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April 29, 2008

Ratner Speaks

Atlantic Yards Report and Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn examine Bruce Ratner's interview on NY1 last night (transcript/video).

Atlantic Yards Report, Ratner lowers our architectural expections; will Gehry ease away?


Yes, the "news" (as hinted by the New York Observer) from the fairly gentle profile NY1 ran last night of Bruce Ratner is that the Atlantic Yards developer is talking populism, not Gehry-ism:

“We need jobs, we need shopping that's appropriate and the right price and quality goods, we need supermarkets that provide food that is of quality and well-priced, we need housing, and you know what? The architecture is important, but it's not that important,” says Ratner.

"I want to do great architecture, but I have to say something, which is that, if one is going to boil life down to architecture, then you know what? It's not for me,” he adds.

Interviewer Budd Mishkin, host of the "One On 1" series, didn't raise the suggestion, but to me it hinted as a potential estrangement from Frank Gehry. (Gehry's not mentioned at all in the piece, though models of his buildings are evident and, of course, such video segments are edited.)

After all, Ratner not so long ago was emphasizing his commitment to architecture:

"I’ve been talking for ten years about trying to use ‘design architects’ instead of ‘developer architects," he told New York magazine's Kurt Andersen in 2005. (Citation below.)

Gehry's never designed an arena, so to him that may be the prime lure of the Atlantic Yards commission. Given that most of the project, including the Miss Brooklyn tower (which Gehry called "my ego trip"), has been delayed and layoffs have occurred in Gehry's office, it's possible that Gehry--who has publicly said that typically he'd bring in other architects to work with him--sees a light at the end of the tunnel.

If so, Ratner is now talking about housing and jobs and big box shopping, not architecture.

(The profile offered a look at Ratner in his earlier days as well as a reasonable survey of his life and career.)

NoLandGrab: If starchitect Frank Gehry only designs the arena, then even Gehry detractors might start missing the old guy. The prospect for interesting architecture will become very dim — think MetroTech in the middle of Brownstone Brooklyn.

DDDB.net, Breaking: Ratner Eats East River Fish, Says He's "Progressive"

BruceRatner-DiscoEra.jpgDevelop Don't Destroy got a hearty chuckle from last night's interview. The community group ran the disco-era photo of Bruce Ratner and noted that the self-proclaimed "progressive" ate the fish he caught out of the East River.

NY1 did this fluff job on controversial Atlantic Yards demolition man Bruce Ratner. Some might say it was even hagiographic.

Ratner wants to make sure you know that he is a "progressive." He is so "progressive" that he makes sure to tell the interviewer, Budd Mishkin, that he is "progressive," and Budd tells the viewers that Bruce is "progressive." He also understands the opposition to his project because....their concerns "are not inappropriate," and people have the right to their opinions.

NoLandGrab: Ratner boasted of catching a striped bass, which is migratory and doesn't actually live in the East River, so might not be all that bad for eating, if you want to take your chances. Then again, it must have been a quite big striper because, currently, they have to be at least 28" to be a keeper.

Posted by lumi at April 29, 2008 5:46 AM