Design

To Celebrate Archtober, the WSWD Staff Picks Our Favorite NYC Buildings

These are the architectural (big) apples of our eye.

Photo courtesy of New York Public Library

One World Trade, Eiffel Tower, the Shard. All of these very different buildings have one crucial thing in common: They represent their respective cities. Although restaurants, entertainment, and other fast-paced action may be what draws the tourists, ultimately good design is what truly makes a good city. In honor of Archtober, New York City’s month-long celebration of architecture and design, the WSWD staff has rounded up our favorite works of concrete and steel (and other materials!) in the Empire City. Take a virtual stroll with us, won’t you?

Woolworth Building, Financial District

I have always been in awe of this architectural gem and the history of Frank Woolworth as the most prominent retail tycoon of the 20th century. The fact that it was at one time the tallest skyscraper in the world is also fascinating. Of course, many of us fondly remember the Woolworth five-and-dimes. —Carolyn Innocenzi, experience planner

Herman Behr Mansion, Brooklyn Heights

It looks like someone started building a castle and then ran out of castle parts and proceeded to build a house on top of it. —Ally Schenker, editorial assistant 

Herman Behr Mansion. / Photo courtesy of Lesley Snyder/Facebook

Boathouse in Prospect Park, Prospect Park

The Boathouse in Prospect Park houses the only urban-area Audubon Center in the country. My family has had years of wonderful afternoons in and around this gorgeous building, going on boat rides, holding Madagascar hissing cockroaches, and taking in the beautiful view of the lake from the second-floor veranda. —Patty Onderko, executive editor

Alwyn Court Building, Midtown West

I worked near Columbus Circle for three years and would walk by this building every day. In New York, we’re so caught up in our own lives and oftentimes don’t pay attention to the beautiful architecture surrounding us. This is one of the buildings in the city I purposefully look out for. I absolutely love the facade; I grab a croissant and a coffee at Petrossian and imagine how elegant it must have been living in Alwyn Court in the early 1900s. —Carolina Ramirez, partnerships

Alwyn Court Building. / Photo courtesy of Delaney Artist/Facebook

Hamilton Grange National Memorial, Hamilton Heights

I first observed the memorial late one winter evening after sharing a few cocktails with friends at the aptly named Grange Bar and Eatery just two blocks away. There was something rather euphoric about seeing this small part of history. It’s like looking at a piece of the past sitting right in the middle of the present. I purposely walk by there whenever I’m in the Heights. —Josh Hernandez, experience planner

The Oculus, Financial District

I really like the Oculus. I mean, it’s more about the inside. It’s one of the very few modern buildings in NYC that has a feel to it and doesn’t look like a weird glass Lego (even though it is a Star Trek mall). On a few occasions, I have wandered around there late at night testing out the acoustics—lots of clapping, high-and-low-pitch tock sounds from my mouth, and whistling. It really carries sound strangely. Probably not ideal for live music, but you could make some really cool sound recordings. —Mark Romano, database guru 

The Oculus. / Photo courtesy of Raniero Tazzi/Facebook

The Foundry,  Long Island City

A beautiful respite from a desolate part of the neighborhood, you know you’ve found it when you find the castlelike structure covered in crawling bucolic vines. Dramatic archways, hidden little nooks, and sun-splashed spaces add to the magic of the place—not to mention the Japanese-inspired bathrooms. —Jess Bender, food expert

Photo courtesy of The Foundry/Yelp

Litchfield Villa, Prospect Park

A mysterious-looking, 19th-century mansion built for a railroad and real-estate magnate, Litchfield Villa could have been featured in any number of Wes Anderson movies. It’s easy to imagine his Tenenbaums drinking and bickering just past the impressive arched doorway. I’ve never been inside, but if I ever make it there, I hope to find Xavier Cugat turning on the hi-fi, the martinis cold as winter, and the gowns sequined just so. This building, like much of New York City’s best architecture, inspires fantasies that feel real. —Mac Montandan, editorial director 

The Guggenheim, Upper East Side

I know this choice is clichéd, but as a kid visiting New York all the way from Florida, I thought the building was magical inside and out. Years later, the Gug still makes for a seamless, exciting way to experience artit’s so sleek. —Hannah Meier-Katkin, editorial intern

Courtesy of Guggenheim Museum

New York Public Library, Midtown West

It’s a building filled top to bottom with nothing but books. What’s not to love? —Danielle Murphy, associate editor

A Brooklyn House, Park Slope

Amid the apartment buildings and brownstones, even, occasionally, between retail spaces and restaurants, there are honest-to-god houses, some with siding and gables and, amazingly, front porches in Park Slope. These houses are often much smaller than the surrounding structures, towered over by their neighbors like a toddler at a backyard barbecue, but every now and then a few sit perfectly to scale, shoulder to shoulder with their more uniform, less assuming cousins. One of my favorites of these structures is on Garfield Place in Park Slope. Alanna O, WSWD writer

A Park Slope paradise. / Photo by Sayaka Ueno