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Acoustic effects at I.M. Pei's Silver Towers

Whenever people refer to the composition of the Silver Towers on Bleecker Street (two are owned by NYU and one is a middle-income co-op), they mention the buildings themselves ("bold concrete sculptural gridded facades") and the plaza containing "a giant sculpture by Carl Nesjar, a reinterpretation of Pablo Piccaso’s “Portrait of Sylvette”" (from I. M. Pei’s Silver Towers Could Become a Landmark).  What is rarely mentioned is the unusual seating arrangement in the southeast corner of the superblock.  

The seating area is "a broken spiral of concrete benches" (from the Landmarks Preservation Commission).  If you stand at the edge of the inner most ledge of the spiral and utter "Ah" you are supposed to hear "Ah" as if you spoke it into an echoing microphone.  Here is a photograph of a group of students trying this acoustic effect.


  1. He's got one of these on the MIT campus too. The experience is a trip!

  2. AnonymousJuly 28, 2010

    Nick, welcome, and thanks for the comment.

  3. AnonymousJuly 29, 2010

    Cool observation! Very architectural indeed.


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