New York

Kenneth Snelson

Waterside Plaza

Kenneth Snelson’s energetic tensegrity structure sculptures on the Waterside Plaza rock slightly with the wind off the East River. Although the pipe and cable assemblies are dwarfed by the hatchetlike apartment buildings (by Davis, Brody and Associates) that tower above them, it’s clear that it might have been the other way around. I mean that, as Buckminster Fuller has demonstrated, Snelson’s structural method can generate architecture, and, given the site, that is what I think about in their presence. Snelson’s work is rationalized down to the last bone, with an inevitability like botanical structure. He uses this to make occasional cosmic allusions. For example, his demonstratively systemic towers (not shown here) have a view inside and up that recalls the intricate interiors of Guarini’s late Baroque church domes.

Northwood III, in which diagonal pipes ramify off a cubic central core,

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