On Thursday, I looked at the way in which cultural institutions tend to spend a huge amount of money on architecture, even if they would be better off spending that money more directly on their missions. In response, I got a fascinating email from a professor at NYU, asking me about its plan to spend some $6 billion on a hugely ambitious construction project — one which is fiercely opposed by local residents and NYU faculty.
In 2002, Richard Florida published The Rise of the Creative Class, and created a whole cottage industry of people — himself foremost among them — flying around the country and the world, telling cities how to attract creative people and thereby thrive. In truth, however, these cities didn’t need much persuading. Between 1998 and 2001, expenditure on creative-industry construction projects — theaters, museums, performing arts centers — quadrupled, from a little over $400 million per year to almost $1.8 billion. Here’s the chart, from Set in Stone, a major new research project from the University of Chicago’s Cultural Policy Center:
Aditya Chakrabortty doesn’t like the Shard, the huge new skyscraper nearing completion next to London Bridge station, across the river from the City of London. It’s certainly a monument to the 0.01%: owned by the government of Qatar, and featuring Michelin-starred restaurants catering to guests at the five-star hotel; the hedge-fund managers who will rent out the office space; and of course the plutocrats in the 10 monster apartments (for sale at prices starting at $47 million or so).
Many congratulations to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is about to snare the most glamorous and high-profile anchor tenant possible for its flagship 1 World Trade Center property. But the Port Authority is getting more than just the whiff of high fashion here. Charles Bagli reports that Condé Nast is going to pay “an estimated $2 billion over 25 years” for 1 million square feet in the building: that’s a lot of money.
Many thanks to Joe Nocera for raising the issue of One World Trade Center’s finances. It’s by far the tallest and most expensive building that New York has ever seen, and it’s no thing of beauty, either. Plus, there’s not nearly enough demand for new top-grade office space to justify building so much of it at this location and at this time. So what exactly is the Port Authority thinking?
A few weeks ago I noticed an armed private security guard outside the new Bank of America tower on 42nd Street; today there were two, both sporting Wackenhut logos on their shoulders. These aren’t some paramilitary Hercules team sporting machine guns, they’re just guys with sidearms patrolling the sidewalk in front of a bank. Which might be normal in Charlotte, I don’t know, but is certainly not something I ever remember seeing in NYC. Any idea what purpose these guys are meant to be serving? And are they going to be there permanently?