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September 29, 2006

Kicking People in the Shins, as a Vocation

The NY Times
By Robin Finn

Kent Barwick is serving his third stint as the head of the Municipal Art Society. Today's Times runs an article featuring the man at the helm of the organization that just jumped in the mosh pit of Atlantic Yards critics with the group's BrooklynSpeaks campaign.

[Barwick is] a busy guy, mirroring the society, which was formed in 1893 to fast-forward the embellishment of the city’s public spaces with murals, monuments and fountains but evolved into a public watchdog intent not only on preserving the historic but also protecting this boisterous metropolis from, well, outgrowing itself.
Now, with the planning commission publicly on board for Atlantic Yards, based on the developer’s acceptance of the commission’s suggestion to reduce its 8.7 million square foot project by 8 percent, a concession Mr. Barwick dismisses as a nonconcession, the society has aligned itself with several community groups and declared Atlantic Yards an unfit addition to the borough. This new coalition’s recommendations focus on reducing the project’s size and increasing its public space and subsidized housing. “It doesn’t seem to us that making repairs to the design will be fatal to the project.”

Mr. Barwick applauds the project’s ambitions (he says the site is right for high-density development and, if Brooklyn wants it, a sports arena), loves the fact that Frank Gehry and not some “off-the-rack architect” designed its “Miss Brooklyn” showpiece tower, but rejects the project’s overall bulk. In short, the society demands a redesign. Maybe two. Mr. Barwick wants the clock tower of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank unobscured: “That clock is Brooklyn’s wristwatch.”


Posted by lumi at September 29, 2006 8:28 AM