Though the summer temps have been seriously scorching, New York City is still the best place to catch a breeze on one of its many meandering bike routes. So, to give you something a little out of the ordinary to do this weekend, we've asked our local architecture expert, Kevin Baxter of the City's renowned Ennead Architects (yes, they did the gorgeous Standard Hotel, friends), to design a cool bike ride along the West Side Highway (with one detour) that takes in a handful of funky buildings and other design curiosities. Read on to plot your cruise...and don't forget to pack some Vita-Coco to stay hydrated!
Here's 5 stops, in order from start to finish, for an educated bike ride that won't have you bored:
1.Wagner Park Pavilions ( Machado + Silvetti Architects,'98 ): "These two little pavilions contain a café and restrooms and are connected by a little wooden footbridge. Facing the Statue of Liberty, they sport features that echo Lady Liberty's iconography— think broad brick archways that sort of look like eyebrows."
Battery Place (off of West Street); 212-267-9700
2. The Irish Hunger Memorial (Brian Tolle, Artist, '02. ): "This is one of the most bizarre and unexpected structures in the city: A small park, built to resemble an Irish hillside during the Irish potato famine. Plus, all of the plantings and stone structures were imported from Ireland."
290 Vesey Street (at North End Avenue); 212-267-9700
3. High-Line Park (Diller/ Scofidio / Renfro Architects - Filed Operations Landscape Architects '08 ): "Instead of visiting a structure in a park, this park turns the Meatpacking District's warehouses and new skyscrapers around it into conversation pieces. Take a walk up to the top of the re-purposed freight line at the 18th Street entrance—you'll see NYC in a whole new light. Plus, Gansevoort Street is one the coolest urban parks in the world. Stop for a moment—don't ride...stroll."
529 West 20th Street (between 10th and 11th avenues); 212-500-6035
4. The Frying Pan: "This 1929 Lightship (basically a floating lighthouse used to guide ships into harbor in foggy or nighttime conditions) was rescued from a shallow watery grave off the North Carolina coast and was then converted into a museum and occasional boozy nightclub with a dockside eatery."
Pier 66; West 26th Street (at Hudson River Park); 212-989-6363
5. Paul Rudolph's townhouse (Paul Rudolph, Architect '89.): "Sorry guys, but we have to detour off the West Side bikeway and head over to the East Side to visit the home of one America's greatest but most under-appreciated architects, Paul Rudolph (what he lacked in fame he made up for in style.) This townhouse is an essay on how to take a tiny space, in this case a 20-foot-wide Manhattan lot, and carve it up into intricate spaces that flow together smoothly—think privacy without claustrophobia. If you didn't know this house was designed in 1989, you would swear it was designed in the '70s. With all of the slick alabaster, steel, and chrome, I'm surprised Stanley Kubrick never shot a movie here."
246 East 58th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues)
To help you get motivated for this epic tour, one of our fave bike shops, Bicycle Habitat, is giving away a Globe Live 1 Mixte 580 (above). This aluminum framed speedster promises urban style and functionality, with an awesome basket perfect for carrying your laptop or groceries. There's a whole lot of tricked-out features, most of which we can't explain eloquently, listed here! Even if you don't score the cycle, we still recommend stopping by the shop, which is celebrating its SoHo expansion—one storefront focuses on stylish commuter bikes with another has offerings for more serious sport cyclists. There's hard-to-find British models, a whole selection of vintage-esque options, and the latest technology for fitness bikes.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be entered in the competition (one per person), they will choose a winner at random on Tuesday.
Bicycle Habitat, 244 and 250 Lafayette Street (between Prince and Spring streets); 212-421-3315
Written by Brian Jeffers