Eye of the Beholder

Written by | Miscellaneous

As a longtime resident of New York City’s Greenwich Village, I’ve seen the neighborhood undergo dramatic changes in recent decades. One part where this is particularly evident is the Meatpacking District. I remember a time when walking through that area at night was a dicey proposition.

But over the last 10 or 20 years, it went from sides of beef on hooks to designer clothes in storefront windows. It’s also now a destination for food lovers, boasting draws like the Chelsea Market and, more recently, the new Gansevoort Market, where you can visit food stalls offering everything from lobster rolls to tacos. The place would be unrecognizable if you only knew it from years ago.

And it keeps on evolving. I was blown away when a train-platform-turned-metropolitan-oasis, the High Line, first opened in 2009, and it has continued to impress with the opening of each additional extension — including its northernmost and most recent addition, a beautiful park near the Jacob Javits Center. Meanwhile, at the southernmost end of the High Line, there is another new addition: the new home of the Whitney Museum of American Art. However, unlike the trendy eateries and fashion-forward boutiques, I’m not sure how much it’s doing for the look of the neighborhood.

That’s not to say I don’t appreciate its value. It’s great that, by moving from its old home on the Upper East Side, the museum will be able to share more of its unparalleled collection — plus mount more special exhibitions and performances. However, the Renzo Piano–designed building — which feels to me like a hodgepodge of glass panels and industrial metal — just doesn’t have the appeal of a modern masterpiece like the mid-century styled Guggenheim to me. But that’s just my opinion, and I understand that (like many of the great pieces on display within the Whitney itself) works of architecture are subjective: sure to turn on some and turn off others.

With that, I’m pleased to welcome you to the Design Issue, our annual celebration of one of the most subjective topics around. Though not all the artists and designers we’ve included will appeal to everybody, if you keep your eyes open, you’re bound to come across something that seems made for you — just like when you’re walking around the Meatpacking District.­

Last modified: May 10, 2019