Unfortunate progress is being made on the new Cambria Suites at 125 West 28th Street, which will complete Chelsea’s Great Wall of Kaufman – both adjacent towers are Kauftrocities, as is the building behind 125 West 28th in the above photos.
The situation in Chelsea is becoming quite serious, as budget hotels continue to proliferate – cheap hotels are not necessarily bad, but in this case they are very detrimental to New York’s urban fabric given the poor quality of their ugly facades, treatment of the street-wall, and general lack of regard for context or aesthetics.
The stretch of 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues is verging on a total architectural loss, and 125 West 28th is the fourth new abomination on the block. Despite this, declaring neighborhoods with an abundance of pre-war architecture historic is not the solution, as New York is not frozen in time like Venice or Paris, and many historic structures are just as ugly as their modern counterparts.
The ugliness of these new projects isn’t entirely the fault of the developers or the architects, as the city ultimately issues the permits for these new buildings, which are inside the zoning envelope – political leaders bear just as much culpability for the development trends epitomized on 28th Street.
No easy solution exists, but widespread zoning reform is an obvious necessity – the new hotels may be occupied by tourists, but it is New Yorkers that will have to look at them on a day to day basis. Exchanging FAR bonuses for context and conformity would be an excellent start, as the height of these new buildings is not the problem – it is their interaction with the street, and their garishly heinous facades.