(image from http://www.vladi-private-islands.de)
(image from http://www.homesofbrooklyn.com)
The scary thing about the newer Rockefeller center buildings is that from Times Square they look kind of like the perished World Trade Center towers. If you add outright “satanistic” “999 Pharmaceutical” and “DOG” ads and a jet plane trail, the picture becomes even scarier.
The skyscraper with the globe on top is called the Paramount Building. The building has a mountain like shape and the little stars on the illuminated clock face look like the stars on Paramount Pictures logo:
That building used to have a kick ass movie theater on the ground floor, the kind described in my favorite sci-fi story of all time, Henry Kuttner’s “The Proud Robot”. Now it houses WWF store and NY Times offices. WWF undertook an amazingly complex project of rebuilding the original theater marquee:
“Working with the New York City Landmark Commission was a prolonged challenge in replicating the historic sign. Purists on the Landmark Commissions often push for exact replications Â right down to the materials involved. But Tobin & Parnes had ideas for bringing the epic sign into the 21st century using new materials and technologies.
The commission initially rejected the idea to use LED technology in 1996, but later approved the concept as more signs in the surrounding area started incorporating LEDs. “
Multimedia Signage Inc. in California manufactured the signage that boasts the highest resolution ever achieved. The LED pixels and cells have a .45 pitch. The highest resolution before this sign was created was .75 pitch.
In order to get TV quality resolution on these screens we needed to go with that .45 pitch, otherwise the resolution would only give you a clear image of someone from their shoulders to the top of their head,ï¿½? said Ms. Dibner. â€œUsing the .45 pitch we can get almost the whole person in there.ï¿½?
But how do you use technology without distracting from the historical detail of the sign? It was something that many were not sure could be achieved using LED technology because the sign curved up and down. But the Landmark Commission demanded that the signâ€™s original curvature be replicated.
The solution: using very small diodes and arranging them to match the curve. The result: any image on the sign curves with the curvature of the marquee with no distortion, another requirement of the Landmark Commission. ”
I just love the topic of new technology meeting the old. But Landmark Commission people are nasty engineer hating snobs.
Turns out the Lehman Brothers led display is modular. One morning I’ve seen the maintenance people changing some burned out leds.
Some interesting stuff I learned from http://videosystems.com/ar/video_new_dimensions/ :
One Reality Check project involves a corporate installation in Times Square in New York City. It’s a huge, animated sign on the side of the Lehman Brothers building. The sign shows a mix of animation, information, messages, and mood based on changes in market news, the weather, time of day, or Lehman’s discretion.
The sign is a huge system of LEDs, 5340Ã—736, that stretches vertically from the third floor to the fifth floor of the building. Horizontally, the sign wraps around the building from halfway down the 49th Street side across the entire length of building facing Times Square, then halfway down the 50th Street side. Uniquely, the building’s windows are not obscured by the sign. Rather, the sign is built around them.
By incorporating the sign into the building’s facade, the architects, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, followed the letter and the spirit of a new city ordinance pushed by then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. That ordinance required any new construction in Times Square to have electronically lit signage with a size compensatory to the size of the building. While on many buildings those signs are little more than placards jutting off a facade â€” a giant Coke bottle or lit billboard â€” the Lehman Brothers building is itself an electronic sign.
Of course, the odd shape of three large horizontal bands connected by narrow vertical bands of LEDs between the windows of the building begs non-standard content. There are no 4:3 video images here to captivate the tourists.
The sign is kind of cool. I sometimes go to the Starbucks across the street to sit there and watch it.
Every time I look at the Citicorp building I can’t help but think that it only stands there because LeMessurier did the right thing back then. And because of some luck.
And I look at it a lot. Unfortunately I never worked in it, but I’ve attended an organ concert in the St Peter’s Church that sits under it.
I really like seeing this building in the morning. The rising steam makes it look like a rocket. I still don’t know what generates the steam. Probably a cooling plant or something. It’s not the GE building like I mentioned earlier though. It’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Get to the top of the Empire State Building? Check.
The triangle in this picture is formed by my favorite skyscraper of all times — the Flatiron Building.
My fascination with the Flatiron started when I read O.Henry’s “Little Speck in Garnered Fruit” (in Russian translation, of course).
Here is the quote that interested me:
The druggist made an examination. “It isn’t broken,” was his diagnosis, “but you have a bruise there that looks like you’d fallen off the Flatiron twice.”
The translation went something like “your face looked like it was flattened by the Flatiron Building”, but that doesn’t matter.
I’ve never seen a picture of the Flatiron, but reading that story, I tried to imagine what it looked like. Upon seeing the building in Manhattan 5 years later, I instantly realized what it was.
But wait, there is more.
In the first couple of years of the Internet boom I learned about Flatiron Partners, a venture capitalist partnership. At the time I did not even know who venture capitalists were. These guys had a really crappy site though. I wrote them an email, offering to code a better looking website for free, because I liked the Flatiron Building so much. I even got a response, thanking me for my offer, and saying that they were working with some professionals on the new version.
Soon, when I was working at iXL, I actually did some very light coding on their site anyway. iXL was the company that got their account. Talk about destiny, huh? :)
Starting a new series – Surfaces of New York City
Surface of a trapdoor that leads to a store basement
I went to buy myself something to eat, and lo a behold: Christie’s is having a collectors’ car exhibition at Rockefeller Center.
I wonder, in the time of those cars, would the pedestrians rather be disemboweled by this
I just purchased an awesome book called “Invisible New York : The Hidden Infrastructure of the City”. As any hacker I am fascinated with all hidden technological things : tunnels, shafts, silos, generators, abandoned buildings. This book is a photographic essay about what the author calls “Serving Places” of New York City — things like abandoned subway stations, abandoned missile silos (turns out there are some in the Bronx), water system tunnels and valve rooms. Unfortunately the author did not include a “lost”subway station underground near Brooklyn College or bowels of Flatiron Building with its one of a kind pneumatic elevator system. The cover of the book features an absolutely amazing shot of a spiral staircase.