooklyn outweighed Manhattan in excellence in architecture and urban design. For example, Rogers Marvel Architects won the Best Restoration award for McCarren Pool and Bathhouse, which will feature an ice-skating rink come winter.

"To see extraordinary, global architects working in Brooklyn is a fantastic development," Mr. Cipolla said. "The intimacy of the projects, like at McCarren Pool, shows them giving back to a community with a life-giving amenity that is extraordinary."

Municipal Art Society's mission is to preserve historical landmarks and public open spaces, and at the same time, to encourage responsible urban planning and development, said Mr. Cipolla.

News: 11.10.2013