Straight lines in red white and blue

New York City: Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi

The tree-shaded Zucotti Park is special in many ways, and one of these is the combined visual effect of art and architecture around it. The oldest of these is the Red Cube, a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi. The 7.3 meter tall piece was installed in 1964. I stood at the corner of the open plaza on Broadway, where it sits, and tried to frame it in my camera. The photo above seemed to be the best way to take it (the man in the red shirt was a welcome coincidence). Later I read that Noguchi planned this piece to draw your eyes up towards the vertical architecture surrounding it.

Noguchi is often quoted as saying “The spaces around buildings should be treated in such a way as to dramatize and make the space meaningful.” From a student of Brancusi, this does not sound pompous. Even less so when you stand near this painted block of steel and see how effectively it manages to fulfil this manifesto. The cylindrical hole in the middle of the piece is a widely used visual trope in such monumental sculpture which is meant to make it lighter, both visually and in actual fact.

New York City: 4 World Trade Center

At the other end of the park is a usable sculpture which is 298 meters tall. This is the building called Four World Trade Center, designed by Fumihiko Maki following an overall redevelopment plan for the area by Daniel Libeskind. The building was completed in 2013. It seemed to shimmer and disappear into the sky as I looked at it. I later discovered that this is part of the design, accomplished by tapering the facades gently. The use of optically thin glass sheets also floods the interior with light. I walked around it: the building covers a whole block on each side. There are many interesting things built into the design, including rainwater harvesting, and partial use of clean energy. The 69th floor was initially opened to street artists, eventually giving rise to a controversy. Forbes and one of the artists, Hyperallergic, give two sides of the story. There could be others.


Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

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