From today's New York Times, Moment Blog, a great piece by Felix Burrichter on Off-Limits Architecture. I've heard of the Cloud Club before and would love to see it and sip a Martini from that perch.
This week’s guest blogger is Felix Burrichter, a New York-based architect. Burrichter, who was born in Germany, is also the founder and editor of PIN-UP, an independent biannual magazine launched in the fall of 2006, whose unlikely editorial foundations are architecture and sex. To read all of Felix Burrichter’s previous blog posts, click here.
For this last entry, I am joined by Pierre Alexandre de Looz, PIN–UP’s editor at large, to bring you some of our favorite architectural wonders in New York. It’s a nostalgic tour of places that are mostly off-limits — which, of course, adds to their magnetism.
Delegates Lounge at the United Nations
The Delegates Lounge at the U.N. is our number one East River recommendation. A private smoker’s bar to this day, it offers stiff drinks and stunning river views from a canted panoramic window. The bar and lounge, musty and well worn, still reek of past style and power. It’s the sort of place where, in the ‘70s, the chic modernist furniture would have sat the likes of Princess Bagaaya of Uganda flanked by her spear-wielding bodyguards while taking a break from her ambassadorial duties. At the time, it was open to the public at happy hour, but these days your best bet of getting in is to work for an N.G.O. — or to date a U.N. official.
New York 1964 World’s Fair Ground
The remains of New York’s 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow Park, Queens are testament to one of the most grandiose plans of a grandiose planner, Robert Moses. (See a documentary clip of Moses talking about the fair here.) The land also has some noteworthy literary pedigree: it once served as the city ash dump mentioned by F. Scott Fitzgerald in “The Great Gatsby.” These days, you can still see the super-chromed Unisphere, Philip Johnson’s New State Pavilion and the Port Authority’s hovering helicopter pad cum cocktail lounge (called “Drinks Around the World”; 120 ft above ground). It’s a tawdry imperial vision that’s hard not to love, even if it is currently reduced to an odd sight seen from a cab on the way to and from J.F.K. Airport.
The Cloud Club
Perched on top of one of New York’s most elegant skyscrapers, the Chrysler Building, the Cloud Club is an Art Déco masterpiece sans pareil. A sleeping beauty waiting to be kissed to life, it’s a former men’s-only club famous for its black bean soup and the high-flying executives who used to slurp it there before it closed in the late ‘70s. Matthew Barney filmed part of “Cremaster 3″ at the Cloud Club, but your only chance to see it in person is if you’re invited to a private party, for which parts of it can still be rented.
McCarren Pool, Williamsburg
If you want to reenact a few scenes from “Ciao, Manhattan,” in which Edie Sedgwick’s character lived in an empty swimming pool, visit McCarren Pool before it’s soon restored to its former glory. Also designed under Robert Moses, through public initiatives created by the New Deal, the massive facility opened in 1936 to hold 6,800 swimmers. The over-the-top gatehouse — a cross between the machismo of Italian fascism and the colonial largesse of British India — has taken to graffiti over the years like a fish to water. The writing on these walls makes for a gorgeous and now endangered setting. Your last chance to see the pool in its current state is over the summer, perhaps during an M.I.A. concert, or a screening of “Desperately Seeking Susan.”
More than anything, off-limits architecture is not only an exercise of power, but also a flight of the heart. And that’s exactly what we learned from watching this stunning performance of Phoebe Legere (Hunter S. Thompson’s ex-bride). It’s our final video for the week, and it shows her on an effortless hunt for clashing environments, all on the wings of love: