Sunday, March 25, 2012

Another farewell: this one to a man who brought whimsy to Manhattan skyscrapers

My last post said farewell to Barney Rosset, combat publisher of literature and movies that some in the mainstream culture considered obscene. This post bids adieu to urban developer Melvyn Kaufman who did much to add needed whimsy to the skyscrapers of Manhattan.  Mr. Kaufman died at 87 last week.

The photo above is a sculpture called "Big Red Swing." It's in the outdoor lobby area of 777 Third Avenue. It's a good example of the kind of element he liked to have built into his buildings. Kaufman was not an architect--he was a developer--but he was intimately involved in the planning of his buildings. The swing that you see is meant to be sat on and it moves ever so slightly--a delightful reminder of the flow of nature in a carefully constructed, right-angle-dominated world like midtown Manhattan. Here's another view:

Kaufman delighted in the unexpected in his building lobbies and even on his rooftops. At 77 Water Street, Kaufman placed a replica of a World War I biplane. While not visible from the street, anyone in nearby buildings is treated to this most unexpected building adornment.


[Photo credits: top, The City Review; middle, Museum Without Walls; bottom, Rob Bennett [Via WSJ. and found at Curbed, New York]