Here’s What 50 People Think of 51 Astor

Video: Yuyu Chen
51 ASTORDana Varinsky New glass over Astor Place.

A little over a month after Edward Minskoff’s office tower at 51 Astor was topped off, its Astor Place facade began getting glass panels yesterday. With the building taking shape, we hit the streets with a rendering of architect Fumihiko Maki’s design and asked passersby what they thought. The “black box” has been described as a “much hated” “local punching bag,” but the folks we spoke to didn’t seem to mind it so much: of 50 surveyed, 18 said they mildly liked the design, while 12 said they mildly disliked it; three strongly liked it and five strongly disliked it.

Moira Barrett, 19, who works in the area, said she would usually be against the idea of such a building, but was indifferent to this one because there were already similar ones nearby.

Juan Vallejo, 46, who studied architecture in Colombia, said he thought the building “disrespects the context of the neighborhood” in its historic sense, but believed the modern edifice worked well enough with those around it. “It’s not an isolated monster,” he said, “the buildings start to speak to each other.”

Others weren’t as forgiving. Matt Adams, 34, who has been living and working in the neighborhood for six years, said it’s not the building itself he minds so much, but the idea that it won’t help to preserve the area. “The influx of people and a huge office space, in terms of the neighborhood: that I don’t like,” he said, complaining that Second Avenue has turned into a “tourist trap.”

Raymond Dejesus, a Williamsburg resident who frequents the neighborhood, said he really disliked the idea of the building. “It looks like a shark,” he said of the design. “I don’t think buildings should look like predatory animals.” He went on to say that he thought it was a way of “The Man” saying, “Look at me, I’m a business man.”

Watch our video to hear more, and weigh in yourself, via the comments.

Yuyu Chen contributed reporting.