Coming to Troy: Modern on the Hudson

As recently reported in The Troy Record and the Times Union, three new retail businesses are coming to the historic Frear Building in downtown Troy: Trojan Horse, an antique shop that’s moving and expanding from its location on River Street; the clothing manufacturer Ekologic, which uses recycled fabrics, and… a mid-century furniture shop, Modern on the Hudson!

Local mod fans will remember the proprietors of Modern on the Hudson, Judy Engel and Frank Daley.  Their previous retail venture, Vintage Vogue, started in Saratoga Springs and relocated to River Street.  While the retail portion of their business closed some 10 years ago, they’ve remained active vendors of mid-century furniture, selling wholesale to retail accounts, primarily in New York City.

In a brief recent phone conversation, Engel said that business is flourishing and the new store-front will simply mean that their inventory is on public display.  “When we started this 20 years ago,” said Engel, “nobody understood what we were doing.”  Businesses in the Frear are expected to open in October.  


Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center

RPI’s EMPAC houses a 1,200-seat concert hall and a 400-seat theater plus two multipurpose “black box” spaces that can be used for mounting performances and exhibitions by artists or conducting research by scientists.  It opened in October 2008 after about five years of construction and with a budget in excess of $200 million.  Read more about its genesis and purpose in my story for New Music Box, “At the Intersection of Art and Science.”


University at Albany’s Uptown Campus

Second only to the Empire State Plaza as a prominent modern landmark in the Capital Region is SUNY Albany, now known as the University at Albany Uptown Campus.  It dates from the early 1960s and was designed by Edward Durell Stone (1902-1978).

These are some photos taken on a blustery day in late afternoon, with the few students in sight apparently returning to their dorms.

The campus is on a raised platform and covers some 360 acres.  It’s laid out on a grid with four 22-story dormitories at its corners.

Architect Edward Durell Stone had a long and productive career.  He was also responsible for designing the interior of Radio City Music Hall, the original Museum of Modern Art, 2 Columbus Circle and the Kennedy Center, among many other international projects.  Working during the modernist era, his use of decorative elements was often scorned.  But with this practice he actually foreshadowed the post-modern movement typified by Michael Graves.

I learned a lot about Stone from a talk last spring sponsored by Historic Albany Foundation and given by the architect’s son and biographer, Hicks Stone.  After his father’s death, Hicks also became an architect and has his own firm in New York.

The following photo shows a view from the campus’ central plaza looking outward toward Washington Avenue. You can see a newer glass “welcoming center” in the distance.  (Is it welcoming?)  That’s followed by a shot of the gallery of the University Art Museum, showing how the campus’ signature colonnades continue into the interior spaces.


The Empire State Plaza on a late summer afternoon

Agency buildings

There’s no getting around the Empire State Plaza, a mammoth governmental complex adjacent to the New York State Capitol in downtown Albany.  Its history is troubled (homes were lost, to put it simply) but its vistas and art collection are stunning.

“Yellow Blue” (1968) by Ellsworth Kelly beneath one of the agency buildings

The Egg and the Corning Tower

A glass walled cafe

New York State Museum

“Lippincott I” (1967) by James Rosati, and the New York State Museum

“Two Lines Oblique” (1968-71) by George Rickey, with State Capitol to the left