The Roosevelt Island Redevelopment Project, a competition entry prepared by Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, offers a more straightforward transformation of the city’s architectural typologies. Four identical stepped blocks rise on the waterfront of the East River island. Between them run extensions of the city street grid bordered by low-rise “synthetic brownstones” with stoops, postmodern facades, and mid-block gardens. Seven monumental towers echo the dimensions of the grid.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Terence Riley, in Matilda McQuaid, ed., Envisioning Architecture: Drawings from The Museum of Modern Art, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 172.
In the mid-1960s there was a movement to redevelop Roosevelt Island, the narrow strip of land in the East River between Manhattan and Queens, which had been dedicated to hospitals, asylums, and prisons since the early nineteenth century. Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis entered a 1974 competition for the north end of the island, with a strategy to map elements, concepts, and typologies based on nearby Manhattan, in contrast to earlier plans, which had ignored the island’s urban context. Thus, they literally extended the city grid between Seventy-first and Seventy-fifth streets to Roosevelt Island. As in Manhattan, Seventy-second Street was to be a main thoroughfare lined with shops and restaurants. Rows of “synthetic brownstones” made from glass, rock, plastic, marble, and aluminum were framed by highrise buildings situated so as to maximize the views.
Publication excerpt from an essay by Bevin Cline and Tina di Carlo, in Terence Riley, ed., The Changing of the Avant-Garde: Visionary Architectural Drawings from the Howard Gilman Collection, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2002, p. 144.