A common phenomenon here: unreserved, irreverent, downright mismatch. Here in Brooklyn, a fourth or fifth floor addition to a building with no effort to blend into the structure below. The mismatch suggesting the addition was made with whatever the building supply store had in surplus at the time. At the checkout, the contractor justifies the deeply discounted purchases by whispering to herself, “Who really looks up anyway?” On a typical narrow borough street, a true vantage would break the neck, and further, Excuse me, behind you. To your right. Ahem. Ahem. AHEM, the hustle and bustle (plus runners, strollers, and dogs) keep one from pausing long enough to take it in anyway.

But in this one instance, an unusually wide street and sidewalk, taking in such mismatch is possible. Poor eyes. Originally four levels, the building grew a fifth (mismatched) level almost a hundred years later. Permits for the addition are missing from the public records, but in 1998, a fifth floor is referred to for the first time. Like magic. Tasteless magic, actually. A single giant metal-framed window spans the full façade of this fifth level, in screaming indifference to rows of petite arched panes framed in darling brick below. Not in a good 90s-loft sort of way. Just total mismatch. It is unreserved. Irreverent, really. Who in their right mind for crying out loud would do this?

Although … the mismatch is kind of beguiling at twilight. Less harsh, really. Something about the light. Its dim warmth softens the vulgarity of it all, drawing the eye in. The neck cranes up to follow this draw. In the vast fifth floor window, the darkening sky reflects the entire Milky Way, so it seems. Up even higher, the moon pierces the eyes. Then, the sky


It is almost audible, a quiet


Perspective goes amiss.
Wobbling and stillness, all the same.

The head tilts further back and the center of gravity



The ground below feels heavier, all of a sudden.

The weight of gravity pushes, all of a sudden.


The head tilts even further back.

All of a sudden, a                                               lift.


The stars pull (the city sky is full of stars if you look for them)
The stars pull as if each one spins a web, a string to your every




The stars pull. The world opens.      You can see. Finally.

You can see. Finally.
You can see. Finally.


everything matches just right
for crying out loud.

The views expressed here are those of the authors only and do not reflect the position of The Architectural League of New York.



We’ve grown used to things being strange. And to things being very familiar. A series of short texts by architect and writer Neena Verma on the ins and outs of our whereabouts.