Money & Architecture — Midtown Manhattan & Postmodern Judaism

(“The Cohen Building” 135 E. 57th Street & Lexington)

A bit more from mid-town Manhattan the other day. This is what they used to call “postmodernism” in architecture in the 1970s. Note the odd forms, the un-functional design elements, the columns and art inside the lobby nodding to some pecuilar vision of the classical past. The deep dip in the facaded is its most remarkable element, the suspended ring figure in the plaza its most ridiculous. It’s not a very likable building, or it it just might be the neighborhood. The look to the antiquarian past I don’t find persuasive or compelling. It strikes me as arbitrary and gaudy. With it’s own eye on the past, is this what postmodern Judaism and postmodern Jewish thought look like? Inside and outside, it always amazes me how cheap a lot of money can make a thing look. For a more informed discussion of the building’s architecture, I’m attaching this link. It’s a very intelligent review, although I’m not as sure as the author as to judging the building’s “elegance.” 

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About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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3 Responses to Money & Architecture — Midtown Manhattan & Postmodern Judaism

  1. i walk past that building every day. it is a strange building in an area overrun by chain stores.

    • zjb says:

      Do you like it? I’m wondering what the effect of the building would be on you on a regular basis. Does it grow on you? In a “good” way or a “bad” way?

      • Actually the more I see it, the less I enjoy it. Although that section of the city is not aesthetically pleasing at all, I dislike that building in particular. The construction around it makes it look even worse. It seems out of place to me.

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