August 9, 2007
Battle for the Big Apple
With this stunning, yacht-like bulding, Frank Gehry finally has a foothold in Manhattan. And now every other big name architect is hot on his heels. Ed Pilkington reports
A review of starchitect Frank Gehry's first effort in the Big Apple ends with nagging doubts about the controversial Atlantic Yards megalopolis.
There is another, bigger gamble for Gehry on the New York horizon. Having just arrived here after so many years of struggle, the commissions are now pouring in. The next job is something of a folly: a state-of-the-art children's playground in Battery Park, the designs for which Gehry is donating as a way of thanking the city. But then comes Atlantic Yards. This gargantuan $4bn development in downtown Brooklyn has already invited a storm of protest from local residents, who dislike its high-rise nature. The project spans 22 acres and will include housing, offices, shops and a home for the New Jersey Nets basketball team.
As the project's lead architect, Gehry is at the centre of the dispute. On the one hand, he is being tugged by a highly organised protest movement that has managed to whittle down some of the more ambitious elements of his design, if not kill it off altogether. On the other, he is having to please a famously hard-nosed developer, Bruce Ratner, who will only stomach so much risk-taking from an architect. It doesn't bode particularly well for the outcome that Gehry has christened the tallest building in the scheme, a 511ft tower of glass and metal, "Miss Brooklyn". He says it is his "ego trip".
It is a gamble indeed. Gehry has finally arrived in New York. But when Atlantic Yards is completed in 2017, will he wish he had never done so?
NoLandGrab: Wonder if Gehry's "pro bono" work on the childrens' playground in Battery Park City helps dampen fears at the Department of City Planning of Atlantic Yards's urban planning nightmares.
Posted by lumi at August 9, 2007 8:13 AM