photo: Robert Frank, “Elevator — Miami,1955”


by Laura Knight-Keating

Today I have a number of random thoughts about the city of New York. Some about architecture, some about other things.  I’ve lived here for the better part of twenty years and as I wander around the city streets I never stop wondering…WHAT are all these people doing?!  What is going on in all of these buildings? Why are you people walking so slow??

Whenever I enter a building I have never been in before – and for that matter even buildings I know and love – one of my favorite things is when the elevator doors open on a floor that isn’t my floor and I get this momentary glimpse into another world.  Random yoga studios, production offices, casting agencies, furniture showrooms, small design firms of all varieties and architecture offices tucked into 4th floors, 8th floors, 11th floors all over town. Sometimes the offices are so beautifully designed or intriguing in some way that when the doors open, I almost forget why I am even in this elevator – I want to hop off and look around!

There is no way I will ever know what everyone is doing in New York City and would I really want to know?  Probably not… The city is constantly evolving. This past fall, Lauren and I took this amazing lecture series at Cooper Union called The City Transformed: Part I. It’s all about New York City and how it grew from a haphazardly constructed fort on the tip of the island to the architectural masterpiece it is today. I am fascinated by the number of amazing buildings that have been constructed and demolished and constructed again all for the purpose of forcing the world to see us the way we want to be seen.

Our teacher was very fond of saying – ‘this is how we do things in America’ – we make something beautiful, we change our minds, we tear it down and we start over and make something even better. In the 19th century some massive, ornate, incredible buildings were built only to stand for twenty to thirty years before being replaced by new buildings – ‘this is how we do things in America’. That may have been true in the 19th century but thankfully now we make every effort to redesign, reuse and recycle our beautiful buildings. We have recently been working a lot in Brooklyn and the waterfront there is being totally reused and transformed. Check it out. And to top it all off, Spring has finally arrived. New York City…just endlessly fascinating!


Studio V’s plans for Empire Stores on the Brooklyn Waterfront

Here’s the link to our class:

Search for inspiring Spring palettes on this super fun color resource. My first architecture friend, Amelia Falco, turned me onto it:

TAG/Laura Knight Keating