Selling the South Mall

On March 30, 1962, the Times Union editorial board urged readers, who harbored “doubts” about the wisdom of the State of New York’s plan to seize and redevelop the South Mall area, to “drive slowly—or walk—up and down these once proud streets. Then decide for yourself.” The implication, of course, was that anyone who viewed…

“M-G-M Monumentality”

Five months after Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller unveiled plans for Albany’s new State office complex, an unsigned review in Progressive Architecture (P/A) criticized the design as suffering from “M-G-M monumentality”: Half a cantaloupe sliced on the bias, a croquet wicket with avoirdupois, an upside-down orange half from a Kraft salad, and four little towers and…

A Sad Discovery

While searching for a photograph of The Point Grill, we discovered something unexpected. We had been looking for a four-story, mixed-use building with an impressive mansard roof on the corner of Eagle and Daniel streets, kitty corner from the Catholic Union. Instead, we found a single-story, flat-roofed commercial structure. But looking closely, we noticed that…

You’re Fired!

Our thanks to Dean Herrick for his help with this post. Of the more than 90 prime contractors and hundreds of subcontractors at the South Mall site, only one was ever fired by the State of New York: The Foster-Lipkins Corporation, builder of the Corning Tower and the Swan Street Motor Vehicle Building. The contractor’s…

Whose Extravagance?

Acting on a tip a few months ago, we contacted architect Daniel Pratt. At age 22 in 1970, he was a draftsman for the Buffalo architectural firm, James, Meadows & Howard, which designed the Legislative Office Building. Dan’s job was to draw the interior office spaces, even though many interior wall frames were already in…

What Happened to Albany’s Arch of Freedom?

When plans for the Empire State Plaza were unveiled in April 1963—more than a year after the State of New York appropriated Albany’s 98 acres—one of its most dramatic features was a 336-foot-high arch. The Arch of Freedom was designed to anchor the Plaza’s south end and to connect two low-lying structures for the State…

Roosevelt Terrace: The Community that Never Was

Once there was a plan to build a sprawling state-subsidized, mixed-income community, known as Roosevelt Terrace, alongside the South Mall Arterial and within the 98 acres seized by the State.* All that remains of that plan is a stripped-down version of the senior apartment complex, South Mall Towers on South Pearl Street. Roosevelt Terrace was…

The Mystery of the Missing Model

More than a year after appropriating 98.5 acres—and 9 months after demolitions began—the State of New York finally unveiled two scale models embodying plans for a futuristic office complex in a revitalized Albany. Taking center stage at the April 23, 1963 ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, Governor Nelson Rockefeller declared that the State’s plan would…