celebrating what would be paul rudolph’s 100th birthday, designer lasse lyhne-hansen revisits one of the late american architect’s most famous unbuilt proposals: the lower manhattan expressway, one of the last mega plans radically transforming new york city

 

in 1967, rudolph was commissioned by the ford foundation to do a study on the implications of the LOMEX, as it was abbreviated and known back then, a robert moses proposal for a Y-shaped corridor that would have destroyed much of what we now know as soho and tribeca. rudolph’s findings led him to believe that the city did not need a road that would sever midtown from downtown but instead, a building spanning the entire width of manhattan. 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
the plaza leading to the williamsburg bridge

 

 

rudolph’s idea was to use the expressway as a corridor in which to build so much around that the transportation link at the heart of it became irrelevant. he envisioned a megastructure extending all the way across manhattan, attached to it pedestrian plazers, parking lots, units of prefabricated apartments and people movers, connecting the buildings. but the brutalist/metabolist architecture did little to persuade the public on the justification of the road and it was fiercely hated and criticized, fast quashed by efforts led by urban activist jane jacobs – a fate that an older rudolph agreed with. 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
entering the plaza

 

 

in LOMEX revisited, lasse lyhne-hansen has drawn up two areas in birds-eye perspective sections, inspired by iconic imagery from rudolph publications. instead of matching the original viewpoint or finding similar views looking in from outside the structure, the inside of the structure is explored from eye-height, trying to capture the epic image as well as everyday scenes to experience the many facets of the spaces. the composition of the images is based on the deep, central perspective drawing style that paul rudolph mastered.

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
parking level under the expressway

 

 

through the work of translating the drawings to 3D many blanks and inconsistencies were encountered, which is natural for a project that is a study rather than an actual building‘, lyhne-hansen explains of the project’s challenges.the inconsistencies were navigated by researching paul rudolph’s built work and projects and combined the available drawings aiming to bring out the best of the project. for the final translation the projects take on a speculative phase.

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
looking across the structure along columbia st

 

 

in realizing these visualizations, lyhne-hansen accessed the paul rudolph foundation whose key functions include the digitization of rudolph’s work in order to make them easily accessible to the general public. materials are not specified and also not completely obvious but are all inspired by his completed works. missing objects such as handrails, stairs etc. have been designed using a combinations of similar objects from his other buildings and whatever indications existing drawings of the project offer. more information on the scheme, and rudolph’s work, is available via the foundation’s online portal.

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
interior in the highrises

 

 

paul rudolph made a name for himself building lavish villas in Florida in the late 40’ and early 50’ and only a few years later’ he was among the most published and celebrated architects. this ended abruptly when postmodernism led the architectural press to abandoned him completely. most major US clients soon followed suit and paul rudolph went into a sort of architectural exile, spending the last of his career, mainly building in southeast asia. one of Paul rudolph’s largest and also one of the last of his major US projects was the study on the lower manhattan expressway initiated in 1967. a project at the peak of his popularity and influence.

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
terrace in the highrises

 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
the valley of the lowrises

 


the meeting of the sloped superstructure and the vertical city

 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
lowrises original drawing

 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
highrises original drawing

 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
looking up on the cantilevered units

 

architects realise paul rudolph's LOMEX proposal for a new york city that could have been
passage through the lowrises

  • “This plan, unlike most, does not propose to tear down everything in sight; it suggests that we tear down as little as possible,” Rudolph said about the project at the time. Rather than challenging the need for a massive highway that would have destroyed most of SoHo and Tribecca, Rudolph believed architecture could make the most of the given situation. Decades later, a similar scale project – the ‘Big Dig’ in Boston – would install the 1.5 mile-long Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway series of parks and public spaces above its new underground highways.

    Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation says:

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