MoMA Architecture Scavenger Hunt

New York is not usually seen as a great city for architecture.

Above, the Ansonia Hotel. Photo: Jeffrey Zeldman

The Central Synagogue

You’ve got to pilfer the city to find its great buildings.

Photo: Hobo Matt

Paley Park

To celebrate the MoMA’s summer of architecture, the museum teamed up with Foursquare to create an architectural scavenger hunt of New York City.

Photo: Aleksandr Zykov

Paley Park

The 21 buildings on the list, the MoMA writes, are "landmarks of modern architecture."

Lever House

The selection of the buildings references two retrospectives of the architects Henri Labrouste and Le Corbusier currently on show at the MoMA.

Photo: Christopher Macsurak

109 Prince Street

The structures each bear the influence of Labrouste or Le Corbusier.

Photo: edenpictures

Battery-Maritime Building

Sites like the Battery-Maritime Building…

Photo: Margaret Napier

New York Public Library

…the New York Public Library…

Photo: melanzane1013

Macy's 34th Flagship

…and Macy’s Herald Square…

Bayard-Condict Building

…and the Bayard-Condict Building all feature ornamental details and structural innovations characteristic of Labrouste’s work.

Photo: J0N6

Alexander Hirsch Townhouse

The rest of the list, however, is more heavily skewed to the influence of Le Corbusier’s brand of modernism.

Photo: Liz Waytkus

Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III Guest House

Smaller projects such as Philip Johnson’s guest house for Mrs. John D. Rockefeller…

Photo: cnewtoncom

Morris Sanders House and Office

…the Morris Sanders House…

Vivian Beaumont Theater

…and larger ones like Eero Saarinen’s Vivian Beaumont Theater incorporate elements of Le Corbusier’s work, including the use of pilotis and free facades.

Photo: Broadway Tour.

Rockefeller Center

Both Rockefeller Center…

Photo: Christopher Chan

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village

…and the city’s brick high-rise housing projects, like those at Stuyvesant Town, reflect the principles of Franco-Swiss architects urbanism.

Photo: Marianne O’Leary

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village

Canonical New York buildings like Mies’s Seagram Building and SOM’s Lever House owe less to Le Corbusier, but they’re included anyway.

Photo: Ciccio Pizzettaro

Co.Design

MoMA And Foursquare Team Up For An Architecture Scavenger Hunt

Find New York’s best architecture with a little social-networking help.

By all accounts, New York is a great city, but you’d be hard-pressed to say that it’s a great city for architecture. New York—by which most mean to say Manhattan—is not defined by its iconic buildings in the way that a metropole like Chicago or even L.A. is. For every Empire State Building or UN Building, you get several more off-puttingly pastiche eyesores. You really have to wade through a lot of junk before stumbling on an architectural gem.

The search, however, is part of experiencing Manhattan and its totalizing grid. Still, for the harried tourist without knowledge of the cardinal directions, MoMA has made the chore of sightseeing that much easier. The museum recently teamed up with Foursquare to bring you New York’s ultimative architectural scavenger hunt. The guide consists of 21 “landmarks of modern architecture,” featuring buildings that exhibit aesthetic, tectonic, and construction qualities affiliated with the Modern movement.

More specifically, the curated list of buildings focuses on those that bear the influence of proto-modern architect Henri Labrouste and his modernist successor Le Corbusier. The MoMA’s current architectural program is dedicated to retrospectives of both architects. The exhibitions, “Henri Labrouste: Structure Brought to Light” and “Le Corbusier: An Atlas of Modern Architecture,” offer new insights into the legacies of Labrouste and Corbu; the former’s work paved the way for a modern architecture, while the latter, often regarded as the high priest of abstract, functional modernism, reinvigorated the movement with artistic and humanistic dimensions.

All of MoMA’s selections are in Manhattan, with the majority of the buildings clustered between Sixth and Lexington Avenues. The list, much of which includes corporate office towers, is more skewed to the influence of Le Corbusier than that of Labrouste. Rockefeller Center is noted for its “resemblance” to the blocks of Corbu’s utopian urban project, the Ville Radieuse (“Radiant City”). An obscure townhouse on the Upper East Side by Corbu disciple Paul Rudolph sports a free facade—an “invention” of the Franco-Swiss architect—that reveals the interiors to the street and sidewalks outside. The UN campus is an absolute must, of course, being the only building to have been designed, in part, by the master himself.

As for Labrouste, the obvious reference is the New York Public Library, whose grandeur can be compared to the architect’s paradigmatic Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève Nacionale. The Beaux-Arts facade of Grand Central terminal has, in MoMa’s description, “a sense of lightness similar to that achieved in Labrouste’s buildings.”

Check in at these archi-locations, and visitors will receive a $5 discount off admission fare. The scavenger hunt lasts through July 31, so get archi-spotting!

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1 Comments

  • Hillary Foss

    LOVE this! Every city should have this!!! San Francisco, I'm talking to you!