Cityscapes and store shelves

Real estate developers have always been competitive folks, and by the looks of West 23rd street in Manhattan they are beginning to take a lesson from the combative traditions of the store shelf and consumer product brands.

Nicolai Ourroussoff had a piece in the NY Times yesterday about the new HL23 condo, designed by Neil M. Denari Architects, overlooking the new High Line park in Chelsea. The picture of the buildings lined up along West 23rd Street reminded me of a retail shelf, with the buildings lined up like packages on a store shelf, each competing for consumer attention.

Since the “Commissioner’s Plan of 1811” establishing the grid plan and the subsequent explosive growth of the 19th century, the streets of Manhattan have continued to be lined with residential and commercial buildings of various ages and architectural styles. And certainly there is nothing new about architects or developers creating unique building styles. But it seems to be reaching new heights on block after block where buildings, especially new residential condos, are seeking to establish a unique “brand” through the use of striking architecture.

And West 23rd street is an example of this trend. If you look at the picture above you can’t help but be struck by the strong brand personality being conveyed by the new building. And having the same shelf impact as a radical new consumer product being introduced into the stale retail category.

Photos are by Wade Zimmerman


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
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