Location Long Island City (Queens)
Rent $1680 (sublet) Square feet 700
Occupants Reyna Rojas (administrative assistant, the Corcoran Group); Jorge Rojas (architect, Mancini-Duffy)
You’ve lived in the same building since you were eight. Now you’re doing it again. Well, now you’re married. [Jorge] We lived in the same building in Elmhurst, 1983. [Reyna] We used to see each other all the time in the elevator. [Jorge] “Oh, hi.” Our mothers spoke to each other. It wasn’t until we started driving that we got to know each other. [Reyna] The summer of ’91. [Jorge] It all started because her mother just bought a car. Her sister was driving it, then it broke down. They didn’t know much about cars. My older brother, father, and I, we knew a little more. Her older sister asked me to see what was wrong. I found out they had left the light on all night. The battery was dead. So then I got in touch with my brother so he could take them to the mechanic. [Reyna] We started going to the beach. My older sister and his brother are married also.
Was it because of the battery? [Jorge] Sort of. [Reyna] We got married four years ago at the Swan Club on Long Island. I came from El Salvador in ’81. [Jorge] My parents came from Colombia in 1979.
You can see all the best things outside your window—the Pepsi-Cola and Silvercup signs, that Citicorp building, so watery blue. [Jorge] The blue’s always changing with the sunset. It turns the building orange, gold. Our building was designed by Cesar Pelli. He knows how to relate architecture to a site. This is not a box-layered building. There’s a curved rooftop, not common in skyscrapers. Old ones are peaked, new ones are flat.
Do you like Mies van der Rohe? Once I both lived and worked in Mies van der Rohe buildings. Glass, 24 hours a day. What kind of architecture do you do? We just did the Rockettes dressing room renovation.
I bet you had to make each place they sit look alike. Back to Queens. You’re the first stop out of Manhattan on the 7 train and right next to a beautiful pier. I read that Silvercup won the fight to stop a power plant. [Jorge] People are protesting because the MTA wants to build a big repair shop for trains across from P.S.1, saying the shop doesn’t fit with the neighborhood. Around our building, it’s up-and-coming. There are all these restaurants on Vernon we go to, Tournesol. [Reyna] It means sunflower in French. [Jorge] This is a very old neighborhood that became very industrial because of its proximity to the city. You can see the gantry cranes along the water. They used them to lift up boxcars from barges to trains in the late 1800s.
You said the silver dome nearby is a tennis club. The Schwartz Chemical building has tennis courts. Your building has courts. I didn’t know so much of Queens is playing tennis. Is the world going to pot while everyone in Queens is running to get the ball? Whop! [Jorge] Next door is a putting green.
Plans for this area, Queens West they call it, include some 19 buildings and 16,000 more people in the next 15 years, all very Battery Park City. [Jorge] If New York gets approval, the whole of Hunters Point near here will become the Olympic Village in 2012. We’ll be on the edge of it. [Reyna] We’re hopefully going to buy something in the building, but prices haven’t dropped at all. Today a one-bedroom is $140,000, $150,000. Maintenance is an average of $1500. [Jorge] The building is a very big mix, young families in their thirties. [Reyna] Lot of single people. [Jorge] With dogs.
I was reading the Landscape Meeting Report on the QueensWest Web site—three pages, single-spaced. “TW” writes: “We started by looking at the two potted topiaries flanking the automatic doors. Bill will replace them both . . .” Who’s Bill?