I spent a good chunk of the weekend in Lower Manhattan, which covers Wall Street, the Seaports, Ground Zero & The World Trade Center, and Battery Park. Here you will find the Staten Island Ferry, the bronze bull statue, and excellent views of The Statue of Liberty. Here you will also find the oldest parts of Manhattan’s history, with buildings and events tracing back hundreds of years to the earliest settlers. This comes through in the architecture, statues, and overall design of the streets (they make little to no sense.)

Amongst the zig-zagging alleyways and brick town houses, you will find the home of Thomas Paine, the burial site of Alexander Hamilton, and the exact spot that George Washington stood as he was sworn-in as President of the United States. Every street is a landmark, and every building is a work of art.

This brings me to the design aspect of this amazing place.

From colonial to Romanesque to Art Deco to Modernism and futuristic towers of glass, Lower Manhattan has it all. It is a clear and traceable look at the visual mindset of humanity during any given time period of the last several centuries. It is also a great place to directly compare these styles, as these buildings are quite literally right next to one another.

As a designer and lover of the Modernist way of life, I can’t help but step back and analyze the structures before me. Despite my affinity for minimalism and clean, efficient design, I cannot help but be drawn to the ornate architecture of a century ago, even more so than the modern designs of the last fifty years. It is disconcerting but nonetheless true.

How can that be? How can I betray the simplicity that I espouse for in my own daily work? Would I ever dare to design in the Romanesque fashion within my own work? Probably not. And yet, I would prefer it no other way down Wall Street and its surrounding channels.

Admittedly, I do not have a full, comprehensive answer to this yet. Thoughts and ideas, certainly. But not a proper cohesive thought. Could it be nostalgia for past glamour? Is there a unifying formula in all of this? I’m not yet sure.

And so it is with my incomplete pondering that I leave things for now. I do not have answers today but I will return to it with a more cohesive conclusion later.