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October 24, 2005

Daily News scoffs at Scary Gehry warnings, and misses the point

The Daily News editorial board attacked "the bizarre notion" that Gehry's Disney Hall neighborhood-heating debacle could happen at Atlantic Yards, a point I brought up as a member of Park Slope Civic Council, a group that is far from NIMBY-istic, and still has yet to take a stand on the project.

The board failed to understand that Gehry's experimental forms have often been deemed environmental hazards in themselves. The Draft Scope Environmental Impact hearing was just the place to make that point.

Consider Case Western Reserve University's Gehry project. In the winter of 2003 students and faculty found the building to be downright dangerous.

From the an Associated Press report:

In its first winter, snow and ice have been sliding off the long, sloping stainless-steel roof, bombarding the sidewalk below. And in bright sun, the glint off the steel tiles is so powerful that standing next to the building is like lying on a beach with a tanning mirror.

''You might have to walk on the road to make sure you don't get hit by ice,'' said Adam Searl, a junior at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management. ''Maybe they should have thought about it before they had built the building. It's Cleveland. We get ice. We get snow. We get rain.''

That's falling chunks of ice and sliding snow, plus the tanning-mirror effect in "sun-drenched(?)" Cleveland. Could it happen here?

Gehry's emphasis on experimental "forms" flirts with the arrogant notion of "architecture for art's sake," a dangerous precedent that ignores people and environment, things that used to be foundation principles of architecture.

Should master builder of unintended consequences Frank Gehry be allowed to experiment on skyscrapers, highrises and a glass arena in the heart of Brooklyn? In the very least, the environmental impacts of his architecture should be anticipated and scrutinized.

— Lumi Michelle Rolley

Posted by lumi at October 24, 2005 7:27 AM