Behold City Hall Station

Known mostly through the images like those prominently on display at the Museum of the City of New York’s (MCNY) exhibition “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile,” the secret hideaway of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been glimpsed by a few curious New Yorkers looping around on the #6 train at Brooklyn Bridge Station and explored by a lucky handful of (mostly) New York Transit Museum members. On 06.05.14, presidents and members of AIA’s local New York chapters boarded an empty #6 train and toured the abandoned City Hall Station. Led by the MTA’s affable Frank Klimasz, the tour proved the aphorism “not all subway stations are created equal” correct.

When City Hall Station opened in 1904, the southern terminus of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) was the crown jewel of the nascent system. The nontraditional curved platform is bedecked in tiled green and white archways, once-sparkling chandeliers, and intricate glass skylights that dramatically light the underground space. The plaques that commemorate the construction of the underground train system honor architects Heins & LaFarge of St. John the Divine fame, but omit Rafael Guastavino, MCNY’s unsung hero and the true mastermind behind the station’s design (and, coincidentally, the cathedral’s 12-story vaults). Walking through the station, the collective feeling was one of nostalgia: “Why don’t we have spaces like this anymore?” Continue reading “Behold City Hall Station”

Master Mason, Architect, Engineer, Guastavino Emerges from the Shadows

On the evening of 03.25.14, the celebration of Catalan architecture in the city continued with the Museum of the City of New York’s (MCNY) tremendously well-attended exhibition opening for “Palaces for the People: Guastavino and the Art of Structural Tile.”

If you enter a Beaux Arts building constructed between 1881 and 1962 and look up, there is a good chance that you will see a tiled, herringbone-patterned vault designed by the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company. Guastavino resides in the subconscious of New Yorkers, but his name often goes unnoticed, over-shadowed by the famous firms that commissioned his work. Continue reading “Master Mason, Architect, Engineer, Guastavino Emerges from the Shadows”