Examples of Postmodern Architecture in New York City


What began as a strong critique of Modern minimalism now dominates the international architectural arena. Postmodernism swiftly replaced pure modernism as the favored design paradigm of capitalist firms seeking progressive credentials; it has fused architectural traditions into a mishmash of token homage to the past. The paradoxical relationship between Postmodernism and the high-rise type is evident in New York City, where the skyscraper has repeatedly found its best architectural form.

New York’s Boldest Postmodern Architecture Collection

In recent decades, a fresh wave of appealing Postmodern buildings has sprung up in New York. These remarkable buildings have joined the New York’s architectural landscape, bringing spice to its rich architectural styles. Postmodernism was a protest against the Modernist design strict form. Postmodernism wanted independence from rules. An eclectic mashup of cut-and-paste techniques resulted in buildings resembling disparate symbols and allusions collages. Although Postmodernism is a strange word in many architectural societies a few daring, outspoken architects claim it with pride, they believed there is much to be learned from a movement that reflected its times. Some examples of Postmodern architecture in New York have been included in this list to highlight the distinctive features that range from garish neoclassical to more subtle expressions.

1. Bronx County Courthouse

Bronx Country Courthouse

The Hall of Justice, a court and office facility, was completed in 2008. Although, Rafael Violy, skeptical of Postmodernism, may dispute the classification of the building as post modernism example; however, the design of the Hall of Justice isn’t overly ornate or a mashup of styles. It has postmodern stylistic flair and symbolism. The front facade’s accordion-shaped glass pattern adds texture and depth. Glass tends to imply transparency and brightness. A courtyard on the inside lot transitions into the neighborhood to the north, displaying sensitivity to its environment that Modernist buildings typically lack. The building’s surroundings highlight the Hall of Justice’s postmodern elements. The jagged glass facade contrasts with its Modernist neighbor’s plain limestone street wall, the Family and Criminal Court House.

2. Bronx Terminal Market’s Gateway Center

Bronx Terminal Market

Bronx Terminal Market, initially established in 2009 near Yankee Stadium, has postmodern elements. Hodgepodge facade surfaces, hues, and shapes visually break up a monolithic tower. Such elaborate and whimsical features are well-suited for retail structures that aim to entice shoppers. Even so, this postmodern piece refers to another style. Postmodernism’s inherent eclecticism allows lowbrow and highbrow to cohabit here.

3. Raymond Abraham’s Austrian Cultural Forum (2002)

A unique solution to New York’s setback regulations, this 24-story thin high-rise in midtown Manhattan includes a cascading curtain wall punctuated by symmetrical triangular appendages. Only a few Austrian-born Abraham’s completed ideas have been realized. This one was intended to reflect the country’s cultural heritage while also being an ingeniously functionalist vertical arrangement of programmatic requirements.

4. Center for Children’s Mental Health in the Bronx

Designed in a jazz-inspired pattern, the 2015 Bronx Child and Family Mental Health Center features a facade of vertical earth tone panels. The sheer panels allow in light while keeping seclusion. The project entailed expanding a three-story, brick-faced, wood-frame building on Courtland Avenue near The Hub. It was reconstructed as a five-story building, and the facade makes it look like one building. New fixtures and furnishings create a bright interior.

5. Bronx Library Center

Postmodern designs are limited at the Bronx Library Center on East Kingsbridge Road. Dattner Architects seems to adopt a Postmodern concept of “less is more” Its embellishments include a glass curtain wall that slightly extends from the ground level front face and a concave roof that resembles the Nike swoosh in profile. The 2006 Bronx Library Center’s considerable use of glass lets in natural light, contrasting with older stone or brick libraries. The third-floor reading deck provides direct access to sunshine. The Bronx Library Center has artwork lights the stairwell from the ground floor to the concourse level.

6. Condé Nast Building or 4Times Square

4Times Square

Designed by the 42nd Street Development Corporation, a public/private coalition that aims to revitalize Manhattan’s 42nd Street, the Condé Nast Building, a 48-story office tower, serves as the plan’s focus. On the side facing Broadway, the office tower takes on Times Square’s energetic and vibrant character, while on the side facing 42nd Street, it adopts the more sober qualities of the business community in midtown Manhattan. In terms of environmental responsibility, the Condé Nast Building stands out. The building’s construction and day-to-day operations were subject to rigorous procedures to keep these high standards.

7. Building Reuters

A few blocks north of 1 Times Square and the Paramount Building is the new home of Reuters. The skyscraper has a square-grid front and a wide, curving glass wall at 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue. The top of the tower, with a high-tech radio spire, salutes the Empire State Building while the base serves pedestrians. Dissolved in its reflections, this skyscraper is no more than an undefined mass that surfs and retransmits the energy of Times Square. The eco-friendly Durst Organization, one of the few commercial patrons of architecture working at this scale, commissioned the architects to transform this hyper-urban setting into an environmentally responsible environment with indoor air quality that approaches rural Vermont. The design is a skillful architecture that is sensitive to its dynamic setting. Reuters dances wildly with the city.

8. Burgee and Johnson’s Takashimaya Building

This little yet rigorous infill structure on Fifth Avenue is an exquisite example of contemporary details, construction, and craftsmanship. The classical limestone, granite, and glass facade has double-height windows with gridded mullions and bowing columns. New owners added a glass façade to the first few floors to facilitate changing retail usage, marring this contemporary grab-bag.

9. Equitable Tower West by Edward Larrabee Barnes

The impressive office tower on Midtown’s Seventh Avenue, with its 54 floors, 752 feet of height, and 1.5 million square feet of space, was an extension of the prominent office district between Sixth and Park Avenues to the west. Inspired by the increasingly prevalent enclosed public spaces, Barnes’ tower featured a privately owned public atrium filled with commissioned artworks. Johnson’s postmodern landmark to the East, the building’s piers are reinforced steel coated in brown granite with beige limestone spandrels and a pair of large semicircular windows.

10. The World Financial Center by César Pelli

An enclosed “Winter Garden” stocked with palm trees and other plant species connects the World Financial Center’s four office towers. With their saw-toothed glass, granite facades, and unusual roof shapes, the office towers were designed to mitigate the starkness of the now-demolished Twin Towers.

check out our other post about Famous Architects and Their Works.

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