Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Wainy Wednesday in New Yawk: "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway"

It's Positively 'Brooklyn Bucolic' at Flatbush's Landmark Subway Station

Photo by Tony Napoli
The Landmarked Avenue H Subway Station Gets a Touch of the Down Home with Architect/ Designer/Artist Ed Kopel's "Brooklyn Bucolic" winner of the 2007 Arts in Transit Award from the NYC Transit Authority. Of course, since "postmodernism" has become the new reality, the chairs, "ironically" (ouch) are rendered in Bronze and don't actually rock. But they are a pleasure to the eye, adding a further touch of country-ish charm to the quaint Avenue H subway house.

Artisans at Work: Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry
that rendered designer Ed Kopel's vision

From the Foundry's website: "Brooklyn Bucolic, Kopel’s installation, is inspired by the unique element of the station house’s front fa├žade: it’s wraparound porch. Seven fixed and brightly patinated bronze Shaker style rocking chairs in varying sizes able to accommodate children and adults, scatter the north and east side of the house. Each original rocking chair, slightly different than the next, were hand carved in maple by JP Parnas Woodworking out of Massachusetts. Molds were made of every chairs’ element, followed by waxes, and eventually they were cast in bronze. The subtle bend of the chairs’ profiles up to the detail of the wood texture and lattice woven seats translated beautifully into metal."

Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn asked Mr. Kopel a question about this work and his thoughts on design:

Q: As an architect who is also an artist, is utility important in design?

Mr. Kopel responded: For me, there is no architecture without utility. But how does one define utility or, for that matter, function? Is something considered useful if it provokes a thought or a mood or is just pleasing to look at? I think so but I also think that good design is approachable, understandable, and directly applicable to our everyday lives. So called "paper architecture" may be useful in the academy and may be great design but is not, in my mind, architecture.

More on the foundry that rendered the work here and the designer, architect Ed Kopel here and the New York City Transit Authority's Arts for Transit and Urban Design website here

SIDEBAR: Additional Reading and Background on the Avenue H Station:

Avenue H is a local station on the BMT Brighton Line of the New York City Subway. Located at Avenue H between East 15th and East 16th Streets on the border of Midwood and Flatbush, Brooklyn, it is served by the Q train at all times. Among the many pleasures of our family's move from Fort Greene and Clinton Hill in the late 1990s to Fiske Terrace is the wonderfully pronto, el rapido, subway service that we enjoy, ensuring relatively quick access to the rest of Brooklyn and Manhattan via the Q or B.

The Avenue H station was opened around 1900 as Fiske Terrace, a two-track surface station serving the new planned community of Fiske Terrace in Midwood, Brooklyn. The station house, also known as the headhouse, through which the station is entered, is a landmarked wood frame structure built in 1905 as a real estate office of the T.B. Ackerson Company to sell homes in the new community. It was converted to railroad use in 1907, at the same time that the station was renamed "Avenue H." The campuses of Brooklyn College and Midwood High School are nearby.

In 2003, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced plans to demolish the structure, citing its wood construction as a fire hazard. The community intervened, emphasizing the building's historic importance, architectural significance, connecting to the adjacent community and the fact that several other wooden station houses on the subway system had been given landmark status earlier.

The Old, Pre-Renovation Avenue H Station

On June 29, 2004, the station house was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. This allows renovations inside, but preserves the major structure and exterior. The contract to "restore the landmark station control house" as well as rehabilitation of the platforms and other stations structures was advertised for bids by the MTA for January 2007.

In designating it for Landmark Status, the Commission indicated: "The Avenue H station on the BMT line [...] is the city’s only shingled wooden cottage turned transit station house. Often compared to a country train stop, it originally served as a real estate sales office for developer Thomas Benton Ackerson to sell property in the adjacent neighborhood of Fiske Terrace, an early twentieth century example of planned suburban development. The structure, with a hipped and flared roof and wraparound porch, evokes in miniature the area’s Colonial Revival and Queen Anne houses. After nearly a century of commuter traffic, the Avenue H station remains in service and retains much historic fabric, from a corbelled chimney to peeled log porch columns. It is one of a very small number of wood-frame station houses surviving in the modern subway system, the only station adapted from a structure built for another function, and the only surviving station from Brooklyn’s once-extensive network of surface train lines, which had originally attracted Ackerson and numerous other developers to the area.

--Tony Napoli for Deep in the Heart of Brooklyn

Current Reading

  • Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid that Sparked the Civil War- Tony Horwitz
  • A Sultan in Palermo - Tariq Ali
  • Hitch-22: A Memoir - Christopher Hitchens
  • Negropedia- Patrice Evans
  • Dead Funny: Humor in Nazi Germany - Rudolph Herzog
  • Exile on Main Street - Robert Greenfield
  • Among the Truthers - A Journey Among America's Growing Conspiracist Underworld - Jonathan Kay
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton
  • What Is Your Dangerous Idea? Thinking the Unthinkable - John Brockman
  • Notes from the Edge Times - Daniel Pinchbeck
  • Fringe-ology: How I Can't Explain Away the Unexplainable- Steve Volk
  • Un Juif pour l'exemple (translated as A Jew Must Die )- Jacques Cheesex
  • The God Delusion - Richard Dawkins
  • Pale King - David Foster Wallce
  • David Bowie: Starman bio - Paul Trynka
  • Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat - Andrez Bergen
  • The Future of Nostalgia -Svetlana Boym
  • Living in the End Times - Slavoj ZIzek
  • FIrst as Tragedy Next as Farce - Slavoj Zizek
  • How to Survive a Robot Uprising - Daniel Wilson
  • Where is My Jet Pack? -Daniel Wilson
  • Day of the Oprichniks - Vladimir Sorokin
  • Ice Trilogy - Vladimir Sorokin
  • First Civilizations
  • Oscar Wilde -Andre Maurois
  • The Beats - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • SDS - Harvey Pekar, et al
  • The Unfinished Animal - Theodore Roszak
  • Friends of Eddy Coyle
  • Brooklands -Emily Barton
  • Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahme-Smith - Entertaining and historical
  • Dictionary of the Khazars - Pavic
  • Sloth-Gilbert Hernandez
  • War and Peace- Leo Tolstoy
  • Charles Addams: An Evilution
  • Life in Ancient Greece
  • Time - Eva Hoffmann
  • Violence - S. Zizek
  • Luba - a graphic novel by Gilbert Hernandez
  • Life in Ancient Egypt
  • Great Apes - Will Self - riveting and disturbing
  • Lost Honor of Katherina Blum - Heinrich Boll - could not put it down
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed (author deserving of new wide readership)
  • Living in Ancient Mesopotomia
  • Landscape in Concrete - Jakov Lind - surreal
  • 'There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby'-Ludmilla Petrushevskaya - creepy stories - translation feels literarily "thin"
  • Mythologies - William Butler Yeats (re-read again & again)
  • How German Is It ? - Walter Abish
  • The Book of Genesis - illustrated by R. Crumb - visionary
  • "Flags" - an illustrated encyclopedia - wish I could remember all of these. Flag culture
  • Sirens of Titan - Kurt Vonnegut
  • Ubik - Philip K. Dick
  • Nobody's Fool - Richard Russo
  • Hitler's Empire - Mark Mazower
  • Nazi Culture - various authors
  • Master Plan: Himmler 's Scholars and the Holocaust - Heather Pringle
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem - Hannah Arendt
  • Living in Ancient Rome
  • Traveling with Herodotus -R. Kapuszynsky
  • Oblivion - David Foster Wallace - Some of his greatest work
  • Infinite Jest - David Foster Wallace - still wrestling with this great book
  • Netherland - Joseph O'Neill - staggeringly great read
  • Renegade - The Obama Campaign - Richard Wolffe
  • Mount Analogue - Rene Daumal
  • John Brown
  • Anathem - Neal Stephenson - love Stephenson but tough slogging first few chapters
  • 7 Deadly Sins
  • ALEX COX - Alex Cox
  • FIASCO by Thomas Ricks
  • I, Fellini - Charlotte Chandler & Federico Fellini
  • Best of 20th century alternative history fiction
  • Judah P. Benjamin - Eli Evans - Confederacy's Secretary of State & source of the W.C. Field's exclamation
  • Moscow 2042 - Vladimir Voinovich - Pre-1989 curiosity & entertaining sci fi read; love his portrayal of Solzhenitsyn-like character
  • Gomorrah - Roberto Saviano - Mafia without the It-Am sugar coating. Brutal & disturbing
  • The Sack of Rome - Celebrity+Media+Money=Silvio Berlusconi - Alexander Stille
  • Reporting - David Remnick - terrific journalism
  • Fassbinder
  • Indignation - Philip Roth
  • Rome
  • Let's Go Italy! 2008
  • Italian Phrases for Dummies
  • How to Pack
  • Violence - Slavoj Zizek
  • Dali: Painting & Film
  • The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight - Jimmy Breslin
  • The Good Rat - Jimmy Breslin
  • Spook Country - William Gibson
  • A Blue Hand - The Beats in India - Deborah Baker
  • The Metaphysical Club - Louis Menard
  • Coast of Utopia - Tom Stoppard
  • Physics of the Impossible - Dr. Michio Kaku
  • Managing the Unexpected - Weick & Sutcliffe
  • Wait Til The Midnight Hour - Writings on Black Power
  • Yellow Back Radio Brokedown - Ishmael Reed
  • Burning Down the Masters' House - Jayson Blair
  • Howl - Allen Ginsberg
  • Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Palace Thief - Ethan Canin
  • John Adams - David McCullough
  • The Wooden Sea - Jonathan Carroll
  • American Gangster - Mark Jacobson
  • Return of the King - J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Gawker Guide to Becoming King of All Media
  • Jews and Power - Ruth Wisse
  • Youth Without Youth - Mircea Eliade
  • A Team of Rivals - Doris Goodwin
  • Ghost Hunters -William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death - Deborah Blum
  • Dream -Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy - Stephen Duncombe
  • Love & Theft - Eric Lott
  • Exit Ghost - Philip Roth
  • Studio A - The Bob Dylan Reader

Current Listening

  • Alexi Murdoch Wait
  • Wilco Summer Teeth
  • Wilco The Album
  • Carmina Burana - Ray Manzarek (& Michael Riesmann)
  • Polyrock - Polyrock
  • 96 Tears - Garland Jeffries
  • Ghost of a Chance Garland Jeffries
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra
  • Mustang Sally Buddy Guy
  • John Lee Hooker
  • Black and White Years
  • Together Through Life - B. Dylan
  • 100 Days 100 Nites - Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
  • DYLAN: 3 disc Greatest...
  • Glassworks - Philip Glass
  • Wild Palms - Soundtrack -Ryuichi Sakamoto
  • Dinah Washington - Best of..
  • Commander Cody& His Lost Planet Airmen Live at Armadillo