architecture

Gravity-Defying Pools

Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao's indoor swimming pool

I’m not a great swimmer and I don’t love heights (though I’ve tried to conquer that fear by doing things like leaping off the Macau Tower). But I think I could muster up the courage to spend some timeВ in theВ Holiday Inn Shanghai Pudong Kangqiao‘s swimming pool, pictured above. As you can see, part of it extends over the edge of the hotel–24 stories off the ground–and has a glass bottom, so swimmers are literally floating above the city. I imagine this must be especially thrilling at night, when Shanghai is lit up below.

The Atlantic has more pools in the sky here; scroll to the bottom to check out a truly terrifying shot of Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls. As much as I’d love a shot of me in that guy’s place, I really don’t think I could do it!

Would you swim in one of these pools?

(Photo via The Atlantic)

Would You Live in a Water Tower?

I’m going to answer my own question: Yes. Absolutely. But only if said water tower looked like this:

converted water tower

Tom Dixon, a British design and manufacturing company, converted a 60-foot water tower, in North Kensington, London, into a gorgeous apartment. It has three floors complete with a kitchen, living room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and (sigh of envy) a roof terrace. It’s going for $3,900 a month–which, scarily, isn’t too bad if you compare it to NYC prices for similarly sized digs.

I love how the big windows lets lots of light into the space:

converted water tower

converted water tower

converted water tower

converted water tower

There are tons of water towers in NYC. I’m wondering when someone will convert one into a luxury apartment here on this side of the pond!

converted water tower

(Photos via Gizmag, via Architizer; thanks to Shawn for introducing me to the link)

NYC Rooftops

NYMag.com has an awesome slideshow of photos from a new book, Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces. Architect/photographer/pilot Alex MacLean shot more than 200 buildings from the air, giving viewers a glimpse of the city from a rather elusive vantage point.

There’s definitely aВ voyeuristic appeal to looking into/upon buildings–I’m guilty of scoping out other apartments’ swank terraces and covetable outdoor spaces from high-up windows. (A girl can dream, right?) So I’m definitely planning to check out MacLean’s book.

In the meantime, a few of my favorite images:

MoMA, 11 W. 53rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019

300 E. 34th Street, Manhattan, NY 10016

Brooklyn Grange, 37-18 Northern Blvd., Queens, NY 11101

(Photos via NYMag.com; more on Up on the Roof here)

Reimagining Times Square

This week’s New York MagazineВ contains a really interesting piece about a $45 million plan to overhaul Times Square. According to writer Justin Davidson, the project will begin next fall with the goal of making the area a safer, cleaner, less congested place where New Yorkers may actually want to spend time:

Curbs will vanish. Pedestrian areas will be leveled and clad in tweedy concrete tiles that run lengthwise down Broadway and the Seventh Avenue sidewalks, meeting in an angled confluence of patterns. Nickel-size steel discs set into the pavement will catch the light and toss it back into the brilliant air. Instead of perching on metal chairs, loiterers will be able to sit, lean, sprawl, jump, and stand on ten massive black granite benches up to 50 feet long and five feet wide…the square will be de-В­cluttered of the traffic signs, bollards, cones, and boxes that cause foot traffic to seize up. With any luck, crowds will gather and mingle only in the center plain between the benches, leaving free-flowing channels on either side for the rest of us,В who have somewhere to be, people!

Like most New Yorkers, I try to skirt Times Square at all costs. Due to unavoidable day-to-day circumstances, though–working in an office right in the middle of it, needing to cut from east side to west–I’ve found myself there more than I’d have liked, over the years. My typical M.O. is to weave around gaping tourists and get out as soon as possible. But I’ll admit that I’ve had surprising moments when I could see the appeal in the whole gaudy, flashy, over-commercialized, crowded sensory overload.В During a particularly long, cold winter, I was shocked to find comfort in the brightness and buzzy energy as I’d rush across the southern end of the square, several times a week. And when you think of how tourists must feel when they first step into Times Square, surrounded by all those lights and people, you can imagine that it must be exhilarating. (Or, at least I can. I remember how wowed I was the first time I saw the Hong Kong skyline which, like Times Square, is just a slew of neon signs set against a dramatic backdrop of buildings, when it comes down to it.)

Tourist empathy aside, I don’t know if I’d ever intentionally spend time in the area. Even with the planned changes, I don’t think it’ll appeal to me. There’ll still be the massive chain restaurants, over-the-top signs, blatant commercialism, crowds. But if, like the NY Mag article hopes, the new design eases congestion, contains the masses and opens up thoroughfares for us locals, then I’ll gladly welcome it. I’m fine handing over the bulk of Times Square to tourists–as long as I have somewhere to walk.

(Image via NYMag)