June 18, 2012

A New York Year

Metropolis Magazine
by Colin Fanning

Forest City Ratner wins an award — and for once it doesn't involve something like being a Super-Villain.

The Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) annually presents its MASterworks Awards to recognize outstanding works of architecture or urban design completed in the prior year. The jury for the 2012 awards is a notable list in its own right: it included architects Brandon Haw of Foster + Partners, Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture + Urban Design, and Adam Yarinsky from the Architecture Research Office; journalist Suzanne Stephens from Architectural Record; and the president of MAS, Vin Cipolla. This refreshingly diverse list of winners—a carousel pavilion by Jean Nouvel shares honors with a children’s library in Queens—looks back at an exciting post-recession year for architecture in New York.

Best New Building: New York by Gehry, Gehry & Partners

The highest honor went to Gehry’s shimmering new residential tower at 8 Spruce Street in downtown Manhattan. The jury calls it “a striking symbol of Lower Manhattan’s resurgence,” and its undulating silver façade, standing out among its mid-rise neighbors, certainly makes a dramatic addition to the skyline.


NoLandGrab: MAS, as our long-time readers know, mustered some Milquetoasty opposition to Atlantic Yards, co-founding BrooklynSpeaks — but dropped out once BrooklynSpeaks filed a lawsuit.

Photo: Forest City Ratner

Posted by eric at 10:02 AM

May 10, 2012

Gehry Spire Stake on Block

The Wall Street Journal
by Laura Kusisto

Savvy sale — or strapped for cash?

As apartment rents in Manhattan hit new highs, the owners of New York by Gehry, the city's tallest rental building, are looking to cash in by putting a stake in the tower up for sale.

A venture led by Forest City Ratner Cos., which developed the Frank Gehry-designed silver spiral in lower Manhattan, is seeking to sell as much as a 49% interest in a deal that is expected to value the 76-story building at more than $1 billion.

Forest City and its partner in the tower, National Electrical Benefit Fund, are looking to take advantage of the high demand among investors for New York City apartment buildings, which have been steadily increasing rents despite the shaky economy. Dallas-based Invesco Real Estate, for example, recently closed on a nearly $60 million purchase of the Arias in Park Slope, which was built as condos and converted to rentals.

Some in the industry, though, believe the rental market has peaked as renters are fed up with rising prices and may turn to buying. Thousands of new rental units are also in development, adding more competition to the market.


Photo: Bryan Derballa for The Wall Street Journal

Posted by eric at 11:04 PM

April 18, 2012

Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Gehry, asked about issues of scale, grudgingly admits, "Yeah, I guess"

Atlantic Yards Report

An exchange between architecture critic Paul Goldberger and architect Frank Gehry, during an interview April 12 at Yale University, suggests that the architect only slightly acknowledges the controversy over Atlantic Yards, the one that in May 2006 led him to crack that protestors "should have been picketing Henry Ford."

The discussion begins at about the 1:00 mark. Here's the key exchange.

FG: I think Atlantic Yards had a problem--it was just right at the moment the recession started, everybody panicked, everybody was cutting back.

PG: But there were issues about the scale, too--very, very big, and there was a lot of opposition, not to the specifics of your design, but to the overall scale of the project.

FG: Yeah, I guess. (Pause) But they're gonna build--they're building parts of it. We established the guidelines, so, for better and for worse, it's going to be an irregular skyline.

Goldberger is writing Gehry's biography, so he has lots of opportunity to examine the thin-skinned Gehry's rather fraught relationship with Atlantic Yards and, as detailed below, Gehry's own acknowledgment that scale was a challenge.

Watch live streaming video from yale at livestream.com


Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

March 21, 2012

Views From the Market Top

The Wall Street Journal
by Laura Kusisto

Bruce Ratner has yet to break ground for a single one of his promised 2,250 units of Atlantic Yards affordable housing. Meanwhile, at "Nouveau Riche by Gehry"...

In the next six to eight weeks, the three penthouses at New York by Gehry, a Manhattan rental tower twisting 76 stories into the sky, will hit the market at a price that would make most apartment-hunters blanch: $40,000 to $60,000 a month.

Haha! I think we can see the little people way down there!

Above the 52nd floor at New York by Gehry, 50% of tenants earn more than $500,000 a year and 20% earn more than $1 million, Mr. Finn said. The concierge has entertained—and fulfilled—requests for everything from hiring Cirque du Soleil performers for a private dinner party to chartering a private plane for a lobster-tasting.


Posted by eric at 10:11 AM

February 28, 2012

A Somewhat Perverse Frank Gehry Timeline

Metropolis Magazine
by Martin C. Pedersen

Frank Gehry's lost decade.

Leon Krier’s recent broadside against Frank Gehry’s proposed design for the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., had me thinking about the world’s most famous architect. For a man who created one of the most important buildings of the 20th century, Gehry, who turns 83 in a couple of days, has hit a fair number of potholes in recent years. Here’s a quick review of some of them (at least the ones I could think of off the top of my head):

December 2003: In February the Walt Disney Concert Hall opened to universal acclaim. The consensus? The creator of the Guggenheim Bilbao had done it again! Frank Gehry, as a global cultural figure, could not be riding any higher. That perception begins to change when the developer Bruce Ratner unveils his colossal Atlantic Yards proposal for downtown Brooklyn. It includes a new Frank Gehry–designed sports arena, along with Frank Gehry–designed commercial towers and apartment buildings. (Confession: I liked it, with a few caveats, but I didn’t live in the neighborhood.) The scheme lands on the doorstep of Brownstone Brooklyn with a resounding thud. In a very bad early sign, Robert Moses’s name is invoked.

2004: Among the cultural elite of Brooklyn, Gehry goes from world’s most influential architect to pawn in a real estate game played by Ratner. This line of thinking persists for the better part of the decade, as does fierce neighborhood opposition to the plan.

August 2005: Hurricane Katrina strikes the Gulf Coast. A huge, runaway casino barge strikes Gehry’s half-completed Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, Mississippi. This is greeted in some parts of Brooklyn as some sort of cosmic payback.

November 2007: Three years after the Stata Center opened, MIT sues Gehry and his contractor, citing a long list of complaints: cracking masonry, poor drainage, mold, persistent leaks throughout the building, and sliding ice and snow. (The suit is settled three years later.) Longtime partner Jim Glymph takes the fall.

April 2008: In response to delays at Atlantic Yards (mostly, related to lawsuits) and a slowing economy, layoffs begin at Gehry Partners. Even Gehry’s name can’t protect the firm from the tidal wave sweeping the profession.


NoLandGrab: Pedersen left out the denouement. June 2009: Gehry fired from Atlantic Yards project in cost-cutting move.

Posted by eric at 11:55 AM

November 28, 2011

Living in a 76-Story Work of Art, and a Symbol of Rebirth

The New York Times
by Kate Taylor

"All the news that's fit to print" — and this homage that reads like an advertorial.

At 870 feet, 8 Spruce Street — or, as it is known by real estate agents, New York by Gehry — is the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere, though it may soon be surpassed by a 90-story hotel-condominium going up near Carnegie Hall. Still, with its irregular facade, with facets that twist like silver ribbons hanging from the sky, the Gehry building has quickly become a distinctive part of the skyline and a symbol of Lower Manhattan’s rebirth since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Cue the patriotic music.

Nine months after the building welcomed its first renters, it has become a microcosm of the neighborhood. There are professionals in their 20s, families and members of the wealthy elite. Available studios and one-bedrooms rent for skyward of $3,700 a month and three bedrooms for $11,975 and up.

If by "microcosm of the neighborhood," The Times means "way more rich, white people than you'd find anywhere else in the neighborhood," then, yes, by all means.

The first five floors of the 76-story tower house the new Public School 397, the entrance of which is on the east side of the building, separated from the residents’ entrance on the west, so the streams of children arriving and lawyers and bankers leaving for work do not have to cross.

Lawyers and bankers being part of the "microcosm," school kids, not so much.

By building the school, the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, was able to secure $203.9 million in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds to finance construction. (Forest City Ratner was the development partner of The New York Times in its Midtown headquarters.)


NoLandGrab: Seriously, New York Times? This is what passes for "news" now? As for the whole "microcosm" thing, the U.S. census bureau reports that nearly two-thirds of people living in zip code 10038 paid less than $1000 in monthly rent in 2009.

Posted by eric at 10:37 PM

November 12, 2011

Prokhorov, Jay-Z, Gehry, Ratner (for "Athletics"!) make "The Haute Living 100" of New York

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder catches up on the Haute Living 100.

The luxury mag Haute Living Magazine, in The Haute Living 100 of New York, places the Nets' owner in the top 20 of its Business category:

19. Mikhail Prokhorov
What makes him haute: Billionaire entrepreneur Mikhail Prokhorov began by becoming one of Russia’s leading industrialists in the precious metals sector. While running Norilsk Nickel, the company became the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium. Prokhorov is the chairman of Polyus Gold and the president of Onexim Investment Group. Prokhorov is the third richest man from Russia and the 39th richest man in the world, with an estimated $18 billion net worth. He also is co-owner of the New Jersey Nets.

He's also the only Russian on the list, so clearly the basketball association is what got him there. Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner does not appear in this section, though he appears lower down.


Posted by eric at 1:12 PM

October 24, 2011

Gilmartin, at MAS Summit; touts Gehry tower; Forest City signs on as sponsor; was summit about livability or competitive advantage?

Atlantic Yards Report

Forest City Ratner's Frank Gehry-designed 8 Spruce Street, aka Beekman Tower, is truly a trophy for the developer--especially when there's no time for pesky questions.

In a five-minute presentation October 13 at the second annual Municipal Art Society Summit for New York City, Forest City Ratner Executive VP MaryAnne Gilmartin offered "Observations on the Making of a New York City Skyscraper." The blurb:

MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of commercial and residential development for Forest City Ratner Enterprises, will share with us the story of how the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere came to be. Designed by Frank Gehry, 8 Spruce Street is a singular addition to the iconic New York City skyline and tells a rich story of design and development.

It does present a rich story, and Gilmartin used her brief time effectively, but she also left some things out, as I suggest in my annotations below.


Posted by eric at 11:37 AM

September 7, 2011

Frank Gehry Really, Really Regrets His Guest Appearance on The Simpsons

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

Because of his successful style, Frank Gehry sometimes comes under criticism for being a hack whose buildings all look the same—even if in their 50th iteration, those waving bands of metal still look amazing, fresh and different. This sensibility was, like so many other things, immortalized on The Simpsons, in which Mr. Gehry was perhaps the first and only architect to ever make a guest appearance—an appearance that still haunts him to this day.

Mr. Gehry was on Fahreed Zakaria’s CNN program GPS yesterday, where he complained about how a throwaway joke (literally!) on The Simpsons has dogged his career ever since.

Click through for Gehry's typically nearly incomprehensible explanation — and here to watch the infamous Simpson's episode in question.


Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

August 13, 2011

Gehry in summer 2004, quotes Ratner: "You understand how to put a neighborhood together, and that's what I need you to do."

Atlantic Yards Report

A book that includes conversations between architect Frank Gehry, and his longtime collaborator and friend Ernest Fleischmann, former managing director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, shows Gehry, in the early days of Atlantic Yards, optimistic about the project and developer Bruce Ratner.

Gehry, who called himself a "liberal do-gooder" as he has done at other points, seemed to have convinced himself that doing Atlantic Yards fit into that self-conception. He had to work under what he termed a "tight budget," but that budget, of course, became ever tighter, eventually causing his 2009 ejection from the project.

And when Ratner told Gehry "You understand how to put a neighborhood together, and that's what I need you to do," was he just buttering up the architect so as to ensure his participation?

After all, Gehry's gone and, despite Ratner's claims and Gehry's aspirations, the architect's strength is in more in constructing striking buildings than in urban planning.


Posted by steve at 11:12 PM

July 29, 2011

Upper Floors of New York by Gehry Now Officially Renting

by Sara Polsky

Clink! You're still fired!

The lights are on, the crane is down, and now, the moment we've been waiting for: the upper floors of New York by Gehry/8 Spruce Street/Beekman Tower are now renting. By "upper floors," we mean floors 40 through 76, which have two- and three-bedroom apartments. A bunch of brokers have already been inside the new 45th-floor model units, to join Gehry and developer Bruce Ratner in a champagne (or perhaps it's sparkling cider?) toast earlier this week. The 22,000 square feet of amenities, including the 50-foot swimming pool, the spa, the screening room, and the library, are also officially open.


Related content...

New York by Gehry, Ripple Effect: Frank Gehry’s Acclaimed NYC Skyscaper Debuts Upper-Floor Luxury Rental Units to High Demand

How sad that New York by Gehry comes up in a "blog" search. Maybe Google will start selling news to sites that are actually ads.

Photo: Philip Greenberg

Posted by eric at 12:31 PM

July 6, 2011

Frank Gehry: Dizzy heights

The Guardian
by Jonathan Glancey

This sappy lovefest with the ill-fated Atlantic Yards starchitect, whose Forest City-built 8 Spruce Street was apparently inspired by "Michelangelo and Bernini," includes the best rationalization for construction-budget cost-cutting ever.

I'm getting tearful," says Frank Gehry when I ask him how he feels about finally making his mark on the Manhattan skyline. "My father grew up in Hell's Kitchen, 10th Avenue, on the city's West Side." Irving Goldberg was one of nine children in a very poor immigrant family; his son changed his name in the early 1950s. "He started work at 11," says Gehry. "He had a hard life. I'd like to share 8 Spruce Street with him. Hey, Pa! I got to build a skyscraper right by the Woolworth Building. That's me, Dad. Up there!"

Gehry's previous tribute to his dad was disavowing his surname.

"Originally, I wanted to have the folds going all the way around," Gehry explains. "But the marketing folk said that 15% of people didn't want apartments with wrinkles. So that's why there's a straight side. But, then, they started to rent out the wrinkly apartments, and asked for more of them. By then I'd begun to like the straight side. The models we made showing the tower completely wrinkly just didn't look tough enough for New York."


Posted by eric at 11:15 AM

June 9, 2011

It Won’t Be Pretty: Stopping The Eisenhower National Memorial

Blog of the Courtier
by William Newton

Speaking of everyone's favorite "do-gooder, liberal"...

On Monday evening the National Civic Art Society (“NCAS”) announced the winners of their competition to design an alternative to the Eisenhower National Memorial, a monstrosity by architect Frank Gehry which will be built in part with your tax dollars, across the street from the Air and Space Museum here in Washington. You can read more about the winning entry here, and you can also follow this link to view the talk given at the event by Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Eisenhower. The winning entries presented various schemes for the Eisenhower Memorial that make use of traditional monumental design elements – such as the memorial arch, colonnade, and plinth – all surrounded by landscaping.

Regular readers are already aware of what I think about Mr. Gehry’s design. From the beginning, the selection of Gehry as the architect for this memorial was a curious one. He has made his career out of building things that are quite spectacularly ugly, and while there were many ugly things built during the Eisenhower Administration, Gehry’s vision of a monument to Ike does not fit well either with the rather conservative Eisenhower era, or the Nation’s Capital.

And in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards project, featuring a monstrous collapsing tower by Gehry, went back to the drawing board following years of protest from the public. Ironically, given Gehry’s above-quoted views on city planning, the project was described as a “corrupt land grab”, a “taxpayer ripoff”, and a “complete failure of democracy” by one of the leaders of a group opposed to the project.


NoLandGrab: The full post is worth a read, especially for the French translation of Gehry's "picketing Henri Ford" comment.

Posted by eric at 10:29 AM

New York by Gehry

Our columnist gets a tour of Manhattan’s newest addition to the high-end, high-rise rental market.

Metropolis Magazine
by Karrie Jacobs

A funny thing happened when my boyfriend, Ed, and I went to look at the apartments at 8 Spruce Street, the 76-story tower with the shimmery, crumpled stainless-steel skin being advertised as “New York by Gehry.” Afterward, as we strolled home through City Hall Park, Ed started calculating. Could we rent his nineteenth-century Soho loft out for enough money to cover his overhead and the rental price of a twenty-first-century Gehry apartment? The apartments were on the small side, with shallow closets, so we’d have to transfer the bulk of our stuff into storage (including all the possessions that I’d recently moved into his place and have yet to completely unpack). Clearly, there would be no room for his drum set.…

“You’re serious?” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied. “It would be a different experience of the city.”

Understand: we didn’t go there to rent an apartment. I couldn’t imagine writing a big monthly check to Bruce Ratner, the man behind the odious Atlantic Yards development, in Brooklyn (where Gehry was the master planner until he extracted himself or was booted out in 2009). We just wanted to look at the place up close to see how much of the architect’s exterior bling had found its way inside. Would living inside this glittery new beanstalk of a building be any different from, say, in one designed by Costas Kondylis, New York’s most prolific residential architect?

Fear not, Karrie Jacobs fans, she didn't succumb.

For a few hours, we were ready to pack our current life into storage and start clean. The fantasy offered by this building is a powerful one. But then, we wouldn’t just be living a life of quiet contemplation in the clouds; we’d also be living in close quarters with the occupants of 902 other apartments. And we’d still be in Manhattan, which means the tower is subject to the same real estate forces that created it. Sooner or later, a low-rise neighbor—I’d bet on Pace University, directly across Spruce Street—will decide it’s a good idea to build skyward. And New York by Gehry will begin to resemble New York by pretty much anybody else.


Image: Ashley Stevens/Metropolis

Posted by eric at 10:19 AM

May 2, 2011

An Architect's Blueprint for Overexposure

The Wall Street Journal
by Joe Queenan

An Iowa-based philanthropist and architecture aficionado has offered a $300 million reward to any city anywhere in the world that dares to hire someone other than Frank Gehry to design its gleaming new art museum.

"Don't get me wrong, I like iconoclastic, swoopy structures that look like bashed-in sardine cans as much as the next guy," says the philanthropist, who wishes to remain nameless for fear of enraging close friends in the art world. "I like Czech dance halls that look like a 747 plowed right into the façade as much as anybody. I bow to no man in my admiration for an architect who can design an art museum that looks like a intergalactic recycling center. I just thought it would be nice to give the second-most-famous architect in the world a shot at a payday. Whoever he is. I know I've got his name here somewhere."

The philanthropist's gambit underscores how amazingly popular Mr. Gehry's playful, irreverent architecture has become in recent years, and how hard it is to find anyone helming a major municipal building project who would dare to hire someone else to execute a commission. The latest is a 76-story structure in lower Manhattan, the largest swoopy apartment building in the world.


NoLandGrab: Sure, but how many places can say they have had a Gehry bait-and-switch?

"There's a swoopy, somewhat incongruous Frank Gehry building in Millennium Park in Chicago," says a famous architecture critic who wishes to remain nameless for fear of being perceived as a revolting, disgusting philistine who ought to be hanged, drawn, quartered and then shot, but only after being blinded and flayed alive. "There's a swoopy Frank Gehry building in L.A. There are swoopy Frank Gehry buildings in New York, Seattle, Cleveland, Toronto, Cambridge, Mass., and Princeton, N.J. That's not to mention the swoopy Frank Gehry buildings in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach, Las Vegas and Bilbao, Spain. Everywhere you go on the planet, whether it's an art museum, a concert hall, a corporate headquarters or a hospital, there's a swoopy Gehry building. I'm not saying that the world doesn't need any more swoopy Gehry buildings that look like dented Miller Lite cans. I'm just saying that maybe the world doesn't need quite so many."

A city planner who wishes to remain nameless for fear that he will be branded an enemy of iconoclastic swoopiness says that municipalities dread not having a Frank Gehry building somewhere within the city limits, even if it's only a postmodern nursing home or a puckish, irreverent library.

"Elciego, Spain, has a Frank Gehry building," he notes. "Herford, Germany, has a Frank Gehry building. Dundee, Scotland, has a Frank Gehry building. I'm going to level with you: I don't even know where those places are. Nobody does. I think they might be in Europe. But I'll tell you one thing: I know where Biloxi, Miss., is. Well, if Biloxi, Miss., has a playful Frank Gehry building, we just can't afford not to. Even though I can't tell you who we are."

The critic who wishes to remain nameless for fear of having his stately Colonial house firebombed by cutting-edge-architecture buffs, and his family fed to great white sharks a limb at a time over six weeks, elaborates.

"If you're living on a planet where Cleveland has a Frank Gehry building and Biloxi has a Frank Gehry building, for you to not have a Frank Gehry building of your own makes your city look stupid. It makes it look like your city fathers have no vision, no panache, no brio, no chutzpah. You've probably noticed that Schenectady and Tallahassee don't have one of these swoopy buildings."

In the three months since the philanthropist offered his $300 million prize to any city—of any size—that dares to not commission a Frank Gehry building, there has not been a single taker.

"Cities are afraid to seem backward and square," he concedes. "There's nothing a local tourism board or chamber of commerce fears more than acquiring a reputation for being un-cool. So there's a strong possibility that my $300 million might just sit there, unclaimed, forever. Though frankly, I still think the great city of Scranton might step up to the plate."

Posted by eric at 11:42 AM

May 1, 2011

Gehry: "You have to rise above" the excuses in architecture

Atlantic Yards Report

In the May 2011 issue of The Atlantic, under the rubric How Genius Works, several innovators are interviewed, among them architect Frank Gehry.

The brief interview focuses on the design for the building for the New World Symphony in Miami, but there are resonances for those of us who remember his role in Atlantic Yards.

Gehry begins:

ARCHITECTURE IS A SERVICE BUSINESS. An architect is given a program, budget, place, and schedule. Sometimes the end product rises to art—or at least people call it that.

After discussing his methods, Gehry concludes:

Look, architecture has a lot of places to hide behind, a lot of excuses. “The client made me do this.” “The city made me do this.” “Oh, the budget.” I don’t believe that anymore. In the end, you have to rise above them. You have to say you solved all that. You’re bringing an informed aesthetic point of view to a visual problem. You have freedom, so you have to make choices—and at the point when I make a choice, the building starts to look like a Frank Gehry building. It’s a signature.

In the case of the Atlantic Yards arena, Gehry's building, according to Forest City Ratner, was too big to be financed and, I'd add, it was integrated with the surrounding towers in a way that would not be feasible if the developer took many more years to build them.


Posted by steve at 10:21 PM

April 16, 2011

Flashback, 2005: Watch for Ratner’s 'bait and switch' (on Gehry designs)

Atlantic Yards Report

In a 9/10/05 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Paper, headlined Watch for Ratner’s 'bait and switch', Boerum Hill resident Dan Wiley was prescient:

I commend architect Frank Gehry for trying to make buildings wiggle like fish in developer Bruce Ratner’s arena/office/housing mega-complex. However, how many times have we seen renowned architects come up with early innovative designs for projects needing zoning and other approvals and than see those designs fade with the stamp of approval?

...But even if we were to accept these architectural promises at face value, would they be so great anyway? Isn’t this Gehry project simply putting a slippery skin on what is really at heart a dehumanizing Modernist series of super blocks? Maybe what we need are not whales or sharks (eminent domain) but rather smaller fish that have some respect for the coral of Brooklyn. That’s what Gehry should work on.

Of course Gehry's now gone, with the arena designed by sports specialist Ellerbe Becket (with a skin by buzzy firm SHoP), and the towers designed by SHoP and other architects yet to be named.


Posted by steve at 10:35 PM

March 31, 2011

There’s a ‘middle way’ in architecture

The Providence Journal
by David Brussat

Some will say my column of two weeks ago, “A modernist building I actually like,” should have run tomorrow.

Applause for a building designed by Frank Gehry ought to fall on April Fool’s Day. I will probably find some way to regret my kind words for his new Beekman Tower, a 76-story residential skyscraper that developer Bruce Ratner renamed “New York by Frank Gehry at 8 Spruce St.” By putting the architect’s name in the title of the building, Ratner revealed his doubts that it looked enough like a Gehry to lure edgy renters into its pricey units.

That’s why it appealed to me. It almost looks like a traditional New York skyscraper. Very not-Gehry. But a colleague who’d just visited New York and saw the building said it was awful. And my editor urged me to write about the difference between seeing a building in photos and seeing it in person. I think he was suggesting that I might have to revise and extend my remarks, as they say in Congress.

Well, since I still haven’t seen the building in person, I’m not yet prepared to revise my remarks. But I sure can extend them.


Posted by eric at 10:28 AM

March 25, 2011

Where should architects draw the ethical line? In discussion, Gehry and Ratner inevitably come up

Atlantic Yards Report

On the Glass House Conversations web site (connected to the Philip Johnson Glass House), writer Mark Lamster recently raised a question about architectural ethics, and of course Frank Gehry and Atlantic Yards came up.

Lamster posed the question:

How do we choose our clients? On this subject, Philip Johnson, self-professed "whore," was apt to quote H. H. Richardson's admonition that the "first principle of architecture is to get the job." That is rather cynical, perhaps, and in fact there were some clients (the mafia, for instance) for whom even Johnson would not work. But how do the rest of us know when and where to draw the line? Is it acceptable to work for a government with a spotty record on human rights? How about a corporation with a poor environmental history? How do we balance commercial imperatives with a desire for a moral practice?

To be a design professional is to navigate ethical territory that is rarely black or white, but some shade of gray. What compromises are and are not acceptable in this world?

Brooklyn-based writer Karrie Jacobs:

Architects in particular, because they rely on clients with excess money and clout to achieve their artistic and professional goals, are susceptible to temptation and moral failure. (See: Faust.)

Two examples come to mind:

...2) Frank Gehry and Bruce Ratner. To the many opponents of the Atlantic Yards project, this seemed like an unholy alliance. All I could figure was that Gehry was, for a very long time, blind to the politics of this gig because it gave him something he badly wanted: the chance to design an entire high-rise urban neighborhood. And because it promised to keep his firm in black-ink for a long, long time. I’m not convinced that morality had anything to do with Gehry’s exit from the deal. I just think that Ratner, ultimately, couldn’t afford to build Gehry’s dream neighborhood. The money and the clout had diminished.

Morality had nothing to do with Gehry's exit; his design (four towers constructed simultaneously with the arena, sharing HVAC) was impossible, and his cordial words upon leaving the job likely had to do with his other gig with Ratner, designing the Beekman Tower.


Posted by eric at 10:27 AM

March 22, 2011

Gehry parties with U2's Bono and actress Candice Bergen on his bday at 8 Spruce Street

The Real Deal

Really, Bono? Really?

Famed architect Frank Gehry celebrated his 82nd birthday this past Saturday during a fete on the 76th floor of New York by Gehry, the starchitect's latest project located at 8 Spruce Street in Lower Manhattan. Among the guests at the party, held in a penthouse unit inside the newly opened rental tower, were numerous stars of the art, music and real estate worlds, including actress Candice Bergen, singer Bono and Forest City Ratner CEO Bruce Ratner, which developed the 903-unit building.


Related coverage...

Curbed, Bono, Candice Bergen Get Invites to Frank Gehry's Penthouse Party

Developer Bruce Ratner presented the man of the hour with a 40-inch birthday cake shaped like a Gehry-esque tower, and God altered the elliptical orbit of the moon to create a lighting effect that helped New York by Gehry's steel curves shine extra bright above the Lower Manhattan skyline.

Photo: Philip Greenberg

Posted by eric at 10:41 AM

March 19, 2011

Critic Lange: Maybe Gehry's design was kinda modular, too

Atlantic Yards Report

In Bad Faith Towers, Design Observer's Alexandra Lange makes the connection between the Times's graphic, for illustrative purposes, of a pre-fabricated, modular tower that might be built at the Atlantic Yards site, and a Frank Gehry rendering of the arena block, which looks pretty darn modular.

She writes:

Are we so desperate for affordable housing (again, the recession changes everything) that we will take a chance on untested building technology? Who gets to be the guinea pig on the 34th floor? Surely Forest City Ratner did not want this news out the week of the Japanese quake.

...Surely Ratner will tart up the prefab units with some cast concrete lintels and blown-up brownstone details, and call them contextual. But the truth is, the Times rendering is not so far from the boxy stacks Gehry proposed after the billowing Miss Brooklyn proved too costly. As with the disappointing 8 Spruce Street, there's a thin value engineered line between industrial production and genius.


Posted by steve at 11:06 PM

March 7, 2011

An Atlantic Yards tidbit in a Beekman Tower review

Atlantic Yards Report

From Paul Goldberger's enthusiastic New Yorker review of the Beekman Tower, headlined Gracious Living: Frank Gehry’s swirling apartment tower:

Had Gehry merely licensed his name to Ratner (as many felt he did by his involvement with Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, in Brooklyn), letting him sell a standard-issue tower as a Frank Gehry building in exchange for Gehry's adding a few flourishes?

Goldberger says no.


Posted by eric at 11:31 PM

February 21, 2011

Gehry-Tower in New York: Meter-Monster in Manhattan

Der Spiegel
by Marc Pitzke

We have no idea what any of this says, but we loved the "Meter-Monster" headline.

The Google translation isn't much help, either, but there are some revealing passages.

"New York by Gehry" this giant apartment is immodest: New York, looks like Gehry. Also, the course was commissioned, this time for the real estate company Forest City Ratner-billion. But anyone who has worked there for the one who remains, refreshingly clear.

"We gave him a free hand," says Gilmartin, development head of Forest City Ratner, as she controls the visitor through the partly still under construction located guts - a "vertical city", she says, with more than 100,000 square meters of residential and land. "The only conditions: It had to be beautiful and profitability promise."


Posted by eric at 9:06 AM

February 16, 2011

Frank Gehry's Skyscraper Starts Leasing

by Julie Shapiro

Frank Gehry’s first skyscraper is finally opening its doors, developer Bruce Ratner announced Monday.

New York by Gehry, a 76-story tower just south of the Brooklyn Bridge, will open its apartment doors to prospective renters this week. Visitors will be able to tour a 37th-floor rental gallery, along with 18 model apartments, which Gehry also designed.

Gehry said in a statement that designing the interiors of the apartments as well as the building’s exterior made him feel connected to the thousands of people who would soon call the tower home.

"I hope they like it," the architect said in the statement.


NoLandGrab: And that's what passes for an interpersonal relationship with Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy.

Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

February 15, 2011

You Can Finally Rent a Piece of New York... by Gehry, That Is

NY Observer
by Matt Chaban

But "do-gooder, liberal" Bruce Ratner, champion of affordable housing, is pursuing potentially record-breaking rental prices.

About 100 of those apartments are now, after months of waiting, finally for rent, at prices that are anticipated to break records in the city's rental market. Simple studios—is anything simple where Gehry is concerned?—start at $2,630-per-month, one-bedrooms are $3,580, and two-bedrooms $5,945. A new rental gallery has just opened on the 37th floor, and renters will be able to tour 18 different model units.

"We knew that Frank's first-ever tower would transform the city's skyline, and felt it was critical that the entire building bear the indelible Frank Gehry imprint," developer Bruce Ratner said in a release. "We're thrilled we were able to realize Frank's vision and achieve a level of excellence that raises the bar."


Posted by eric at 12:00 PM

Gehry's 8 Spruce Street isn't pursuing LEED certification; Gang's Aqua is

Chicago Tribune
by Blair Kamin

"Do-gooder, liberals" Frank Gehry and Bruce Ratner aren't pursuing LEED certification for their Spruce Street skyscraper.

I wondered whether 8 Spruce Street is a green building, given that Gehry ignited a food fight in the architectural blogosphere last year when (not without reason) he dissed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system of certifying green buildings. In remarks made in Chicago, the Pritzker Prize winner also observed that green buildings, which often require extra upfront costs, don't pay back "in your lifetime."

Clearly stung by the outcry his remarks caused, Gehry later clarified and said that he supports green building practices. But he added that LEED isn't the only way to measure eco-friendly design. "A lot of our clients don’t apply for the LEED certification because it’s complicated and in their view, they simply don’t need it," he said.

Looks like the developer of 8 Spruce Street, Forest City Ratner Companies, is one of those clients.

"It won't be LEED certified," a spokeswoman for the project told me Monday in a phone interview. "It is, in many respects, a green building. We [are] not going to go through the formal process."


Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

February 12, 2011

Does Nicolai Ouroussoff understand that a city is more than just a skyline?

The Naparstek Post
By Aaron Naparstek

This blog post uses architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff's look at the tower designed by Frank Ghery's at 8 Spruce Street to demonstrate Ouroussoff's support of architecture that mostly serves the vanity of the architect.

My stream of consciousness and I read New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff’s review of the new Frank Gehry tower in Lower Manhattan. Nicolai’s text is in block quotes…

A more recent foray, the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, drew the ire of local activists, who depicted him as an aging liberal in bed with the devil — a New York City real estate developer.

Um, yeah, right. Those uppity Brooklyn activists were angry that an architect was working with a real estate developer. That was definitely the only issue there.

it seemed to epitomize the skyline’s transformation from a symbol of American commerce to a display of individual wealth.

Yay?… Oh, wait, he’s just reporting. Good observation, Nick!


See, to Nicolai Ourossoff, the way a building looks is much more important than the way it integrates with a community, relates to the neighborhood, impacts a city’s transportation system, quality of life and long-term sustainability. According to Nick, “None of this matters” as long as the building looks interesting on a postcard view of the skyline.


Posted by steve at 4:24 PM

February 11, 2011

Gehry’s $875 Million Tower Ripples High Above Brooklyn Bridge

by James S. Russell

This will come as a shocker — Bloomberg (the news source) loves the latest Gehry/Ratner collaboration. At least they had the sense to write this:

Developer Forest City Ratner Cos., notorious for the controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject (where Gehry was once the architect), will start signing leases this month on the first completed apartments. The topmost apartments won’t be ready until 2012.


Posted by eric at 10:07 AM

February 10, 2011

Downtown Skyscraper for the Digital Age

The New York Times
by Nicolai Ouroussoff

Many New Yorkers have been following the construction of the new residential tower at 8 Spruce Street, just south of City Hall, with a mix of awe and trepidation.

Frank Gehry, the building’s architect, has had a rough time in this city. His first commission here, years ago, was for an Upper East Side town house that was never built; his client, an oil heiress, fired him over Champagne and strawberries. A more recent foray, the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, drew the ire of local activists, who depicted him as an aging liberal in bed with the devil — a New York City real estate developer.

Actually, more like an aging megalomaniac in bed with the devil. But we're quibbling.

The Spruce Street project (formerly called Beekman Tower) would not only be Mr. Gehry’s first skyscraper, but it was also being built for the same developer, Bruce Ratner. And as the tallest luxury residential tower in the city’s history, it seemed to epitomize the skyline’s transformation from a symbol of American commerce to a display of individual wealth.

So, care to guess how the Gehry-worshipping Times critic feels about this new Gehry edifice?

Only now, as the building nears completion, is it possible to appreciate what Mr. Gehry has accomplished: the finest skyscraper to rise in New York since Eero Saarinen’s CBS building went up 46 years ago.

Read on — if you can bear it — for more where that came from.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, AY down the memory hole: NYT critic Ouroussoff says "local activists" depicted Gehry as "in bed with the devil," but he did too

New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff reviews (and mostly approves of) Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower, aka 8 Spruce Street, offering this aside:

A more recent foray, the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, drew the ire of local activists, who depicted him as an aging liberal in bed with the devil — a New York City real estate developer.

Really? Ouroussoff's piece links to Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, but here's what he wrote in June 2006:

But if the Gehry-Ratner lovefest has raised an expectation of innovative design, it has also stirred unease. Few would question Mr. Gehry’s talent. The question is whether he has allowed his experimental ethos to be harnessed for the sake of maximizing a developer’s profits.

It’s also fair to ask whether Mr. Gehry and other gifted architects have made a pact with the Devil, compromising their values for the sake of ever bigger commissions.

(Emphasis added)

Curbed, Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower the Best Skyscraper Since the '60s?

But the best building since 1965 also has its faults, primarily its six-story base clad in orange brick, which will house a public school. It's "a letdown after you've seen the gorgeously wrought exterior of the tower above." As for the widely panned flat side of 8 Spruce Street, Ouroussoff writes that "some may find perverse enjoyment in the fact that the building presents its backside to Wall Street." So full of gags, that Gehry.

Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

January 4, 2011

Beekman Tower Preview: Better Than the Movies It Plays Before?

by Joey Arak

Frank Gehry's Beekman Tower 8 Spruce Street New York by Gehry has been compared to the reality-defying architecture seen in Inception, and just like that blockbuster, it turns out Gehry's skyscraper also has a big Hollywood budget. A commercial for the coming-soon rental tower has been rolling before flicks at the Regal Union Square movie theater, a shorter version of the video seen on the building's new website. We just watched it for the first time, and it's safe to say this video—nay, film—would definitely win the Oscar in the Best Feature, Rental Building Promo category. No wonder the rents are so damn high!

The artsy clip created by dbox begins with our Starchitect of the Year sketching the building's shape while talking about the bay windows and showing off a watch from his signature collection, because that's how humble, hard-working anonymous architects get down. Then it cuts to some hipster watching the clip in a cab, followed by a quick-cutting barrage of Beekman Tower (we're still calling it that, by the way) glamour shots interspersed with scenes from neighborhoods that in most cases are nowhere near the building. Instrumental music swells in the background, and in the end our entire reality is revealed to be an app on a higher being's iPad. We're guessing that higher being is Bruce Ratner?


Related content...

New York by Gehry, The Film

Posted by eric at 1:37 PM

December 19, 2010

Notes on a Year: Christopher Hawthorne on architecture

Los Angeles Times
By Christopher Hawthorne

This piece by the Los Angeles Times architecture critic is an example of how adding the name of starchitect Frank Ghery to the Atlantic Yards project helped to blind some to the eminent domain abuse and opaque political process used to impose the project on Brooklyn.

A livelier, more political sort of fallout is the subject of "In the Footprint," which closed Dec. 11 after a buzzed-about run in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood. (I didn't see the production, but its creators at a Brooklyn company called the Civilians — Steve Cosson, Jocelyn Clarke and Michael Friedman — sent me a copy of the script.) Like an Anna Deavere Smith script set to music, the show uses verbatim quotations from published interviews with public officials, neighborhood activists, developer Bruce Ratner and Gehry. Among its goals is to understand why many local residents were so deeply opposed to the proposed Atlantic Yards development, which in its hyper-ambitious original version would have added 16 towers and a staggering 8 million square feet of new construction, covering 22 acres, to a mostly midrise landscape near downtown Brooklyn. After the credit crunch hit the project was significantly downsized and Gehry was fired by Ratner; the only portion going forward is an arena designed by a young New York firm called SHoP. The Civilians' treatment of the story does the work of cultural historians with unexpected flair and an effectively light touch, as when one resident says of the SHoP design, which to put it kindly was produced rather hurriedly, "Some people think it looks like the George Foreman Grill." Now that you mention it, that's not too far off.

There is no question that the development was overscaled, but Gehry's enthusiasm for it gave the project momentum and at least a sheen of cultural legitimacy. Indeed, the contrast between its elephantine mass and some nimble architectural moments — particularly in Gehry's innovative initial design for the arena — made it difficult for me to easily pigeonhole. For many locals, on the other hand, it represented a takeover of their streets by outside interests, a new brand of urban renewal hiding beneath celebrity architecture's endlessly diverting cloak.


NoLandGrab: It is certainly a new brand of urban renewal when it's applied to a neighborhood that already had $1 million condos when the project was first revealed to the public.

Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, The "sheen of cultural legitimacy" Gehry provided, confounding one critic from afar

Yes, Gehry did provide some cultural legitimacy. It was Gehry who drew praise from the Times editorial page, which told us that the buildings "would add a sense of excitement." It was Gehry who convinced New York magazine essayist Kurt Andersen that "Our long architectural snooze is over... Brooklyn should embrace him."

But the "nimble architectural moments"--perhaps the concept of the Urban Room connected to the arena?--should have been connected to street-level analyses of the project, not to mention the role of the Empire State Development Corporation and eminent domain.

Architectural critics--notably Herbert Muschamp and Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times--never even met the first, easier challenge.

Posted by steve at 8:00 AM

December 6, 2010

The Eyesore of the Month


Architectural Abortions from the USA and Around the World
(And Sometimes Other Miscellany Infecting the Landscape)

December 2010

Unsustainability foe James Howard Kunstler is apparently becoming a big fan of the Bruce Ratner oeuvre.

Presenting the new Frank Gehry-designed extravaganza, No. 8 Spruce Street (a.k.a. The Beekman) in lower Manhattan, 76 stories and more than a million square feet of luxury apartments – with a school and a hospital on the lower floors. "It's stupid how good it is!" the architect crowed to The New York Observer. Well, I agree with the first part of that sentence. He probably thinks it's a "green" building, too. What it actually is is a declension of floor plates that produce a whopping fee through sheer repetition, and yet another instantly obsolete tall building that will never be renovated, to clutter up the already skyscraper-plagued island at the center of New York City. The dents running up the building's exterior are a cute touch accomplished with Mr. Gehry's proprietary computer-aided-design (CAD) program. Gosh, does that make the building look special! What the building actually conveys most vividly is the despotic narcissism of celebtriy architecture.

My guess is that the developer, Bruce Ratner, will fall short of selling enough units in this monstrosity to avoid foreclosure. It's the economy, stupid!


Photo: Jonas Maciunas, Hartford, CT

Posted by eric at 9:53 AM

December 5, 2010

Frank Gehry and a West Coast patron make up. Sound familiar?

Atlantic Yards Report

Connie Bruck's New Yorker profile this week, The Art of the Billionaire: How Eli Broad took over Los Angeles, contains several mentions of architect Frank Gehry and his "bitter history" with the headstrong Broad, including over the Disney Hall plan Broad wanted to dilute.

Bruck writes:

Some weeks before the opening, Broad invited about seventy people to a private celebration on the stage at Disney Hall. Gehry told me that his wife, Berta, had persuaded him to make peace with Broad. "Frank knew there was hardly a commission in L.A. he might want in which Eli wouldn't have some role," a close friend of Gehry's told me. Gehry gave Broad a rendering of Disney Hall, signed, "For Eli Broad, our visionary genius, with love, Frank Gehry '97." Gehry recalls rising to toast him. "All of you have heard about the problems Eli and I had, but look at what we made. We're both control freaks of different types and we collided."

Broad got up. "All I want to say is Frank was right."

Such unsurprising pragmatism from Gehry recalls somewhat his consistently positive statements about his friend and client Bruce Ratner, who bounced him from the Atlantic Yards but kept on the Beekman Tower.


Posted by steve at 9:13 AM

November 25, 2010

Frank Gehry Doesn't Like Donald Trump's Hair

by Jen Chung

These two kind of deserve each other, no?

The Observer accompanied architect Frank Gehry on a visit to Beekman Tower, the luxury residential skyscraper at 8 Beekman Street. Apparently Gehry told developer Bruce Ratner to make the building shorter than the Trump World Tower, so they wouldn't have to deal with Donald Trump (Beekman Tower ended up being taller). And Gehry added that after he turned down a Trump project, they were once at the same function, "I tried to shake his hand and he said, 'I don't talk to people like you.' So he doesn't talk to me... I don't care... I don't like his hairdo anyway." Trump told the Observer, "Maybe I just don't find him interesting. It doesn't mean I don't like him."


Posted by eric at 9:17 AM

November 23, 2010

Cheek to Cheek With Frank Gehry

NY Observer
by Chloe Malle

Given Frank Gehry's critical role in the selling of Atlantic Yards, his elevator might eventually be going in the other direction.

"Where would you like to go?" a construction worker asked. Everyone was in hard hats.

"Uh, we're going to 37, take us to—" someone started to say.

"Heaven!" Frank Gehry chimed in. "We'd like to go to heaven. Press heaven!"

As the recently installed elevator at 8 Spruce Street floated soundlessly upward, Mr. Gehry, the building's architect, stood facing the closed doors, his hands laced together in front of him.

Joe Rechichi, a project manager with developer Forest City Ratner; Mr. Gehry's chief of staff, Meaghan Lloyd; his daughter, Brina Gehry; his son-in-law, Daniel; and a construction worker on the 76-story building—the tallest downtown—were along for the ride.

"Heaven, I'm in heaven, and dah dah ... Who's that?" Mr. Gehry asked the group.

"Fred Astaire," answered Ms. Lloyd.

"Yes, you're right, it was him." He continued humming the Irving Berlin melody.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, In Observer profile of Gehry, Beekman Tower down the memory hole: "construction stopped" and "resumed"

From a New York Observer profile this week headlined Cheek to Cheek With Frank Gehry:

CRITICS AND NAYSAYERS suggest Frank Gehry isn't fit to sharpen his claws on the New York skyline given such failures as the Atlantic Yards arena, also undertaken with Mr. Ratner, and the Guggenheim on the East River, a project that Mr. Gehry insists "was never real. It was always more of a dream." Eight Spruce Street--the building's official name, though it was first known as Beekman Tower --almost wasn't real, either. At one point, soon after the September 2008 economic crash, construction stopped at 38 stories, prompting forlorn Curbed commenters to gripe, "so depressing, the resulting building is just going to be a huge, shiny, stumpy thing."

But after a two-month hiatus, construction resumed, resulting in a finished product taller than the design originally proposed. "When we started, it was lower," Mr. Gehry said. "It was 66 floors, and when you go from a 66-floor building to a 76-floor building, there's a big cost implication. So I had to prove it, but when you saw the models of the building, it was obvious that the proportion got a lot better."

In the November 2009 unveiling of the facade. Mr. Gehry took the stage and looked straight up at the 76 stories. After a three-second pause, he turned back to the audience, "No Viagra!"

The phrases "construction stopped" and "construction resumed" suggest some sort of independent force of nature affected construction. Actually, developer Forest City Ratner stopped construction in order to renegotiate with the unions.

Posted by eric at 12:01 PM

November 19, 2010

Nothing about Atlantic Yards at Gehry's Pratt appearance

Atlantic Yards Report

I couldn't get into the Frank Gehry appearance at the Pratt Institute November 10, but according to the Brooklyn Paper (Cheery Gehry not weary of theory), those of us interested in Atlantic Yards didn't miss much:

The world’s most-renowned living architect, Frank Gehry, stopped by Pratt University last week to impart some sage-like wisdom to students and never mentioned that his greatest failure, the Atlantic Yards development, was only blocks away.

...Appearing completely at ease, Gehry reminisced about his early days in the architecture business, long before he would design the Guggenheim Musuem at Bilbao, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The students hung on Gehry’s every word, and laughed generously at his jokes.

Actually, it's the Pratt Institute, not University.


Posted by eric at 6:16 PM

November 18, 2010

Cheery Gehry not weary of theory

The Brooklyn Paper
by Stephen Brown

The world’s most-renowned living architect, Frank Gehry, stopped by Pratt University last week to impart some sage-like wisdom to students and never mentioned that his greatest failure, the Atlantic Yards development, was only blocks away.

Gehry came to the university to address students from the School of Architecture, though it seemed the entire student body was begging ushers for a seat inside the auditorium.

And like any celebrity, Gehry kept the crowd waiting, showing up about 30 minutes late to his own talk — though the throngs of buzzing students did not seem to mind in the least.

Gehry’s modesty, casual dress, and colloquial style did nothing to diminish his presence. Nor did his Atlantic Yards designs projected onto the stage before he arrived, though the developer, Bruce Ratner, fired Gehry last year to go in a different (and cheaper) direction.



The New York Times, Frank Gehry (a Part Owner) Helps Develop a Landmark

This Times story actually has nothing to do with Gehry's Brooklyn appearance, or Atlantic Yards, but it's noteworthy for a number of reasons: the starchitect's interest in preserving a worthy modernist building rather than creating "a neighborhood practically from scratch"; that people will throw money at you just for being famous; and, best of all, the most absurd nautical commission ever:

Mr. Gehry was happy when the Camins group subsequently put the building in the market. And, he said, he was even happier when he learned that the Manhattan developer Richard Cohen (who was once married to the TV newscaster Paula Zahn) had decided to buy it. Mr. Gehry was at the Cohen-Zahn wedding in 1987, and he is now designing a sailboat for Mr. Cohen.

We recommend that Mr. Cohen keep the life-vests handy.

Posted by eric at 11:50 AM

November 9, 2010

A critic lauds Gehry, suggests Ratner's behavior as a corporate citizen is not something "an architect can do anything about"

Atlantic Yards Report

The school of blind Frank Gehry worship is alive and well.

"Frank Gehry is the most important, imaginative, and obsessed architect since Louis I. Kahn, wrote Gerry Coulter, a sociologist and critic at Bishop's University (Sherbrooke, Quebec) in a long essay last spring in the online magazine Euroart titled Form, Function, and Context: Frank Gehry.

The essay includes a strong defense of Gehry's role in Atlantic Yards, with Coulter dismissing the idea that an architect bears any responsibility for his client. It's a rather narrow view, but surely not an uncommon one.

Miss Brooklyn

Coulter, drawing on secondhand reports, praised Gehry's no-longer-viable flagship tower:

Miss Brooklyn presses the broken line to its extreme which have caused opponents to charge him with being "entirely a-contextual" (Curbed, 2006). To the contrary, what Gehry has done is to take the idea of the private dwelling, no longer feasible as New York continues to grow skyward, and "stacked" individual units on top of each other to make his artful tower. Gehry told a reporter from the New York Daily News: "I spent a lot of time looking around Brooklyn, seeing what it is, what it has been in the past. And there's a kind of friendly messiness that I found. This is a way of expressing that" (Sederstrom, 2009). This may be one of Gehry's more successful efforts to introduce a passionate player into a specific context in a highly sensitive manner.

At the time of writing it appears that this Miss Brooklyn may not be built as resistance to an insensitive developer combined with an economic downturn are likely to see the project halted. One wonders though, in twenty-five years, when Brooklyn has accepted taller buildings (as it must for New York to continue to deal with its inherent land problem), if we might not look back on this artful project as a missed opportunity? Gehry has certainly left a deep challenge to any architect who wishes to work on this site in the years to come.

Yes, some people ambivalent about Atlantic Yards say the project would've been enhanced had Gehry remained.

However, the entire arena block--in which the towers were to be integrated into the arena, thus buffering an arena in a residential neighborhood--has been redesigned to save Forest City Ratner money.

The architect and the developer

Coulter writes:

His involvement in Atlantic Yards has led to a sustained criticism of Gehry which constantly seems targeted at something other than the architect. There is understandable resistance to building upwards (in an old residential low rise area), and there are concerns about the cost of the new units displacing existing Brooklyn-ites. Both of these are valid concerns but are not matters of concern for architects but for city planners and local politicians. On the cost of units and the lack of social housing, Gehry, who enjoy's building in Europe which has much more regulation, notes that this is a problem general to the United States: "there are no clients for social housing in America. There is no program, no nothing. City planning? Forget it. It's a kind of bureaucratic nonsense. It has nothing to do with ideas. It only has to do with real estate and politics" (Academy of Achievement, 1995).

(Emphasis added)

The issue in Brooklyn went beyond scale and displacement. Surely not all architects would agree with the notion that they should have no concern about the process behind the project.

What about eminent domain? Gehry wouldn't answer when asked about it.


NoLandGrab: The Great Man was just following orders, after all.

Posted by eric at 10:33 AM

November 4, 2010

Gehry's speaking at Pratt November 10 (on "Architecture and Beauty"); chances of getting in low, but he should field some AY questions

Atlantic Yards Report

Though the Pratt Institute has announced that architect Frank Gehry will speak at the School of Architecture's fall 2010 lecture and events series at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, November 10, don't expect to get in.

Thank goodness. We were afraid we were going to have to listen to the great man's pompous platitudes and another hackneyed story about a "Brooklyn bride."

The event, to be held at Memorial Hall Auditorium is free and open to the public, but priority will be given to Pratt students and faculty members with valid ID at 2:30 p.m. Members of the public will be admitted at 2:50 p.m. should seating be available.

No press access for me

I asked for press access and was told that "we are at capacity for press seating... Please note that we have an extremely limited number of press seats and that seating priority at the event will be given to Pratt students and staff members."

I asked which news outlets had priority, so we know where to look for coverage, and also asked if the event would be taped/webcast.

I didn't get a response.

Questions Brooklyn might have for Gehry

That's too bad, because Brooklyn is the place where Gehry should be asked if he has second thoughts about wanting to "create a neighborhood practically from scratch," about letting Forest City Ratner keep him from meeting with the community, about cracking that Atlantic Yards protesters "should have been picketing Henry Ford," and whether he thinks an outdoor plaza can work at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.


Posted by eric at 10:52 PM

Gehry returns to the borough of his greatest failure

NY Post
by Stephen Brown

He's baaaaaaack!

Starchitect Frank Gehry will return to the borough where he proposed his most ambitious design — and became his greatest failure — next week.

In one of his first public appearances since he was fired by Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner in 2009, Gehry will speak at the Pratt Institute on Nov. 10.

Gehry will converse with Julie Iovine, the executive editor of The Architect’s Newspaper, the publication that he famously told in 2009, “The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn—I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

It is happening, though not with Gehry. The Barclays Center arena, and perhaps the larger, still stalled project, is now being designed by SHoP Architects.

The one significant idea from Gehry’s design that appears to remain part of the Barclays Center design is the “Urban Room,” an 80-foot glass-walled atrium that will serve as the base of a skyscraper at the front of the arena, as well as a public space.

That would be the imaginary "Urban Room," since Ratner has no plans to build any office tower at this juncture, and possibly ever.

Frank Gehry at Pratt Institute Memorial Hall [200 Willoughby St. between Classon and Washington avenues, (718) 636-3514], Nov. 10 at 3 pm.


Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

October 15, 2010

Gehry: loss of arena commission "had nothing to do with me or [Ratner], it had to do with circumstances"

Atlantic Yards Report

They still love Frank Gehry in New York, as the starchitect appeared Wednesday, 10/13/10 at the 92nd Street Y, interviewed by New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger, to much acclaim.

The discussion was wide-ranging, though Gehry spent a good deal of time discussing his latest New York building, the striking Beekman Tower (aka 8 Spruce Street) in Lower Manhattan, the borough's tallest residential building.

There was a bare mention of Atlantic Yards. Gehry said he and developer Bruce Ratner "are really good friends" and that his loss of the project--for a smaller, cheaper arena not as coupled with four towers--"had nothing to do with me or him, it had to do with circumstances."


Posted by eric at 11:53 AM

October 5, 2010

Gehry on New Gehry Building

The Wall Street Journal
by Peter Grant

The WSJ interviews Frank Gehry, principally about the Beekman Tower.

His earlier designs for major signature projects, like a new Guggenheim museum over the East River and a Nets Arena at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, never got off the drawing boards.

In an interview he discussed the new tower, which is going to be marketed by its developer, Forest City Ratner Cos., as "New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street." Here are excerpts:

WSJ: How did your design take into account its neighbors like the Woolworth Building?

FG: I am a contexualist. I pay a lot of attention to where I'm doing things.

Whoa. What? Gehry allegedly said "I don't do context" when asked about the Case Western Law School in 2005. And nothing about his monstrous Atlantic Yards design betrayed any interest in context. Must've had a change of heart.

WSJ: It must feel satisfying to see this tower completed after some of your other projects here, like the Guggenheim and Atlantic Yards, didn't come to fruition.

FG: The Atlantic Yards was the same client [Forest City Ratner] and there was a business decision to change and make it a much smaller building.

It wasn't like everyone says that my building was more expensive. That wasn't it. My building was within the parameters of their program and not more expensive. I'm very careful about that.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Gehry: change of arena architect a business decision, says his plan was within cost parameters

Well, the new arena, since it's smaller, is less expensive.

As I wrote in July 2009, Gehry's design was impossible, unless all four towers wrapping it could be completed roughly in sequence.

Also, the New York Daily News reported that the high cost of safety glass had contributed to the astounding 50% increase in the announced price tag, from December 2006 to March 2008.

NoLandGrab: Yeah, when they finally figured out that locating a glass-walled arena just 20 feet from two busy New York City avenues might be a bit of safety risk.

Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

September 16, 2010

The rippling New York building which looks like the set of movie Inception

The Daily Mail

Bet you couldn't guess from the headline whose building they might be talking about.

It looks like a scene from the movie Inception, but this rippling 76-storey megalith is actually a real life building which stands in downtown Manhattan.

The Beekman Tower, which was designed by architect Frank Gehry, is the latest addition to the New York skyline and is set to be one of the city’s tallest buildings when it launches later this year.

It’s undulating steel frame provides the illusion of movement, which is reminiscent of the transforming architecture in Christopher Nolan’s Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a thief who extracts information from the subconscious mind of his victims while they dream.


NoLandGrab: Which is in turn reminiscent of the plot of Atlantic Yards, which stars Bruce Ratner as a thief who extracts private property and a billion dollars in subsidies from homeowners and taxpayers while our elected officials are wide awake.

Posted by eric at 9:07 AM

August 20, 2010

The Agonizing Slowness of Locating Eli Broad's New Museum

by Steve Delahoyde

Remember last year when everyone knew that Frank Gehry was going to get kicked off the Atlantic Yards project (including Gehry) but it was drawn out for months and months until it finally happened and surprised not a soul? If we were to award a prize for this sort of story, maybe the UnBeige Medal for Delaying the Probably-Inevitable, of course it would have gone to Gehry and Co. This year's medal recipient is another easy decision: Eli Broad's new museum in California.


Posted by eric at 11:36 AM

Beekman Tower: Now Glistening to the Very Top

by Matthew Schuerman

Frank Gehry's design for the Beekman Tower in Lower Manhattan elicited a wide range of responses when its designs were circulated two years ago. Among them: Just how will the shiny steel surface fit in among lower Manhattan's stone towers?

While the building is still several months away from completion, the stainless steel siding appeared to have reached the top of the 76 floors this week, giving passersby a chance to assess it.

The building, at 8 Spruce Street, was planned during the real estate boom...and, against all odds, went up during the bust. Construction did stall last year while the developer, Forest City Ratner, renegotiated costs lower -- but work resumed within a few months. The steel structure topped off last November, and shortly afterwards, workers began installing the undulating stainless steel curtain wall.


NoLandGrab: Frank Gehry design? Don't they mean Peter Jackson?

Photo: Matthew Schuerman/WNYC

Posted by eric at 11:22 AM

July 26, 2010

Beekman Tower: Gehry's Downtown Skyscraper

by Murrye Bernard

Frank Gehry's second architectural venture into New York City is also his tallest building yet. Spiraling 76 stories and enveloping 1.1 million square feet, the Beekman Tower dominates the nearby Woolworth building in downtown Manhattan. Under construction since 2006, the newest addition to the city's distinct skyline is expected to open early next year, and it proves that Gehry's signature, sculptural vocabulary translates successfully into skyscraper form.

Although many refer to Beekman as a "luxury" residential building, its 900-plus units will be market-rate rentals, rather than the condominium model. As part of a unique public-private partnership [NLG: AKA massive subsidies], the building will house an elementary school in its base, as well as an ambulatory care center for New York Downtown Hospital. Retail spaces will occupy the street level, and two adjacent public plazas have been designed by award-winning landscape and urban design firm Field Operations.

New York City has not always been so receptive to Gehry. After several failed attempts to build in Manhattan, he finally completed the IAC Headquarters on the West Side Highway. Its billowing, fritted glass facade did not indicate smooth sailing, however, as the building received more than its fair share of criticism. Brooklyn wasn't very receptive to Gehry, either. Last summer his controversial and ultimately too-expensive design for Atlantic Yards was scrapped by Forest City Ratner, the very same developer responsible for Beekman Tower.

Though reaction to Beekman Tower has generally been positive, it has not escaped criticism for a couple of its design elements. The six-floor base that houses the public school is a vast departure from the rest of the sleek steel-and-glass facade; the red-orange brick plinth with punched windows looks like a typical, uninspired school design. Also typical of public school projects, Gehry had to grapple with a very tight budget and strict guidelines for this component of the project. Another point of criticism is that the rippling facade is absent from the south side, which is completely flat. There have been many theories as to why it was designed as such, ranging from zoning issues to ill-informed aesthetics. It has been reported that this side was flattened due to the main issue that has plagued the project from the start: budget constraints.


Posted by eric at 10:32 AM

June 15, 2010


by Paul Goldberger

Let’s kill all the lawyers,” Dick the Butcher famously said in Henry VI, Part II, but lately it has seemed like it is the architects whom playwrights have wanted to kill off. Well, maybe they don’t exactly want to kill them off, since they seem to need them more than ever as protagonists, given that two plays about architects were staged in New York at the same time this spring. But if playwrights have awakened to a new love of architecture as a subject, it doesn’t appear to translate into love for architects themselves. Neither of these plays is exactly what you would call a flattering portrait.

Gehry looms large over Safdie’s play, since part of the plot involves the claim that glare from the building created problems for a neighbor, which in fact did happen when light reflected off the steel surface of Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. And the whole Staten Island scheme is a stand-in for Gehry’s Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. The plot is contrived, and becomes more so as it goes on, since Safdie, who is the son of the architect Moshe Safdie, is torn between wanting to give architects room to be creative and telling the world how overbearing they can be. But at its best the play is a hilarious sendup of idiotic architect-speak, and a reminder of the gap between the public’s demand that buildings be ever more exciting and entertaining, and their need to fulfill certain practical functions. One of many plot twists involves a confession by the former architecture critic of the Times that he and several other leading architecture critics—the “Bilbao 12,” they were called—conspired with developers and public officials to create “archi-tourism by starchitects,” and were paid off to write an endless series of positive reviews of buildings by the likes of Eberhardt Shlaminger, which in the real world translates to Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, et al. It’s comforting, I suppose, to know that Safdie isn’t inclined to let the critics get away with anything, either.


Posted by eric at 10:08 AM

June 3, 2010

Throwing Stones at Builders’ Crass Houses

The New York Times
by Jason Zinoman

The Times gets around to reviewing The Bilbao Effect.

Mr. Safdie deserves credit for trying something more ambitious, a farce of ideas in a style that only certain playwrights, like John Guare, can pull off. Echoing the recent brouhaha over Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the plot imagines a controversy about a Staten Island development designed by a famous architect with little concern for the public.

That “starchitect,” Erhardt Shlaminger (Joris Stuyck, performing with a mix of vanity, wit and entitlement), faces censure by his peers at the American Institute of Architects. Riffing on a problem that beset Mr. Gehry’s design of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Mr. Safdie has Shlaminger’s creation reflect sunlight into the windows of a nearby apartment building with such fierceness that the temperature inside soars. Paul Bolzano (Anthony Giaimo) lived in one of those apartments and claims the reflection sent his wife into a depression.


NoLandGrab: Having peered up at Gehry's (and Ratner's) Beekman Tower a few weeks ago on a sunny day, we can attest that the reflected sunlight issue wasn't limited to Disney Hall.

Posted by eric at 9:27 AM

Review and Comment: New Guide for New City

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Henrik Krogius

A review of the new AIA Guide to New York City reveals what architecture critics really think about Atlantic Yards, now that they no longer need to kowtow to the project's deposed starchitect.

The new Guide has nothing good to say about Atlantic Yards, especially with Gehry now out of its planning.


Posted by eric at 9:19 AM

May 21, 2010

The Bilbao Effect: a theatrical satire, with a starchitect, a megadevelopment, and some AY echoes

Atlantic Yards Report

No, The Bilbao Effect, Oren Safdie's highly entertaining satirical play, isn't about Frank Gehry, even though the title takes off from the well-known phenomenon of enlisting a starchitect to create a signature civic building, like Gehry's Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

After all, the protagonist is arrogant Swiss starchitect Erhardt Shlaminger, a man convinced of his own genius, while Gehry can get self-deprecating and defensive.

Nor is it about Atlantic Yards, though it is clearly inspired, in part, by the project. After all, the official blurb that states it "tackles controversial urban design issues that New Yorkers have recently encountered in Brooklyn as a result of the hotly-debated plans to redevelop the Atlantic Yards [sic] into an architecture-star mega-development."

Architecture on trial

The play, staged appropriately at the Center for Architecture in Greenwich Village, takes the form of a mock trial of Shlaminger, held by the American Institute for Architects (and subject to the unreliable judge's caprice).

Why? His project--well, the architectural imperfections that reflect extreme heat (read Gehry's Disney Hall) and falling ice (read Daniel Libeskind's addition to the Royal Ontario Museum)--is supposed to have caused a woman's suicide.


NoLandGrab: Let's not forget Mr. Gehry's own avalanche problem.

Posted by eric at 11:47 AM

May 19, 2010

Architects at Play, Dangling Medals

The New York Times
by Aric Chen

Shhh, ixnay on Lantic Yardsatay, here comes Frank.

Frank Gehry (’89), whose own Pritzker ceremony took place in Nara, Japan — “As a student, I learned how to make tatami mats and was in a gagaku orchestra,” he reminisced — could be spotted in head-to-toe black and, at 81, looking slimmer than before. “I go up and down,” he shrugged.

At 8 p.m. it was feeding time, and the crowd of 400-plus was ushered into the soaring, barrel-vaulted Great Hall. Looking across the moodily lighted space blooming with peony table centerpieces, one could guess at the conversations taking place: about how shockingly few of the New Yorkers had been to Ellis Island. About how many Sanaa buildings one had visited. About anything but Atlantic Yards and Beekman Tower’s flying construction debris, if Mr. Gehry was within earshot.


Posted by eric at 11:09 PM

May 10, 2010

In Safdie's New Satire, Architecture Has Tragic Consequences

Architectural Record
by Rachel Somerstein

Not much rankles like large-scale urban development. Take, for instance, some of the more extreme claims regarding the plan for a sports arena at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards: ill-conceived, a waste of taxpayer money, a circumvention of the democratic process. But would anyone go so far as to indict it, or any other development, as a cause of death?

"More extreme claims?" Those seem pretty straightforward to us.

That’s the central accusation in Los Angeles writer Oren Safdie’s play, The Bilbao Effect. The new work is a tragicomic satire in which a Staten Island resident takes an architect to a court of sorts—a hearing in front of fellow American Institute of Architects members—because he blames the aggressive form and metallic skin of a project by the designer for the circumstances leading up to his wife’s suicide.

Despite parallels between Safdie’s play and the real Atlantic Yards—it contains explicit references to Frank Gehry, the project’s original architect (he stepped down in 2009)—the writer says he doesn’t intend to mirror a specific situation or designer.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Are criticisms of Atlantic Yards "extreme claims"? Only to a reviewer uninformed of some rather mainstream critiques

As I commented, why exactly are "ill-conceived, a waste of taxpayer money, a circumvention of the democratic process" deemed "some of the more extreme claims regarding the plan for a sports arena at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards"?

After all, the New York City Independent Budget Office called the arena a money-loser for the city and Municipal Art Society then-President Kent Barwick, not exactly a radical, suggested, “Maybe the absurdity with which that proceeded will awaken the desire for a more rational process.”

Posted by eric at 11:20 PM

February 18, 2010

A Little Less Frank: The Evolving Design of Atlantic Yards

d|visible magazine
by Murrye Bernard

Quite a few errors in this Frank Gehry-focused history of the Atlantic Yards project.

Atlantic Yards. Say those two words to any resident of Fort Greene, Prospect Heights, Park Slope or Downtown Brooklyn and they are likely to be met with a glare. This abandoned rail yard along Atlantic Avenue was snapped up by developer Forest City Ratner, in some instances by eminent domain, to create a mixed-use development comprised of residential towers containing units at both market rate as well as those for moderate to low income households, commercial space, and the Barclay Center, an arena for professional basketball team New Jersey Nets.


NoLandGrab: The "abandoned rail yard" is the Long Island Rail Road's Vanderbilt Yard, a working train yard key to the LIRR's operation. It's only "abandoned" in the sense that New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to sell it to developer Forest City Ratner for a fraction of its value, with sweetheart payment terms, to boot.

Posted by eric at 8:45 PM

December 17, 2009

Frank Gehry: 'Don't call me a starchitect'

The Independent

The starchitect who designed the first version of Atlantic Yards is quoted bellyaching about Atlantic Yards opponents:

His relatively orthodox Beekman Tower, a 76-storey residential skyscraper, is due to open next year in Manhattan. But it was with the sprawling and ambitious Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn that he was to have made his mark on the city. Last December, however, in bid to cut costs, property developer Bruce Ratner fired Gehry from the project, scrapped six years' worth of design work in process, and replaced it with, in the words of New York Magazine, "a graceless knock-off by a journey-man stadium-builder".

Critics in the city painted a picture of a celebrity architect hung out to dry by a property magnate who had used the Gehry name to obtain tax breaks, to win out over rival bids and to secure the power to evict tenants. Asked about events, Gehry merely says the collapse was "down to a set of opposing interests that blocked the project".


NoLandGrab: OK, how 'bout we call him an #@%&!?

Atlantic Yards Report, Gehry blames Atlantic Yards debacle on opponents, not developer's ambition

Norman Oder calls a technical foul on Gehry:

Gehry can't get away with just blaming opponents.

His design was impossible. There was no market for the office building known as Building 1, so forget about the much-touted Urban Room. And it's questionable whether the other residential towers planned to ring the arena could be built on the original schedule, given the competition for scarce housing subsidies.

And Gehry's never explained why, if he works "tight to the bone," the cost of his arena soared. Was it for security measures?

Posted by lumi at 6:49 AM

December 13, 2009

A Million Little Cultural Pieces - A smattering of moments that changed the way we entertain ourselves.

This item was found in a listing of moments from the past decade.

June 4: Frank Gehry is off the Atlantic Yards development, six years after his plan was unveiled. Widely hated project now even more widely hated.


Posted by steve at 6:47 AM

November 21, 2009

Ratner and Gehry Party Ruined by Atlantic Yards

The proposed Atlantic Yards project cast a pall over the celebration between the starchitect who was canned from the project and developer Bruce Ratner during the topping-off ceremony for the Beekman Tower.

The New York Observer - Gehry Gets Topped Out in Lower Manhattan
By Eliot Brown

Developer Bruce Ratner (left) took some time away Thursday from fretting over his planned Atlantic Yards project to host a topping out soirée for his Frank Gehry-designed Beekman apartment tower, capping the vertical rise of what is to be the tallest residential building in the city.

Filling half of Beekman Street at the Lower Manhattan tower's base, Mr. Ratner and a host of union officials and others involved in the project all lauded the development--started pre-Lehman crash, when filling a luxury tower at high rates seemed a bit more realistic--before hoisting a concrete bucket up 867 feet to the building's top.

(In the meantime, the Atlantic Yards project was hit with another lawsuit.)

Gothamist - Ratner And Gehry's Beekman Tower Topped Off

Yesterday, developer Bruce Ratner and architect Frank Gehry celebrated the "topping off" of the 76-story Beekman Tower in lower Manhattan. A 10-pound bucket of concrete was lifted 900 feet onto the roof of the 1.1 million square foot skyscraper, which will have rental apartments, a pre-K through 8th grade public school, an ambulatory care center for NY Downtown Hospital, retail space, and public plazas.

Gehry, whose presence in Ratner's in-limbo Atlantic Yards project has been diminished, was in high spirits—he apparently pointed to the top of the building and said, "No Viagra." (It's his tallest building.) He told the Observer's Eliot Brown, "First of all, it’s a New York building, and so I respected the body of the New York skyscraper...We built many models of this. I holed myself up two days in a tall hotel room here and just looked at the skyline while I was designing it.” He also said the tower's undulation was inspired by Bernini.

While it may have been triumphant for Ratner to see progress on the skyscraper, he was served with another lawsuit to block the development of Atlantic Yards.

The New York Observer - rank Gehry Will Wait to Ascend His Own Tower
By Reid Pillifant

At a topping-off ceremony for his Beekman Tower yesterday, 80-year old architect Frank Gehry took to the podium and made one of those slightly randy jokes that men can get away with when they're 80. Mr. Gehry pointed his finger upright toward the 76-tower residential complex and bluntly proclaimed: "No Viagra."

Mr. Gehry said he will wait awhile to see the view from what will eventually be the tallest residential building in Manhattan. "I can't wait till it's finished. I have height freights, I'm not going to go up. I'll wait till the real elevators are in," he said. The Pritzker-prize winner told Eliot Brown that his tallest building prior to the Beekman Tower was only about 40 stories. Eliot has a slideshow of the ceremony, which was the first time Mr. Gehry has been seen in public with Bruce Ratner since Mr. Ratner scrapped his plans for Atlantic Yards.

While Mr. Gehry seemd to have a good time, the day was probably less enjoyable for Bruce Ratner, who now has another Atlantic Yards lawsuit to litigate.

Posted by steve at 5:44 AM

November 19, 2009

Frank Gehry's 76-Story Dick Joke Tops Off


You missed Frank F’n Gehry this morning at the Beekman Tower topping off ceremony. The most classic one liner ever.

Bruce Ratner is giving his speech praising unions. Blah blah blah. Then he calls up the "great" Gehry to say a few words...

Frank gets up to the mic and pauses...

He looks up to the sky and the 76-story building for about 3 seconds...

Looks at everyone and says...



NoLandGrab: We suppose this passes for humor in Ratnerland.

Posted by eric at 11:00 PM

November 6, 2009

Forest City goes one for two with Gehry

The Real Deal
by C.J. Hughes

For the megadeveloper Forest City Ratner Companies, the last few months can be seen as a tale of two projects.

The worst of times seems to have taken hold at Atlantic Yards, the proposed 22-acre development of apartments, offices and a basketball arena in Brooklyn. In June, Forest City dumped architect Frank Gehry, whose eye-catching designs helped generate much of the project's initial excitement.

And last month, the Empire State Development Corporation, the state authority backing the project, had to face the state's Court of Appeals in a case about the legality of its eminent-domain actions after being sued by a community group.

But in Manhattan, after a rocky start, it seems to be the best of times -- or at least somewhat more favorable ones, for Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street in the Financial District.

The 76-story rental tower will be the tallest residential building in New York. Unlike at Atlantic Yards, Gehry's design (his first residential project in New York) is getting built, despite its stumbles.


Posted by eric at 11:30 AM

October 8, 2009

Out in the open

NY Post
By Max Gross and Jennifer Ceaser

Architecture junkies have had a very lean year.

Many of the city’s starchitecture projects have been shelved, like Ben van Berkel’s Five Franklin Place and the Frank Gehry design of Atlantic Yards.

But we have good news for those in search of a fix. This weekend Open House New York (OHNY) is throwing open the doors to some of the city’s most interesting spots, both old and new.


Posted by lumi at 5:40 AM

September 24, 2009

Too Much of a Good Thing

Frank Gehry isn't going to design Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development, and that's OK.

by Witold Rybczynski

The writer/architect is not so sorry that Frank Gehry lost his Atlantic Yards exclusive.

It is a shame that Gehry wasn't given a chance to build his transparent, landscape-topped arena, but it is hard not to cheer the fact that the rest of his plan for the Atlantic Yards has also been abandoned. The 22-acre site was to contain 16 mostly residential towers, some more than 500 feet high, all designed by Gehry. Some architecture critics have praised the project as a "single cohesive scheme," but cohesion is precisely the problem. As Jane Jacobs taught, one of the preconditions for urban vitality is heterogeneity—in the uses, ages, and yes, designs of buildings. Surely we've learned by now that having large chunks of the city designed by one architect, no matter how talented, is not a good idea.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Slate critic, disremembering Lethem, says it's fine that Gehry's gone

Posted by eric at 8:44 PM

September 16, 2009

Frank Gehry, Writ Smaller

It’s been a tough year for the world’s most famous architect.

by Karrie Jacobs

But then, in late 2003, came the announcement of Atlantic Yards, a grand urban-renewal scheme to be erected mainly on a deck over the rail yards dividing two low-rise Brooklyn neighborhoods. It seemed that Gehry, for all his greatness, had become a pawn in a real estate scheme, a device to sugarcoat an otherwise unpalatable development. And that was the moment for me when the idea of Gehry the architectural hero, the transformational genius, evaporated. He had become another big hungry ego in a world of big hungry egos.

But why? Why would someone as socially and politically adroit as Gehry squander his cultural cachet on a boondoggle? Why would he undermine his brand—the one he’d spent a lifetime cultivating—for a developer like Bruce Ratner? Or as Jonathan Lethem framed it in a 2006 letter to the architect, published on Slate.com, “I’ve been struggling to understand how someone of your sensibilities can have drifted into such an unfortunate alliance.”

True, I was horrified by the scale of the Atlantic Yards project, the 16 Gehry-designed residential and office towers, but the saddest thing was that the development’s raison d’être, the bait in its bait and switch—the basketball arena—was mishandled. The site of the arena was to be roughly the spot where the Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley wanted to build a Buckminster Fuller–designed domed stadium. Robert Moses had put the kibosh on that plan long ago. So there was a touch of poetic justice in setting a Gehry arena there. But the proposed arena, instead of being a freestanding sculptural object like the Vitra museum, Bilbao, or Disney Hall, was a feverish agglomeration hemmed in by huge towers. Like his less successful works (MIT’s Stata Center and Seattle’s Experience Music Project), the Atlantic Yards’ would-be centerpiece nudged the Gehry aesthetic toward caricature.

In June of this year, Gehry either came to his senses, quit, or was fired from the now troubled project.


Posted by eric at 1:28 PM

September 3, 2009

Review and Comment
London and Brooklyn

Brooklyn Daily Eagle
by Henrik Krogius

The Eagle's Krogius ventures across the pond, and appraises the architecture.

[Lord Norman] Foster’s signal contribution to the London skyline is the glass-and-steel Swiss Re building, popularly called the “gherkin” or pickle, but which The London Encyclopedia says looks more like “a fat rocket” on its launching pad. It, at least, looks interesting, but too much of London’s scattered modern building is simply banal, and where it is getting older, it tends to be dirt-streaked and aging badly.

The situation is not unfamiliar to us in Brooklyn, though we don’t have anything as extreme as some of Foster’s work. Of course, if Frank Gehry should be brought back to build Atlantic Yards, we’d have something to talk about.


NoLandGrab: At this point, there's a better chance of the Gherkin lifting off like "a fat rocket" than there is of Frank Gehry designing any Atlantic Yards buildings.

Posted by eric at 9:56 PM

August 26, 2009

Frankly Gehry

Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Lawsuit Dismissed vs. Former Yards Architect

A dismissed lawsuit against architect Frank Gehry, concerning his jewelry design work, segues into an update on Atlantic Yards. [No joke.]

The NY Observer, From Bash to Bash to Overhead Smash: U.S. Open Party Itinerary

After dismissal from Atlantic Yards, does Frank Gehry have too much time on his hands?

As we were going to press Tuesday night, Maria Sharapova was expected to be lifting a glass to Frank Gehry at the Cooper Square Hotel. Both have contracts at Tiffany & Co—Mr. Gehry to design jewelry, and Ms. Sharapova to look pretty wearing that jewelry. We’re not precisely sure what they’ll talk about, but since Mr. Gehry backed out of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project and Ms. Sharapova hasn’t been doing much of anything on a tennis court recently, we’re sure those two have had time to think up some stuff!

Posted by lumi at 5:16 AM

July 27, 2009

Frank Gehry’s ‘flaky’ marriage of inspiration and innovation

The Buffalo News
By Jack Quinan

A review of Barbara Isenberg's “Conversations With Frank Gehry” positions architect Frank Gehry at the apex of his career: "he recently used his city planning background in such vast multibuilding projects as the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and the Grand Avenue project for downtown Los Angeles."

Since publication of the book, Grand Avenue has been stalled due to financing difficulties and the starchitect has been removed from the Atlantic Yards project.


Posted by lumi at 5:38 AM

July 22, 2009

More from Gehry at Aspen: On meeting budgets, taking more responsibility, and engaging the client

Atlantic Yards Report

Beyond Frank Gehry's dust-up with Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces , some other passages in Gehry's Aspen Ideas Festival interview earlier this month have resonance for Atlantic Yards watchers, notably the architect's insistence, as he has said before, that he works "close to the bone."

In other words, I think it buttresses my argument that dropping Gehry from the Atlantic Yards project was not simply because the cost of the arena had risen significantly. Rather, it would be impossible to design an arena wrapped within four towers if developer Forest City Ratner could stretch its original four-year timetable for the towers to 12 years; only after that would a penalty kick in (and the developer could get away with building only three towers).


Posted by lumi at 5:56 AM

July 15, 2009

Gehry vs. Kent, the "lame excuses" to Fallows, and the unmentioned example of Gehry and Atlantic Yards

Atlantic Yards Report

When two characters from the Atlantic Yards drama meet up in Aspen, a starchitect takes things a little too far:

In the past ten days or so, the outline of a curious episode involving Frank Gehry at the Aspen Ideas Festival has emerged in the blogosphere, but now that the video has surfaced, we can all judge for ourselves.

My summary: Gehry was obnoxiously imperial in dismissing some legitimate questions by Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces (PPS); Gehry should know Kent by reputation but apparently does not; Kent did ask a legitimate but longwinded question and was not “pompous” as Gehry dismissed him; and, yes, Gehry is quite thin-skinned, as we’ve learned from his role in the Atlantic Yards saga.


NoLandGrab: Like Norman Oder, we're shocked, shocked(!), that Frank Gehry was busted for being an obnoxious egomaniac. Atlantic Yards watchdogs and critics have been on the receiving end of Gehry's ignoranting more than once.

Posted by lumi at 5:04 AM

July 4, 2009

In New York magazine, some (partly) misplaced regret for the lost Gehry design

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder critiques a New York Magazine article The Unbuilding of Frank Gehry: Has New York lost its great chance with an architectural legend? Gehry speaks.

Longtime critics of Atlantic Yards know that the removal of architect Frank Gehry is part of a pattern of not-so-trustworthy behavior by developer Forest City Ratner (whose reps swore for months that Gehry was still the architect), but New York magazine architecture critic Justin Davidson, like some other architecture aficionados, treats it as the ultimate betrayal.

The idea that Atlantic Yards would have been Gehry's opportunity to create a new "urban archetype is disputed:

But for Gehry, Atlantic Yards represented an irresistible chance to do for an urban district what he had done for the museum and the concert hall: establish a new archetype.

I think Davidson grants Gehry a little too much credit here. The architect was spending most of his time on the arena, his first, and came up with the (much-praised by some) solution--given the enormous site constraints--of nestling the arena within four towers.

Gehry did not exactly walk around Prospect Heights--or talk to locals--to try to suss out a new urban archetype.

The New York Magazine article says that an opportunity for great architecture was missed when developer Bruce Ratner announced officially what many had know for a while: Frank Gehry was no longer on the proposed Atlantic Yards project. Oder has a different perspective on the timeline.

A few weeks after that conversation, Ratner scrapped six years’ worth of design work. Pleading financial straits, he fired Gehry from the whole project and replaced his arena design with a graceless Cow Palace knockoff by the journeyman stadium-builder Ellerbe Becket. To judge by early renderings, the new offering isn’t simply inferior; it’s insultingly bad. Yet Gehry has served Ratner well. His involvement helped strong-arm the city and the state into delivering tax breaks, permits, and the power to evict holdouts. It helped beat back opposition, secure $400 million in naming rights from Barclays, and win over the architectural press. Ratner didn’t just toss Gehry into the drink; he betrayed the city, blighted a neighborhood he promised to transform, validated his opponents, and blew a colossal opportunity to bring great architecture to a city that badly needs it.

Oh, come now. Wasn't the whole thing blown in September 2007 with the State Funding Agreement, which allowed Ratner six years (after the delivery of property by eminent domain) to build the arena without penalty, 12 years for Phase 1, and no timetable for Phase 2?

That agreement, which came to light in March 2008, meant that building four towers around the arena within a tight time frame was unlikely, and thus Gehry's design was unlikely. It also meant that blight--in the form of surface parking lots and/or cleared land--was likely to persist for decades.

Also noticed is the apparent lack of regret by Gehry in laying off half of his staff. This seems consistent with other difficult decisions from the past as noted in the film "Sketches of Frank Gehry".

In the film, Milton Wexler, Gehry’s longtime therapist, recounts how Gehry was in limbo with his wife, and advised him to make up his mind, to either commit to work it out or to leave immediately. Gehry instantly moved to a hotel. “I had two daughters and a wife,” he says with a mildly incredulous laugh, but without remorse.


Posted by steve at 6:48 AM

June 30, 2009

Gehry Trims Staff As Projects Hit Snags

Architectural Record

Frank Gehry has trimmed his staff to "112 employees, down from 250 a year and a half ago," primarily because he is no longer working on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards megaproject and "construction of the $3 billion Grand Avenue complex in downtown L.A. has been delayed until 2012."

But his other Ratner project, the Beekman Tower, is still on, and it is now being reported that the "building will rise 76 stories as originally designed."


Posted by lumi at 5:25 AM

June 22, 2009

The Unbuilding of Frank Gehry

Has New York lost its great chance with an architectural legend? Gehry speaks.

New York Magazine
by Justin Davidson

NY Mag's architecture critic laments the woulda/coulda/shoulda of Frank Gehry and Atlantic Yards, laying the blame at the feet of one Bruce C. Ratner.

By far the worst disappointment is Atlantic Yards. For years, opponents of the project, appalled by its scale and hostile to the developer Bruce Ratner, warned that Gehry was providing a fig leaf of avant-gardism to cover a real-estate magnate’s obscene greed. A project so debased couldn’t generate good architecture, they insisted. In 2007, the author Jonathan Lethem wrote an open letter pleading with Gehry to walk away. “These buildings,” he wrote, “have emerged pre-botched by compromise, swollen with expediency and profit-seeking.”

But for Gehry, Atlantic Yards represented an irresistible chance to do for an urban district what he had done for the museum and the concert hall: establish a new archetype. In his desire to believe, he made the mistake of trusting Bruce Ratner, or at any rate got himself so enmeshed that the developer’s company, Forest City Ratner, once represented 35 percent of Gehry’s business. When I visited the architect at his Los Angeles studio in April, he described Ratner as “a decent guy. He goes to concerts, buys art, can quote from Joyce. He wants an architectural legacy.” Gehry insisted to me that he has a nose for cynics, and that Ratner wasn’t one. “We turn work down if it’s not real, or if people have a warped image of what I do. This stuff works only when there’s a true partnership between client and architect. If they’re trying to build a monster on the landscape and they’re just using me to get more approvals, I usually opt out.”

A few weeks after that conversation, Ratner scrapped six years’ worth of design work. Pleading financial straits, he fired Gehry from the whole project and replaced his arena design with a graceless Cow Palace knockoff by the journeyman stadium-builder Ellerbe Becket. To judge by early renderings, the new offering isn’t simply inferior; it’s insultingly bad. Yet Gehry has served Ratner well. His involvement helped strong-arm the city and the state into delivering tax breaks, permits, and the power to evict holdouts. It helped beat back opposition, secure $400 million in naming rights from Barclays, and win over the architectural press. Ratner didn’t just toss Gehry into the drink; he betrayed the city, blighted a neighborhood he promised to transform, validated his opponents, and blew a colossal opportunity to bring great architecture to a city that badly needs it.


Posted by eric at 12:27 PM

June 18, 2009

Atlantic Yards Watch

Brooklyn Downtown Star
By Sean Elder

Bruce Ratner has finally made it official: Frank Gehry is out as designer of the ill-fated Atlantic Yards Project.
"At this point the Atlantic Yards plan has nothing to do with the project New Yorkers were promised," the Times concluded. Gehry was always just the shiny bauble, or maker of shiny baubles, that hypnotized some well-meaning citizens.
I was at a benefit for the Brooklyn Museum not long ago, seated between a couple of well-heeled museum supporters - both from the Upper East Side - when one of them mentioned how much she loved Jhumpa Lahiri's last book. I mentioned that Lahiri had done a reading at my house to benefit Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. An awkward silence followed. "We're all for not destroying Brooklyn," one of them finally said, "but we also care about The Future."

For her The Future meant a big behemoth, representing progress, the kind that cultural missionaries have always brought to ungrateful primitives like us.


Posted by lumi at 6:38 AM

Norman Foster Loses Russia Tower Project


Norman Foster joins Frank Gehry on the recently fired starchitect roster.

With Richard Rogers losing a major project thanks Prince Charles' interference, Frank Gehry finally getting an axe on Atlantic Yards, and the list going on and on for buildings that never shall be, it's been a tough couple of months to be a starchitect lately.


Posted by lumi at 5:45 AM

June 15, 2009

Frank Gehry, recession victim?

Crane Country

Industry publications and blogs are still buzzing about Frank Gehry's removal from the Atlantic Yards project:

It's official: Frank Gehry, the starchitect behind Abu Dhabi's coming Guggenheim, will no longer be designing any of the buildings in Brooklyn, New York's Atlantic Yards project that he has been working on for the past six years. Why? Because his designs cost too much. That's the line from Bruce Rattner (sic), the developer on the 22-acre project, as reported in the New York Times.


NoLandGrab: Ratner knew all along that he was paying a premium for starchitecture, so the cost excuse is pretty flimsy.

Posted by lumi at 6:19 AM

June 13, 2009

Architect Frank Gehry stripped of lead role in New York project

By Ed Pilkington

The American dollars in this article are translated to British pounds, but this story has, otherwise, become a familiar one.

New York's hard-headed commercial approach to urban development has delivered a blow to the celebrity architect Frank Gehry by stripping him of his lead role in a multi-billion dollar project in Brooklyn.


At the centre of his plan would have been a $1bn arena with seating for 20,000 fans of the Nets basketball team which is currently squatting in New Jersey. The arena bore many of the hallmarks of Gehry's unique style, it would have been surrounded by tumbling towers, though in this case built in glass.

In its place, Ratner has placed a new design by a conventional mid-western firm of architects, Ellerbe Becket. Their design would cost $200m less than Gehry's but would have none of the star quality or inventiveness of its predecessor.

The switch in designs has invoked a furious response. The influential architecture critic of the New York Times, Nicolai Ouroussoff, savaged the move as a "shameful betrayal of the public trust that gave New Yorkers the message that good architecture was an expendable luxury".

He described the Ellerbe Becket design as a monstrosity, "a colossal, spiritless box" that would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than in a vibrant city. "The arena is as glamorous as a storage warehouse," was his conclusion.


Posted by steve at 8:52 AM

Gehry too costly for major New York development

International Construction Review (iCON)

Famous architect Frank Gehry will now not be designing any of the 17 buildings planned for the US$4 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn.

Gehry has laboured for the past six years on the 22-acre project in the borough of New York City but he has been judged too expensive to hire for the individual buildings. Gehry’s original masterplan for the overall development remains in place and he has already earned millions of dollars from the project.

Last week, the developer, Bruce C. Ratner, owner of Forest City Ratner of Cleveland, Ohio, cited the “economic climate” as the reason to switch architects for the project’s lynchpin, a basketball arena for the Nets at the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues. The Barclays Center basketball arena will now be designed by the architectural firm Ellerbe Becket for about $800 million, $200 million less than Gehry’s design.

Nor will Gehry be the architect for any of the other high-rise residential developments, or other commercial buildings. Again, cost is the issue, the developer told the New York Times on Wednesday, June 10.

Mr. Ratner, who has been plagued by lawsuits and a flagging economy, has already delayed the office building and most, if not all, of 6,000 planned apartments - 40 per cent of which were set aside for low-, moderate- and middle-income families. He is racing to start building the arena by the end of the year to qualify for tax-exempt financing.


Critics say Gehry’s departure contributes to a sense that Ratner is stripping away the things that garnered support for his ambitious project — world-class architecture, affordable housing and an unusual arena that fit into an urban landscape.


Posted by steve at 8:35 AM

June 11, 2009

More farewells to Frank

We have to admit, even we're starting to tire of this storyline.

Crain's NY Business, Gehry off the case in Brooklyn

The company plans to use a number of architects to design individual buildings, according to the statement, which noted that Mr. Gehry remained the master planner.

NoLandGrab: It's quite funny that Gehry's only remaining role is that of "Master Planner," something his entire career demonstrates he is clearly not.

The Business of Sports (SunSentinel.com), Arena design: economics v. art

But those that chose to be different have successfully built sports venues that represent their communities, ones for which fans can immediately identify their place. Think PNC Park overlooking the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh; the old brick warehouse that’s part of Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore; and, even American Airlines Arena, overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Isn’t making progress correcting bad decisions of the past? Do we want to regret a decision that was made based on economics? Miami Arena, anyone? The pink elephant was obsolete when it opened in 1988, lost its tenants and was demolished last year.

“Unfortunately the world we live in today is very different than what it was three or four years ago when we hired Frank," Nets chief executive Brett Yormark said Wednesday according to the piece. "The world is more simplistic. It's not as grand and glitzy. And I'm not sure that design would have been appropriate right now, as much as we all loved it. I think the design that we have now is very appropriate. It speaks to Brooklyn."

I’m not so sure.

Posted by eric at 6:19 PM

Gehry Is Out as Designer of Project in Brooklyn

The NY Times
By Charles V. Bagli

Two days ago, WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman had an off-the-record scoop that architect Frank Gehry was off the Atlantic Yards project. Today, the Times finally nailed down the story, resulting in an on-the-record admission from a Forest City Ratner PR flack.

Atlantic Yards is really through with Frank Gehry.

An award-winning architect, Mr. Gehry will not be designing any of the 17 buildings planned for the 22-acre development in Brooklyn on which he has labored for the past six years, a spokesman for the architect confirmed Wednesday.
“We do not anticipate that Mr. Gehry will be designing any of the individual buildings,” Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Mr. Ratner, said Wednesday.

He conceded that the announcement issued last week “should’ve been clearer.” But, he added, Mr. Gehry’s master plan for the development and his guidelines remain in place.


NoLandGrab: The lede could just have easily read, "Frank Gehry is really through with Atlantic Yards," which would make Gehry the lucky one.

Come on, SURRENDER BRUCE and put Brooklyn out of your misery.

Atlantic Yards Report, Gehry's gone from AY completely, so how do the design specifications remain in place?

Norman Oder examines PR flack Joe DePlasco's claim that "all of the design specifications that [Frank Gehry] developed, and which were approved, remain in place."

Maybe those specs remain in place, but that doesn't mean they're realistic.

There's no Urban Room if there's no Building 1, so this excerpt from the Design Guidelines attached to the Modified General Project Plan seems rather quaint:

ii. The Urban Room shall include a café or other eating and drinking establishment and shall incorporate an entrance to the Atlantic Yards transit hub as well as provide entrances to Building 1 (other than entrances to residential uses) and the Arena...

Gehry, suggested TIME critic Richard Lacayo, had gone from master planner to master fig leaf. How exactly the design specifications he developed might persist should be an ongoing question.

NoLandGrab: Or DePlasco could be ducking the truth, which, these days, is pretty much his job.

Posted by lumi at 6:11 AM

June 10, 2009

Gehry Departure Confirmed

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill]
by Andy Newman

This afternoon, Forest City Ratner confirmed WNYC reporter Matthew Schuerman’s report. FCR spokesman Joe DePlasco said in an email:

“Frank Gehry was and remains the master planner for the arena and larger project and all of the design specifications that he developed, and which were approved, remain in place. Obviously the world has changed significantly since the project was proposed and we are making every effort to adapt to these changes while meeting the high standards that we set for project. Going forward we anticipate that we will use a number of architects, well known and new, to design the individual buildings as part of Frank’s larger plan. Update | 3:16 p.m. We do not anticipate that Mr. Gehry will be designing any of the individual buildings.”


NoLandGrab: Though Gehry has surely been paid handsomely for the cover he's provided the Atlantic Yards project these past five-and-a-half years, here's betting he rues the day he first met Bruce Ratner.

Posted by eric at 4:49 PM

Much (more) adieu about nothing

Comment on the parting of Frank Gehry and Atlantic Yards continues to roll in, along with appraisals of the Conseco Fieldhouse, er, new Barclays Center (or is it Centre?).

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, The Day: Is Gehry a Goner?

WNYC reported last night that Frank Gehry is not only out as the architect for the arena at Atlantic Yards, he has been dumped by Forest City Ratner as the master architect for the entire $4 billion project. relieved by Forest City Ratner of any future duty on the $4 billion project, for which he served as master architect. Mr. Gehry was supposed to design all of the individual buildings on the 22-acre site.

Forest City Ratner officials did not answer questions about Mr. Gehry’s status last night.

Looking Around [Time Magazine blog], More on the Gehry Departure

From the start the Atlantic Yards faced heavy opposition from Brooklynites who said it was too big, too dense, too tall — too much of everything for the still mostly low-rise borough. All the while, Gehry's name — and his gifts as an architect, the imagination he brought to the project — did a lot to keep it moving forward. But there have already been any number of revisions to Gehry's design, not only for the arena, but for other buildings in Atlantic Yards, and it's less and less clear what role if any he will end up playing in the final product — except maybe just to lend the prestige of his name to a grossly adulterated outcome. Master planner? Master fig leaf might be a better word for it.

UnBeige, Atlantic Yards' Gehry Dumping Leads to Kansas City vs. New York Brawl

Following the big-yet-not surprising story that Frank Gehry is now officially off the Atlantic Yards/New Jersey Nets stadium project, we have two newspapers with very differing pieces about the matter.

BD Online, Developer ditches Gehry basketball arena for New York Atlantic Yards

Gehry’s arena, known as the Barclays Centre, is the centrepiece of the Atlantic Yards scheme being developed by Forest City Ratner at an estimated cost of $950 million.

Gehry has confirmed that he will continue to work with Forest City Ratner on another New York project, the Beekman Tower, with a spokesman describing the relationship between the architect and the developer as “amicable”.

Sports Business Daily, Impact Of Gehry's Departure From Atlantic Yards Project Debated [subscription required]

Curbed, Robert Scarano Mad Nobody Wants to Hire Robert Scarano

Scarano loves thee not: Atlantic Yards in general

Brownstoner, More Renderings of New Arena Design

I Cover The Automat, “HELLO, CLEVELAND!”

So, young Nicolai has weighed in with his opinion on the Atlantic Yards bait-and-switch. While I might not share in his enthusiasm for our neighbor from the North, I do continue to marvel over the cut rate Metroteching that Forest City Ratner’s pushing for. Couple that with the complete failure of the BAM LDC/cultural district, the rise of the Oro, Toren and the newly named Brooklyner, not to mention the fact that Gage & Tollner is going to become an Arby’s, and all one can do is fret.

Posted by eric at 12:51 PM

June 9, 2009

Frank Gehry Out of Rest of Yards Too

WNYC Radio

More bait-and-and switch from the folks who brought you the Conseco Fieldhouse, um, new Barclays Center.

Just two years ago, developer Forest City Ratner was insisting Gehry would design each and every one of the 16 towers that surrounded the arena. Gehry had dubbed one of them Miss Brooklyn. But two sources close to the project say now the developer is not planning to use Gehry any more, citing costs, the architect's lack of interest and the complications of meshing different architectural styles in a small space. A spokesman for Forest City Ratner said Gehry is still "involved" in the project but did not answer specific questions. The developer says it plans to break ground on the arena this fall, and the first residential building six months later.


NoLandGrab: Gehry is still "'involved' in the project" to the extent that Forest City Ratner (not even trying) and Barclays (giving it the old college try) have failed to scrub his presence from AtlanticYards.com and BarclaysCenter.com, respectively (yo, guys, there's a text-only version of BarclaysCenter.com — don't forget to purge that of Gehry mentions, too).

Posted by eric at 4:57 PM

Turning a blind eye in exchange for big-budget architecture

The Cornell Daily Sun
by Ann Lui

Frank Gehry gets knocked for being a slavery enabler, and it's got nothing to do with Barclays' slave-running past. But Atlantic Yards does score a mention.

A couple weeks ago, the Human Rights Watch released an 80 page report documenting the varied human rights violations that are the foundation for construction in Dubai and its sister city Abu Dhabi.

But some starchitects aren't exactly taking a stand.

Christopher Sell, also for the Architect’s Journal reported that, “A source close to the Saadiyat Island project said: ‘Neither Gehry nor Hadid have shown concern for the issues. It is quite surprising if they didn’t know what is going on in Abu Dhabi.’”

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are opportunities to take a stand – to say: slavery and injustice are not the foundations on which our visions for the future are built. The monumental pyramids in neighboring Egypt are too easy of a comparison to make. Times are tough, the economy sucks, I know, I know. It’s hard to get commissions in the States – Gehry’s stadium at the Atlantic Yards was just abandoned for generic suburban architecture; it’s understandable what his project in the UAE means to the firm. Nonetheless, the economy should not be an excuse for sanctioning evil.


Posted by eric at 4:17 PM

Battle Between Budget and Beauty, Which Budget Won

The NY Times
By Nicolai Ouroussoff

Calling it "a shameful betrayal of the public trust"," The Time's architecture critic blasts Bruce Ratner's arena bait and switch.


Whatever you may have felt about Mr. Gehry’s design — too big, too flamboyant — there is little doubt that it was thoughtful architecture. His arena complex, in which the stadium was embedded in a matrix of towers resembling falling shards of glass, was a striking addition to the Brooklyn skyline; it was also a fervent effort to engage the life of the city below.

A new design by the firm Ellerbe Becket has no such ambitions. A colossal, spiritless box, it would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than at one of the busiest intersections of a vibrant metropolis. Its low-budget, no-frills design embodies the crass, bottom-line mentality that puts personal profit above the public good. If it is ever built, it will create a black hole in the heart of a vital neighborhood.

Ouroussoff later adds:

A massive vaulted shed that rests on a masonry base, the arena is as glamorous as a storage warehouse.
Building this monstrosity at such a critical urban intersection would be deadly. Clearly, the city would be better off with nothing.

Refreshingly, instead of taking the simple-minded tack of blaming project opponents, Ouroussoff acknowledges one of the early criticisms of the arena:

I suppose we should have seen this coming. The scale and location of the project posed serious challenges — challenges that could not be solved by the conventional development formulas. Arenas are notorious black holes in urban neighborhoods, sitting empty most of the year and draining the life around them. And in this case, the arena would dominate a major intersection and anchor a dense 22-acre residential development several blocks to the east.

The Times also published a closer preview of the arena design (above) than the rendering released late last week.


Atlantic Yards Report, NYT critic Ouroussoff wakes up, calls new arena design a "stunning bait-and-switch" and a "shameful betrayal of the public trust"

Norman Oder chronicles Ouroussoff's conversion:

OK, in July 2005 New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff enthused that Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards plan "may be the most important urban development plan proposed in New York City in decades." (I thought he missed a few things.)

In June 2006, he wrote a more pensive if hardly tough assessment of the project,

In March 2008, he wrote something of an elegy, urging Gehry to leave the project, predicting blight (accurately, it terms out), and even seeming to emerge as a project opponent.

Today, however, he pulls out the big rhetorical guns, calling Forest City Ratner's decision to trade Gehry's arena for a more pedestrian design by Ellerbe Becket a "stunning bait-and-switch" and a "shameful betrayal of the public trust."

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

June 8, 2009

Two reasons Ratner's arena switch is fishy: construction costs down and Gehry design impossible; are other costs being off-loaded?

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner tries to lay blame for the decision to ditch Frank Gehry's design for a second-class arena on "construction costs," even though, by all accounts, construction costs have fallen dramatically. The project's red herring is smelling fishy:

Forest City Ratner, in its announcement that the Frank Gehry arena design has been traded for a more pedestrian design by Ellerbe Becket, claimed that "rising construction costs impacted the budgets of all developers," and the press and public officials have uncritically repeated that.

Ratner would be saving only about 20%--$200 million on an arena reported at $1 billion or $950 million--so that's fishy, since lowered construction costs should already have taken care of much of that gap.

Atlantic Yards watchdog Norman Oder explains that Ratner is currently unable or unwilling to construct the highrises and atrium that were to surround the Frank Gehry arena, which is technically impossible to build as a stand-alone arena. Therefore the decision to go with an off-the-shelf second-class arena design probably had more to do with the inflexibility of Gehry's initial masterplan.

However, when Oder estimates the costs of the new watered-down arena design, he finds that there's still some slack:

Is Forest City Ratner attaching indirect project costs to the arena price tag, thus having them paid for via tax-exempt bonds, which are a cheaper way to raise money?

We need some specifics about the costs of the arena. The ESDC, which is supposed to oversee the project, should explain.


Posted by lumi at 6:41 AM

No hint of Phase 2, Site 5, or future Gehry role; also, has promised open space been cut from eight acres to six?

Atlantic Yards Report

Parsing through last week's press release, Norman Oder keeps track as Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner keeps backtracking:


Posted by lumi at 6:17 AM

It's Official (and Surprising to No One): Frank Gehry is Off Atlantic Yards


Remember the very long, drawn out process over the last few months where the only people who still believed Frank Gehry getting kicked off the Atlantic Yards project was mere rumor were those working PR for Bruce Ratner (the project's developer)?


NoLandGrab: Which makes us wonder why members of the press still take the Ratner PR flacks seriously.

Posted by lumi at 4:36 AM

June 7, 2009

Gehry: Going, going, going... gone (Part Quatre)

Gothamist, Bloomberg, Markowitz Support New Brooklyn Nets Arena Design

Now that Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has kicked renowned architect Frank Gehry's design for the (potential) future home of the Brooklyn Nets aside for a less expensive design by way of Kansas firm Ellerbe Becket, it's time for politicians to weigh in. Mayor Bloomberg said he understood the economic realities that Ratner was facing; the Post reports that he said on his radio show, "I think Ratner came to the conclusion, in this day and age, you just cannot finance something as complex to build. There's no such thing as a straight wall with Frank. Frank is into curves."

Gehry's design would have cost $1 billion, while the Ellerbe Becket design could be around $200 million less. Bloomberg did pump Gehry up, also saying, "Frank Gehry, who is a genius, designed a spectacular [arena]." The Post also notices that Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz seems to have backtracked on his statement that the Gehry design is "world class"—now the Beep says Gehry's design is "too ultra-modern...I think the new design is actually better for Brooklyn."

And the Post's Steve Cuozzo laments the end of the Gehry design, "SO sad. So irreversible. And so inevitable... The new arena design now on the table bears as much resemblance to Gehry's as a Dumpster does to his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao." He lays blame (credit?) for the Gehry structure's demise on the "Orwellian-titled" Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn for stalling Ratner's Atlantic Yards development for the past four years. DDDB writes, "While Cuozzo is correct that dumping Gehry could be devastating for the Atlantic Yards project (though his hyperbole that the project is dead is Orwellian), his Orwellian doublethink, newspeak makes milk come out of our noses, full speed. "

Tao of FAU, Downtown Brooklyn is saved

Just a reminder: Prospect Heights, the site of the proposed Atlantic Yards, is not in downtown Brooklyn.

In 2003, when I lived in Park Slope, I loved the idea of a basketball team in Brooklyn, especially one right next to the spot where the Dodgers would have moved had Robert Moses not blocked their stadium. But, like many, I was not happy with the details: the high towers, the arena by Ghery, etc.

Full disclosure: I love architecture. I am fascinated by it. I like all types and styles of architecture from classical to modern to postmodern. I also HATE Frank Ghery. I think he is a hack who took one idea (lots of reflective metal) and stretched it out for far too long.

So I welcome this move and the fact that the recession may cause the whole project to get scaled down. Brooklyn needs development, but not the kind that will radically interrupt it's character.

Archsource, Ghery Officially Off Barclay Center Designs

The Barclay Center, which is to be the Nets new basketball arena had originally intended to be the main focal point and anchor of Frank Ghery's sprawling 22-acre Atlantic Yards complex located in central Brooklyn. Now it seems that though Ghery will be master planner for the site, the "starchitects" firm had been replaced by Ellerbe Becket as designer of the arena itself.

One reason that seems very likely is that Ghery's proposal as usual would end up being way to pricey and indeed Forest City Ratner, the developers said in the statement. “The current economic climate is not right for this design, and with Frank’s understanding, the arena is undergoing a redesign that will make it more limited in scope.” So what happened to his magic "Digital Project" software? According to the Times, the arena is now expected to cost $800 million, down from a projected $1 billion.

Posted by steve at 6:58 AM

June 6, 2009

Gehry: Going, going, going... gone (Part Trois)

Here are yet more takes on the starchitect Frank Gehry's exit from the proposed Atlantic Yards project.

Artinfo, Gehry Arena Design for Atlantic Yards Project Dropped

A Frank Gehry–designed, $1 billion glass-walled basketball arena for the Nets is now out of play at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards project. The project’s developer, Bruce Ratner, has scrapped Gehry’s proposal primarily for economic reasons in favor of a less expensive design from architectural firm Ellerbe Becket.

Still, Gehry, the award-winning architect behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, remains the master planner for the 22-acre, $4 billion development. The arena is the centerpiece of Atlantic Yards, which has had to deal with a host of obstacles, including lawsuits and a collapsing real estate market. Ratner is trying to cut costs and start construction of the 20,000-seat arena by the end of the year. He’s also had to delay a proposed office tower and plans to build 6,400 apartments, some reserved for low- to middle-income families. The new arena design will cost about $200 million less than Gehry’s now-scuttled proposal.

AP (Via The Globe and Mail), Developer replaces Gehry as architect of arena

The owner of the New Jersey Nets has replaced the Canadian-born architect of a pricey planned arena in Brooklyn. The $1-billion Frank Gehry-designed arena was a centrepiece of the $4-billion (U.S.) Atlantic Yards development of office towers and apartments, but has been scrapped for a cheaper design.

UPI, Gehry off New York arena project

Famed architect Frank Gehry announced he is no longer involved with the planned Atlantic Yards basketball arena in New York.

A spokesman for Gehry, who had created a futuristic metallic design for the proposed NBA arena, said the split between the architect and developer Forest City Ratner was amicable and Gehry will still be working with the company on the Beekman Tower project in New York, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

Gotham Gazette, After Gehry

So what effect will Bruce Ratner’s decision to drop Frank Gehry’s much-touted design for the basketball arena mean to the future of Atlantic Yards? For one thing, the massive complex when — or more accurately if — built will have little resemblance to the glossy original plans.

The switch to a more conventional arena designed by Ellerbe Becket could save $200 million, a key consideration at a time when money for real estate projects is tight. And, the Times reported, Ratner has to act quickly. He has to start building the home for the Nets by the end of the year, according to Charles Bagli’s article, or face losing his right to use tax-exempt financing.


Such a change could reinvigorate opposition to the entire project. “The current Atlantic Yards plan bears increasingly less resemblance to the project that was approved in 2006,” said Vin Cipolla, the president of the Municipal Art Society, told Bagli. “The replacement of Gehry further reduces the public benefits of the project, which urgently needs re-evaluation and oversight.”

Engineering News-Record, Ellerbe Becket Replaces Gehry As Architect for Brooklyn Arena

Architect Ellerbe Becket, Kansas City, has been retained by Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, of Forest City Ratner Cos., to come up with a new design for the long-delayed and controversial Atlantic Yards basketball and entertainment arena in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Ellerbe Becket replaces Gehry Partners. Other key designers, New York City-based structural engineer Thornton-Tomasetti, and mechanical-electrical-plumbing engineer, WSP Flack + Kurtz, will remain on the project.

New York Press, Frank Gehry's Nets Arena Design is Dropped

The New York Times is reporting that the recession has trimmed back the development of Atlantic Yards in a major way. Developers have scrapped Frank Gehry’s $1 billion design for the new Nets Stadium in favor of a $200 million cheaper design from the Kansas City based architecture firm Ellerbe Beckett. The developer of Atlantic Yards, and chief executive of Forest City, Bruce C. Ratner saying, “the current economic climate is not right for this design,” continuing, “and with Frank’s understanding, the arena is undergoing a redesign that will make it more limited in scope."

In his article, Charles Bagli sums up some of the major problems the project is facing, “the developer is under pressure to get government approval for changes to the development’s master plan and to start the arena by December, before he loses the ability to use tax-exempt bonds. Ratner must also hold together a group of corporate advertisers at a time when companies are trying to shed those kind of financial obligations.”

Daily Intel, Frank Gehry Officially Out at Atlantic Yards Stadium

After years of lawsuits, cost-cutting, and public debate, Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards stadium project has been reborn again— this time without starchitect Frank Gehry and his daring $1 billion design. The new version of the arena will be $200 million cheaper and designed by Kansas City firm Ellerbe Becket, architects who specialize in stadiums and convention centers. The new Atlantic Yards design revealed on the Times Website—which includes the plan for the massive new Nets basketball stadium—resembles their Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, home to the Indiana Pacers. From the looks of it, the building will be a lot less striking than the glass bubble amid Gehry’s wobbly pile of boxes, but rumors that he was out have been building for months, and reports of the scaling back of his design bit by bit have been trickling out for over a year now...

Posted by steve at 5:40 AM

June 5, 2009

Gehry: Going, going, going... gone (Part Deux)

Lots of news coverage today. Here are a few stories that have come in over the past couple hours — or managed to wriggle through our usually trusty boondoggle net.

NY1, Famed Architect Departs Atlantic Yards Project [with video]

The group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which has been fighting the project, is calling on Governor David Paterson to stop the development. They say it will not deliver on Ratner's promises.

"This is just one more piece of evidence that they never intended to build it the way they said they would," said Candance Carponter of Develop, Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "It's really, at this point, the icing on the cake, because one of the main draws was Frank Gehry and obviously he was too expensive or they couldn't build the plan they wanted and it's another bait and switch from Forest City Ratner."

WNYC Radio, Developer Replaces Architect of NJ Nets Arena

Ratner used Gehry's name liberally while winning government approvals for Atlantic Yards. But in the end the developer couldn't afford the world-famous architect. Gehry's design would've cost nearly a billion dollars. Instead, Ratner has turned the project over to Ellerbe Becket, a lesser-known firm that's designed NBA arenas in Memphis, Tennessee, and Charlotte, North Carolina. The developer says Ellerbe Becket's design will be "more limited in scope" and images will be shown later this month. Ratner's office hasn't said whether Gehry will continue as architect for any of the other 16 buildings at Atlantic Yards.

The Architect's Newspaper, Gehry'd Away

Asked for a timeline on the rest of the project, which includes 16 residential and office towers in addition to the arena, the [Ratner] spokesperson said that remained undecided, as the first priority was finishing the arena. But the spokesperson also suggested that Gehry Partners’ involvement might have come to an end. “Frank might design one of the buildings later, I don’t think it’s impossible,” the spokesperson said. “But right now, he just the master planner.”

Gehry had long been seen as a linchpin to the project’s success, touted on the Atlantic Yards website and by numerous politicians. At the announcement of the project in December 2003, Borough President Marty Markowitz declared, “Brooklyn is a world-class city, and it deserves a world-class team in a world-class arena designed by a world-class architect.”

NorthJersey.com, Nets replace renowned architect Gehry as Barclays Center designer

The more modest design may help in reducing the overall cost, but it could make it more difficult for the Nets to market the arena to potential sponsors as an internationally renowned project. Nets Chief Executive Brett Yormark said last year he was pitching the Barclays Center to potential European corporate partners not as an arena but “as a landmark.”

The Nets, who have a year-to-year lease to remain at the Meadowlands’ Izod Center, are running out of time to break ground in time for a fall 2011 opening in Brooklyn.

GlobeSt.com, Gehry Off the Job at Atlantic Yards

As recently as last Tuesday, Ellerbe Becket principal Bill Crocket told GlobeSt.com, "we are working with Forest City Ratner, doing analysis, and as far as when any decision is going to be reached, I can’t tell you." He added that he didn’t think any decisions about timing, or anything else, had been made at that point. But that was Tuesday, and as has been the case at Atlantic Yards, events change almost daily.

NoLandGrab: It would be more accurate to say "stories change almost daily."

Posted by eric at 12:13 PM

It Came from the Blogosphere... (Frank, we hardly knew ye edition)

Brownstoner, Gehry Officially Off Yards Project

Unfortunately for all of us, The Times describes the new design as bearing a resemblance to Conseco Field as well as an "airplane hangar."

Curbed, The De-Frankified Barclays Center React-o-Matic!

Curbed serves up a round-up of some reactions to the Gehry news, with a Bob Guskind-esque headline, who, it so happens, was honored last night with a posthumous award for community service by the Park Slope Civic Council.

Following yesterday's formal announcement of the junking of starchitect Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards arena for a cheaper design, a look at how the Interweb is reacting to the new Barclays Center, aka The Hangar.

The Local [Fort Greene/Clinton Hill], Arena Plan: Gehry Out, Ellerbe In

Our colleague Charles Bagli reports over on the mother Web site that Forest City Ratner has formally dropped Frank Gehry’s plan for a billion-dollar arena at Atlantic Yards in favor of a more modest $800 million model designed by the Missouri architectural firm Ellerbe Becket.

Gothamist, It's Official: No Gehry At Brooklyn Nets Arena

Ratner has stated he hopes to break ground on the arena this year; his opponents doubt that will happen.

Runnin' Scared, Atlantic Yards Scales Back; Gehry's Playhouse Gives Way to "Airplane Hangar"

Of course, scaling back the project doesn't mean scaling back what it demands of the city: Ratner is asking to be permitted to pay the MTA only a fraction of the cost of air and land rights needed for the project upfront, with the remainder to be tendered when the big bucks start rolling in. It's beginning to get around that this scheme is going to cost more than benefit the city, and even longtime booster Mike Bloomberg is getting cold feet. And as for the neighbors, forget it. Sometimes it seems like the only people left in Brooklyn who want this thing are the people who run the borough and the people who want to run it.

Not Another F*cking Blog, Gehry’s out, Becket’s in, as Atlantic Yards arena architect

I’d love to be a fly on the wall by the water cooler across the pond at Barclays. They had said they were willing to toss $20,000,000 per year for 20 years (that’s $400,000,000!) at Forest City Ratner for the honor of having their name and logo plastered all over a Gehry design. Becket? Who? Airplane hanger??! They have lots of web site updating to do over at www.barclayscenter.com.

In the Crease [Newsday.com], No hockey in Brooklyn

Scratch one more prospective site for the Islanders to move, if they are in the mood to move. According to a story in the New York Times today, the new plan for the Nets' arena at the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn does not include accommodations for a hockey rink.

Atlantic Yards, like Charles Wang's Lighthouse development proposal on the Nassau Coliseum grounds, has been delayed far beyond the developer's intentions. Lawsuits and the recession have plagued the Brooklyn plan. It will be interested to see which site gets a shovel in the ground first--or if either ever does.

Islanders crazy, Brooklyn we go small

With the situation on the Island being uncertain and the recent court victory for Ratner, fans have now plotted Brooklyn on their wish lists for alternative homes of Islanders hockey. But the notion that Brooklyn could be the new home for hockey might not be a reality anymore.

Nets Daily, Gehry Design Out, New Design Like Pacers Arena

Curbed LA, Gehry's Brooklyn Arena Design Replaced

Curbed, Frank Talk on Atlantic Yards

Posted by eric at 11:31 AM


Frank Gehry, Who Produced Overall Master Plan, Relinquishes Role as Architect of the Barclays Center

NEW YORK, June 4, 2009 - Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and Gehry Partners today announced a mutual agreement in which Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry, who produced the master plan for the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, will no longer serve as the architect for the arena to be called the Barclays Center.

As the master planner for the Atlantic Yards development, Frank Gehry created a blueprint for what will be a vibrant new urban community blending an arena, housing, retail and commercial space, as well as six acres of landscaped public open space.

FCRC also announced that it has retained the award-winning architectural firm Ellerbe Becket to design the Barclays Center, which will be the home of the Nets basketball team and host over 200 concerts and family shows annually. The new arena design will incorporate all of the approved design standards.

"I have an immense gratitude toward Frank Gehry for his amazing vision, unparalleled talent and steadfast partnership," said FCRC Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner. “Both at Atlantic Yards and with the Beekman tower in lower Manhattan, he has continually produced beyond our expectations. Throughout this process - as litigation produced delay; as rising construction costs impacted the budgets of all developers; and a slowing economy altered expectations - Frank and his team have shown remarkable flexibility and professionalism, making cost-effective revisions as needed. The current economic climate is not right for this design, and with Frank’s understanding, the arena is undergoing a redesign that will make it more limited in scope.”

Mr. Gehry said, "We remain extremely proud of our work on the Atlantic Yards master plan and on the original arena, which we designed in close collaboration with Forest City Ratner. While there are always regrets at designs not realized, we greatly appreciate our ongoing relationship with Bruce and his team."

link [PDF]

FCRC hopes to unveil the new images of the Barclays Center in late June and intends to break ground later this year in anticipation of a completed arena in time for the Nets to play the 2011-2012 NBA season in Brooklyn.

Ellerbe Becket has designed some of the world’s most notable and successful sports and entertainment facilities, most notably Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis,IN, Qwest Field in Seattle,WA, and the Guangdong Olympic Stadium in China.

“Ellerbe Becket has been responsible for designing some of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “From Conseco Fieldhouse to FedExForum, Ellerbe Becket has created a first-class fan experience in all of its buildings. I am excited for Ellerbe Becket to design a world-class arena for Brooklyn and I look forward to opening night at the Barclays Center.”

Mr. Ratner said, "Working with Ellerbe Becket, I am confident that we will meet all of our design objectives while providing a dynamic environment and the best sightlines for basketball fans and spectators for all events.”

About Forest City
Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Forest City Enterprises, owns and operates 31 properties in the New York metropolitan area. Forest City Enterprises, Inc., a $10.9-billion NYSE-listed national real estate company, is principally engaged in the ownership, development, management and acquisition of commercial and residential real estate and land throughout the United States.

About Gehry Partners
Gehry Partners, LLP is a full service firm with broad international experience in academic, commercial, museum, performance and residential projects. Frank Gehry established his practice in Los Angeles, California in 1962. The Gehry partnership, Gehry Partners, LLP, was formed in 2002 and employs a large number of senior architects who have extensive experience in the technical development of building systems and construction documents, and who are highly qualified in the management of complex projects. Every project undertaken by Gehry Partners is designed personally and directly by Frank Gehry.

About Ellerbe Becket
Ellerbe Becket is internationally recognized as a leader in the architecture, engineering and interior design industries. The firm’s sports practice specializes in the design of facilities that are renowned for providing outstanding patron experience. With offices worldwide, the firm has designed more arenas than nearly any other architectural firm, including 15 new arenas for the NBA and NHL in the past two decades. Ellerbe Becket brings together fans, athletes, and sponsors through the design of iconic venues that are efficient to build, own and operate. 2009 marks Ellerbe Becket's 100th anniversary. For more information, visit www.ellerbebecket.com.

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Ratner Dumps Gehry from Atlantic Yards Proposal

With All of the Purported Project Benefits Gone Gov. Paterson Must Act Now To Scrap Atlantic Yards Plan

Brooklyn, New York -- Forest City Ratner made it official yesterday, they dumped Frank Gehry. The "starchitect" has officially been taken off of the Atlantic Yards project—the arena, all of it.

Kansas City-based Ellerbe Becket will design the arena, which, according to an article in the New York Times and obvious from the rendering published by the Times, looks like an airplane hangar and is just as incongruent with its neighborhood surroundings as the Gehry designs were.

The jettisoning of Gehry is just the latest in broken promises from Ratner and the disappearing benefits touted by the developer and his supporters when the project was approved in 2006.

If constructed, the arena would be a monument to one of the most notorious bait and switches in City history, built on a foundation of Ratner's broken promises.

"It is time for Governor Paterson to take control of this debacle, end the charade that the Atlantic Yards proposal is a viable project that provides any benefit for the public and make it official, on paper, that Atlantic Yards is scrapped," said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "Then, finally, stakeholders and our elected officials can work together with multiple developers to construct affordable housing and reasonable density over the Vanderbilt Rail Yards. The community has the plan—the Unity Plan—and its viability and public benefits are light years ahead of the zombie project known as Atlantic Yards."

Nearly all of the purported public benefits of the project have disappeared or dwindled to nearly nothing over the past year:

With the focus on the arena, the "affordable" housing is barely still in the picture, with the number of units and income levels unknown and financing non-existent.

The world class, one-of-a-kind Frank Gehry arena is now gone.

The office jobs and their projected revenue are gone, as there are no plans to buld the office tower.

The so-called "urban room," a glorified lobby at the base of the office tower and entrance to the arena, touted as a great public amenity will not come to fruition without the office tower and with the new hangar-like arena design.

Last week the Independent Budget Office (IBO) testified that the arena would be a money-loser for NYC.

Purported "blight" would be replaced with the real blight of Ratner's demolished properties and parking lots.

Bye-bye Gehry calls into question whether Barclays Bank, which bought $400 million naming rights for the starchitect's landmark design, will be willing to fork over that kind of cash for...an airplane hangar. It's doubtful. And the same goes for other arena sponsors, and the unfortunate few who have put deposits down on the slow-to-sell luxury suites. Ratner's entire arena revenue model is faulty.

It's clear that the project approved in 2006 no longer exists as a possible reality, but still does exist in official project documents. But that will change as the ESDC will soon release a new project plan, and the MTA will attempt to ram a new sweetheart deal for Ratner down the throats of taxpayers and transit-riders. The clock is ticking on Ratner as he attempts to gain concessions one last time from the MTA, the ESDC and Governor Paterson.

"Will Governor Paterson enable a zombie project with no public benefit to go forward? The ball is now in the Governor's court," Goldstein concluded.

Posted by lumi at 7:25 AM

Missing from the arena block: the much-touted Urban Room

Atlantic Yards Report

Also gone with architect Frank Gehry is the "Urban Room," which was advertised as one of the great public amenities of the project:

So, what's missing from the new renderings of the arena block by Ellerbe Becket released today, along with news that Frank Gehry is gone?

Oh, how about two of the four buildings on the arena block, including the office tower known as Building 1 (which, though no longer "Miss Brooklyn, " had become "very special to me," Gehry said last year) and the much-touted Urban Room, a large, glass-enclosed public space.

The Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), while calling the Urban Room (below) "a significant public amenity" in the General Project Plan it approved 12/8/06, some ten months later, in the State Funding Agreement, required developer Forest City Ratner only to provide "subway station access" to the arena, not the Urban Room "destination" (a term from the Final Environmental Impact Statement, or FEIS) that wowed some architecture critics.

Remember, ESDC CEO Marisa Lago said just last Friday that nothing in the General Project Plan had changed.


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

Gehry: Going, going, going... gone

Here are the headlines from the media barrage, following Charles Bagli's scoop in the NY Times, after which Forest City Ratner was forced to issue a press release finally confirming Frank Gehry's departure from the project.

Associated Press, via The Star-Ledger, Developer drops Frank Gehry design to cut costs on future Brooklyn home of N.J. Nets

Developer Bruce Ratner said Thursday that Gehry's design has been scrapped for a cheaper design of the arena, named the Barclays Center. Ratner said "the economic climate is not right" for Gehry's design.

Ratner says revised images released by a Kansas City, Mo., architect should be out for the arena this month. He still hopes to break ground on it this year.


Along with the Times, the Post was able to obtain a rendering of the new arena:

It is unclear who will be designing the 16 residential-office towers that would make up the rest of Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights.

Although the Post obtained a rendering showing the arena's new vision, Ratner said he'll formally unveil the new images of the arena later this month and break ground by September.

Here's one more reason to question anything Ratner and his henchmen ever say in the press:

Ratner has also been shooting down rumors since January that Gehry was canned from the project, but previously admitted bringing in engineers and other architects to seek cheaper ways to build.

The NY Times, Developer Drops Gehry’s Design for Brooklyn Arena

Here are some more details and observations from the Times story:

The switch met with the approval of David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, who said that Ellerbe Becket had designed “some of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world.”

If the arena is built, however, it will most likely take more than two years to complete. Unlike the Gehry design, the new arena would not accommodate a professional hockey team.
“The current Atlantic Yards plan bears increasingly less resemblance to the project that was approved in 2006,” said Vin Cipolla, the president of the Municipal Art Society. “The replacement of Gehry further reduces the public benefits of the project, which urgently needs re-evaluation and oversight.”

NY Daily News, Starchitect Frank Gehry dumped from Atlantic Yards for cheaper option

So long, Frank Gehry.

The famed starchitect announced Thursday he will no longer be involved in designing the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn - a move rumored for months.
"It's all about money," said a source close to the project.
Jessica Schaffer, 28, an art gallery assistant who lives in Prospect Heights, worried a design without Gehry's stamp would add to the area's dreary architecture.

"The Atlantic Mall is already incredibly ugly," said Schaffer. "Now it's just going to be a giant sprawling ugliness. If it was beautiful, I'd maybe be down."

The Brooklyn Paper, Bruce to Gehry: You’re fired

The local weekly ran a quote from Brooklyn Borough President and Atlantic Yards Cheerleader in Chief Marty Markowitz:

Borough President Markowitz, whose longtime support for Gehry’s design softened earlier this year when out-of-control costs threatened the viability of the entire $4-billion mega-development, urged Ratner to press ahead without the Los Angeles-based genius.

“The great architect Frank Gehry has been absolutely central to creating the guiding vision for this project, and Ellerbe Becket is one of the best firms in the business — so we can be confident that the Nets and Brooklyn will indeed have a world-class, stunning arena here in Downtown Brooklyn and we will be bringing more affordable housing to those who so desperately need it,” he said in a statement.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Daniel Goldstein stated the obvious:

“The project that was approved [in 2006] no longer exists,” he said. “Is Barclays going to pay $400 million to put their name on what will be an airport hanger? Will other sponsors stick with a building that is no longer Gehry, no longer world-class building?”

Goldstein also mentioned that other benefits of the project, including tax revenues, have also been scaled back.

“It’s a bad project that has gotten worse,” he said. “The alleged benefits are diminising on a daily basis. The state needs to step in.”

Crain's NY Business, Gehry ousted as Nets stadium designer

Crain's covered some of the business angles of the story, though it is an "arena," not a "stadium," as the headline suggests:

“The current economic climate is not right for this design and with Frank’s understanding, the arena is undergoing a redesign that will make it more limited in scope,” said Forest City Ratner Chairman Bruce Ratner, in a statement.
Mr. Gehry’s departure from the project has been rumored for months because stadium’s cost of nearly $1 billion represented about a quarter of the overall development’s $4 billion cost. Sources said that Forest City’s banker Goldman Sachs Group Inc. told company officials they needed to cut the cost of the stadium if they were ever going to find a way to finance it. The stadium’s $950 million price tag is nearly double the cost of other arenas built in the United States, according to Sports Business Journal.
Still, financing for the project is a major hurdle. Banks have virtually stopped lending, especially for huge projects like Atlantic Yards.

Reuters, Forest City names new architect for Brooklyn arena

Here's architect Frank Gehry's statement:

"While there are always regrets at designs not realized, we greatly appreciate our ongoing relationship with Bruce and his team," Gehry said.

NoLandGrab: By "ongoing relationship," we assume Gehry means the Beekman St. Tower in Lower Manhattan, currently under construction.

Field of Schemes, Nets ditch Gehry for cheaper option; can this save Atlantic Yards?

The latest news didn't take sports-economy writer Neil de Mause by surprise:

In a development that surprised exactly one guy who was living under a rock, the New York Times revealed today that New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has ditched Frank Gehry's design for a Brooklyn basketball arena, and will instead attempt to move ahead with a cheaper design by Ellerbe Becket, architect of several other NBA arenas. The revelation comes six months after Gehry quit the project, and a week after Sports Business Journal predicted that Ellerbe Becket would be taking over.

amNY, Gehry out as architect of Atlantic Yards arena

This short item ran in the commuter daily published by Newsday (no online version available):


MetroNY, Architect out of Nets project
The other commuter daily ran a short item as well:


Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Gehry Officially Off the Atlantic Yards Project

We haven't seen the press release yet, but we're fairly certain that you can find it on the Daily Eagle's web site.

Atlantic Yards Report, The FCR press release refers to Gehry in the past tense, not as "master planner"

Norman Oder carefully parses the press release from the Daily Eagle's web site for clues of Frank Gehry's further involvment with Atlantic Yards, and notes that Bruce Ratner continues to mislead the press and public about the projected arena opening date.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forest City drops Frank Gehry as architect on planned Nets arena

News of of the break with Gehry has reached Bruce Ratner's hometown of Cleveland.

Posted by lumi at 5:49 AM

June 4, 2009

Developer Drops Gehry Design for Brooklyn Arena

The New York Times
by Charles V. Bagli

Big breaking news from The Times: Frank Gehry is officially no longer the architect for the Atlantic Yards basketball arena. We'll have more as this develops, but suffice it to say, this is just one more bait and switch courtesy of Forest City Ratner.

Frank Gehry is out as the architect for the Barclays Center, an exotic, $1 billion glass-walled arena that is the centerpiece of the long-delayed and financially challenged Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, according to government officials and real estate executives who have been briefed on the plans.

The design by Mr. Gehry, the award-winning architect behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has been replaced with a less-expensive, $800 million arena.

The new design comes from Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in convention centers, stadiums and arenas, and designed Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play. Officials who have seen the design for the Brooklyn arena say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse, it also bears a likeness to an “airplane hangar.”


Posted by eric at 4:59 PM

May 22, 2009

Clueless Charlie Rose asks about "Brooklyn Yards;" Gehry says "it hasn't stopped"

Atlantic Yards Report

On the Charlie Rose show Wednesday, architect Frank Gehry, on the occasion of the publication of the Conversations with Frank Gehry, met up with an interviewer even less clueful about Atlantic Yards than author Barbara Isenberg.

But Gehry dropped some hints, at least, that the Atlantic Yards plan of the past is not the AY plan of the present.

The exchange starts at about 6:38.

Click thru for Norman Oder's annotated transcript of the segment.

NoLandGrab: We have to admit, we thought "clueful" was a made-up word, but our dictionary bears out the erudite Mr. Oder.

Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

May 12, 2009

Can Gehry’s reputation survive Atlantic Yards?

A developer’s rejection of Frank Gehry’s design for a landmark Brooklyn stadium could be the final nail in the coffin of his ‘starchitect’ reputation

The First Post
by Charles Laurence

This critique of the legend of Frank Gehry from Britain's The Week contains a couple inaccuracies about the starchitect's stalled Brooklyn megaproject.

Has Frank Gehry been fooling us all along? First came the leaks and cracks in one of his buildings that led to lawsuits in Boston, and now comes a biography that reveals the 'starchitect's' other-worldly, arty persona to be a self-conscious front.

Since his triumph with the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Gehry's swooping, anarchic forms, defying straight lines and conventional balance, have made him perhaps the most popular contemporary architect. At 80, Gehry appears to be at the top of his game. He is better known than any of his rivals; his buildings give pleasure to people who know nothing of architectural niceties.

But there are doubts. Gehry designs are deemed high maintenance, and people question whether they will endure. Is he capable of doing more than his signature swoops without getting silly, or simply dull?

The $4.2bn Atlantic Yards project in New York's Brooklyn - a sports arena surrounded by office towers and apartment blocks on reclaimed industrial wasteland - should be the Rockefeller Centre of our times and his crowning glory. Instead it has been stalled by local opposition, unrealistic costs, and complaints that the apartment blocks are stodgy, conventional and lazy. Gehry is at the centre of controversy again.

Hey, that "reclaimed industrial wasteland" was actually the rapidly redeveloping home to several hundred people, pre-Ratner.

Perhaps the greater blow to Gehry's triumph lies in the Atlantic Yards of Brooklyn. While the critics condemned the uninspired outer buildings, no one doubted that his sports stadium and signature office tower were Gehry beauties. But there was no thought for budget, and even before the Wall Street meltdown the developer had abandoned the Gehry stadium for a cheaper, conventional design from another architect.


NoLandGrab: "No one doubted?" If by "no one," Laurence means "Herbert Muschamp and Nicolai Ourousoff," the The New York Times's architecture critics, then that's right. But as far as Ratner having "abandoned" Gehry's arena design, that's all still speculation, since Ratner and the ESDC are mum, and as of last night, Gehry said, sort of, that he's still the man.

Posted by eric at 11:17 AM

In brief mention of AY, Gehry says his pessimism was "misread," suggests project is "ready to go"

Atlantic Yards Report

Several people showed up at yesterday's panel discussion with Frank Gehry and submitted questions about Atlantic Yards.

"I think there are about seven questions about this, I'm boiling it down to one," said [NY Public Library's Paul] Holdengraber. "People want to know what more plans you have for New York City, particularly in the context of a March comment you made about the Atlantic Yards where you say, 'I don't think they're going to happen,' and people want to know what you mean."
Gehry seemed prepared for the question. "That was misread. I probably said something like that, but I'm always, y'know, 'the glass is half-full.'"

[According to the Architect's Newspaper, Gehry said exactly something like that.]

"Um, it's going ahead," he continued. "There's work going on. Every developer in the world is struggling with the times we're in... So it's frustrating if you're someone like me and you're working on it five years, you've done all this work, and it's ready to go. In Brooklyn, there's a lawsuit--one lawsuit that persists, and they can't start until that's settled. "

[All indications are that work has been SUSPENDED on Atlantic Yards. Maybe, by "work," Gehry meant lobbying.]


NoLandGrab: Ever notice that the decision-making process for Atlantic Yards is so opaque, that watchdogs are reduced to hounding people-in-the-know at public events in hopes of getting answers? It seems crazy because it is.

Gehry's [deliberately(?)] ignorant answer leaves Brooklynites back where they started, in the dark.

Posted by lumi at 5:34 AM

May 11, 2009

Questions for the oversight hearing: Is Frank Gehry still on the project? What's he doing?

Atlantic Yards Report

Is Frank Gehry still working on the Atlantic Yards project? Developer Forest City Ratner says he is, even though Gehry laid off or reassigned the entire project team late last year.


If Gehry has laid off his staff, as has been reported, what does that mean:
• Is Gehry still working on the project? How actively?
• Will he rehire staff to work on the project?
• Have other architects taken Gehry's designs and reworked them to save money?
• Can the price tag, once $950 million, be cut in half?
• Why exactly did the price tag rocket from $435 million to $950 million?

Why does it matter? Because Forest City Ratner and Barclays, which bought arena naming rights, continue to tout Gehry's role.

...if the arena, once to be designed by Gehry, would instead be "inspired" by Gehry's design, then wouldn't revenues for the arena sponsor as well as the government be lower?

So the public has an interest in the issue.
Gehry's speaking tonight at the New York Public Library.


Posted by lumi at 5:29 AM

May 8, 2009

Essence of the Architect

The New York Times Book Review
by Martin Filler

Barbara Isenberg’s “Conversations With Frank Gehry” is the latest attempt to elicit the essence of his creative method in his own words. Isenberg, a Los Angeles-based writer on the arts, exhibits neither [Kurt] Forster’s intellectual sheen nor [Mildred] Friedman’s comprehensive expertise, but nonetheless offers worthwhile new information for architecture devotees and an engaging introduction for general readers.

Doubtless eager to remain in her subject’s good graces, Isenberg poses few questions of the confrontational sort that wise interrogators withhold until the end of a session, lest they be shown the door. For example, from her upbeat recapitulation of Gehry’s Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn — a large-scale mixed-use urban redevelopment centered on a professional basketball arena — you’d never know that the scheme has aroused heated opposition from community groups and planning experts, or that its future is imperiled by the current economic crisis.


NoLandGrab: Folks who've shelled out 25 bucks to see Isenberg interview Gehry at the New York Public Library this coming Monday evening may come away disappointed if Isenberg "poses few questions of the confrontational sort."

Posted by eric at 9:29 PM

April 23, 2009

Gehry says he always works "tight to the bone," so why did arena cost go up 50%?

Atlantic Yards Report

As Frank Gehry continues to shape his own legend, Atlantic Yards watchdog Norman Oder is still trying to get answers about the true cost of the planned Nets arena.


Though Gehry didn't mention Atlantic Yards during the interview [on the radio show Design and Architecture], AY-watchers would be most intrigued by his comments at about 17:50:

For me, I've always felt that if I didn't work very tight to the bone--and tight to the bone means, If a client gives you a program, and they have a budget, and that program and budget will build X, then you have to stay close to that to be successful. And then if you kept doing that, then people would come back and hire you again, because they knew you were going to do that. That's been my ethic. Now there are a few buildings that sometimes you have clients that want to... be excessive, for their own reasons. I tend to stay away from those projects. I've had a few from time to time. Most of them never got built, like a big house in Cleveland.

So, that begs the question: how did the projected cost of the Atlantic Yards arena skyrocket from $637.2 million in December 2006 to $950 million in March 2008?

And why are others, not Gehry, trying to value-engineer the cost in half?


Posted by lumi at 6:50 AM

Debating the Design Depression: Austerity vs Extravagance

Fast Company
By Alissa Walker

Atlantic Yards makes a cameo in an article about the handwringing over the direction of design and architecture during a global economic depression:

But is it indeed immoral to design something overly large, overly decadent, overly expensive in these dark times? Should Hadid be publicly tried for her design crimes? Should the auto designers with sleek yet oil-dependent cars on their drawing boards be damned to design hell? Frank Gehry for wanting his fantastical Atlantic Yards to become a reality? Moss for pushing something like Hella Jongerius' Polder Sofa ($10,615)? The whole of Milan this week for perpetuating such a concept? And where do we possibly draw the line?


NoLandGrab: The community has wondered if it is "immoral" to force neighborhood residents to sell their homes for a professional basketball arena, to use taxpayer money for the privilege and not reveal the real costs, to fund "astroturf" organizations and call it grassroots support, etc.

You don't have to dig deep to ponder the social and moral consequences of the Atlantic Yards project; it's ironic that designers and architects should all of a sudden start now.

Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

April 21, 2009

In new book, Gehry warns (in 2005) about the "dicey" DNA of Ratner's FCE parent, but author doesn't check back on AY today

Atlantic Yards Report

Despite the lack of hard-nosed questions about Atlantic Yards and his relationship with developer Bruce Ratner, Frank Gehry had a few things to say about the controversial megaproject when interviewed for Barbara Isenberg’s "Conversations With Frank Gehry." Norman Oder mines the book for references and teases out some additional context.

Here are some tidbits:

For now, however, consider the pregnant statement Gehry made to his interviewer nearly four years ago about his client, Bruce Ratner: “His parent company’s DNA is a little dicey.”

Now the economy has plummeted, the project has stalled, Gehry has laid off his AY staff, and the tension grows between artistic quality and corporate results. Gehry said in January 2006, "I think if it got out of whack with my own principles, I would walk away."

How much more dicey has Forest City Enterprises’ DNA gotten? And is the project "out of whack"?
Gehry sounds a bit like he has assimilated a bit of Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, saying he embraced working in Brooklyn since he lived here as a one-year-old, his kids moved to Brooklyn, and "[t]he idea of bringing a sports team back to Brooklyn is very powerful, because they lost one. It’s been like a big hole in their gut since they lost the Dodgers, and I think Bruce is doing it for the same reasons. he loves that idea."
Gehry describes the relationship with the Department of City Planning as “we mostly see eye-to-eye.” He says Mayor Mike Bloomberg has provided a lot of support.

“And Ratner and his team work really well with my team,” Gehry continues. “They like each other, and they even spend social time together. They sometimes have to travel together so everybody has kind of bonded, me included. For what I’ve yearned to do, it’s kind of the dream project.”
At the time of their conversation in August 2005, Gehry was “clearly excited” about Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM

The prince and process

Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry supports "engaging with the democratic process!"

Gehry signed on to an open letter chastising the Prince of Wales for recent comments condemning a Westminster development.

In the comments section, NoLandGrab.org's Steve Soblick couldn't help noting that Gehry's defense only makes sense if you're not from Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 6:00 AM

April 18, 2009

Book Review: 'Conversations With Frank Gehry' by Barbara Isenberg

Los Angeles Times
By Christopher Hawthorne

The reviewer of this collection of Frank Gehry interviews cannily observes how a certain Brooklyn project is hardly mentioned:

Isenberg generally steers clear of touchy subjects, notably the controversy that has surrounded the Brooklyn project. Known as Atlantic Yards, and designed to cover as many as 22 acres with 8 million square feet of new construction, it has been bitterly opposed by neighborhood activists. Gehry has sounded ambivalent about the commission of late and hardly seems to mourn the fact that the project may never be built, even in piecemeal form.


NoLandGrab: Perhaps some have "bitterly opposed" Atlantic Yards, but some of us have been happy to do what we can for a better Brooklyn.

Posted by steve at 6:37 AM

April 3, 2009

Frank Gehry learns to like Ike — and the memorial competition

LA Times Blogs

"Mammoth Atlantic Yards" designer Frank Gehry wins competition to design the new Eisenhower memorial in DC.

To be sure, it will be a benefit for cities to see our most talented and experienced designers tackle public projects as opposed to the oversized and purely commercial developments, such as Gehry’s mammoth Atlantic Yards design in New York, that have lately occupied so much of their creative energy. Competitions for public projects ought to be far more common in this country than they are now. Spain and other European nations have revitalized their cities by requiring design competitions for most public buildings.


NoLandGrab: What ever happened to the wooly mammoth?

Posted by lumi at 5:09 AM

April 2, 2009

Gehry To Be Coated With Titanium

Preservation Institute Blog
by Charles Siegel

This item comes to us a day late.

The Pritzker Prize committee revealed today that, according to the newly released details of his will, the architect Frank Gehry will be coated with titanium after his death, and the statue will be given as a trophy to the Pritzker Prize winner for the following year.

The Pritzker committee said that, because of the current economic crisis, they may not build Gehry's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, and they are trying to cancel part of his contract in Miami, but the Pritzker winner who receives his statue will be required to include it in a future building, guaranteeing the titanium coating its rightful place as an element of today's architecture.


Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

Is Atlantic Yards Dead or Not, Mr. Gehry?

Brooklyn Downtown Star
by Daniel Bush

Six years ago, developer Bruce Ratner commissioned world-famous architect Frank Gehry to help design the Atlantic Yards complex. Now, after years of delays and setbacks, Gehry appears to have given up all hope the project will ever be realized. Or has he?


Posted by eric at 8:49 AM

March 31, 2009

Noticing Noticing New York

Gehry Leaks

Michael D. D. White explores the history of Frank Gehry's buildings and leaks. In Cambridge, MA, Gehry blamed the leaks on "value engineering," which doesn't bode well for two Forest City Ratner projects — Beekman Tower (or "Stump," depending on where it tops out) and Atlantic Yards — both of which are currently getting the value-engineering treatment.

Here is prediction that somebody should perhaps be making about the Beekman. Have you watched the way water runs down mountainsides in a heavy rainstorm? Look at how the Beekman facade has channels that will collect rivuleting water into expanding streams, especially when pushed around by wind. We really can’t help ourselves; we are expecting that there may be water problems at the Beekman. As water cascades down the side of the building where will the water go? Leaks into the building’s interior may not be the only problem.

That’s what we were thinking before word came out that the Beekman may be redesigned and built at only half its originally planned height. Where are we now? All we can say is happy value engineering!

Former AIG Executive’s Whereabouts: Quick Note on Scandal Follow-up Questions We Hope Are Being Asked

Commentary on AIG, Barclays and the Nets arena naming-rights deal:

What makes this a windfall paid for at U.S. Taxpayer expense is the fact that, in a self-dealing fashion, AIG executives routed substantially more money to Barclays than it deserved. We said in our previous article:

As people closely following the scandal know, AIG has been routing federal bailout money around the world and to Wall Street, essentially buying favor with big firms and banks by unnecessarily paying 100% on the dollar to extinguish collateral obligations which should have been extinguished with much lower negotiated discount sums. This has turned into windfall infusions of cash, a counterintuitive reward for financial companies who (foolishly?) placed their bets on AIG’s unregulated derivatives and CDO division being sound.

Adding our two cents to the points [Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn] made, we found, with respect to those [retention] bonuses, another analogy with respect to Atlantic Yards (like the AIG scandal, also a product of New York’s “FIRE” sector- Finance, Insurance and Real Estate culture). We asked why the executives who steered AIG into the mess thought they were entitled to be retained (through bonuses) to clean up that mess. This, we said was the same thing as the financially teetering Forest City Ratner executives expecting that they have some sort of propriety right to clean up the mess they very consciously created in Prospect Heights and Fort Greene.

Posted by lumi at 5:02 AM

March 29, 2009

Backpedalling For A Sunday Morning

Those who have spent the last few years following the ways of Bruce Ratner are quite used to seeing communications from Forest City Ratner wherein straightforward English phrases are interpreted to mean whatever pleases the developer. This past week, the spin machine speed dial was turned to "Full" as starchitect Frank Gehry's simple, honest assessment of Atlantic Yards: ''I don't think it's going to happen" was reimagined as a hissy fit on Gehry's part.

Chicago Sun-Times - Brooklyn plans
By John Jackson

The New Jersey Nets still contend they'll be moving to Brooklyn, although the opening date of their new arena, the Barclays Center, keeps getting pushed back.

But last week, famed architect Frank Gehry, who designed the arena and the Atlantic Yards project that surrounds it, expressed doubts the project will be built. ''I don't think it's going to happen,'' he said bluntly.

''Frank Gehry is still the architect of this project,'' said Brett Yormark, the Nets' CEO. ''He loves it; it's still dear to his heart, no different than it is to all of us.

''It's fair to say there are a lot of people concerned. But things take time in New York City, especially from a development perspective. Frank was just venting, probably.''

Yormark said he expects ground to be broken on the project this summer and that the Nets will open the 2011-12 season there.

Newsday - Brooklyn dodging
by Alan Hahn

Those skeptical of the Nets' ambitious Brooklyn plans were not surprised to hear the project's famous architect, Frank Gehry, recently admit, "I don't think it's going to happen." But the Nets quickly mobilized to insist the plans still are full steam ahead.

Nets owner Bruce Ratner said concerns about the Atlantic Yards development project in the troubling economic environment are "understandable," but Ratner went on to say that the project's biggest hang-up - legal battles with residents who needed to be relocated - has gone completely in favor of the Nets. A decision regarding eminent domain is expected within a month, which would fast-track the project for a groundbreaking by early summer.

The plan remains to have the Nets in Brooklyn, at the new Barclays Center, for the start of the 2011-12 season.

"Atlantic Yards will get built," Ratner said.

Gehry later said his comments, which were published in an architectural trade magazine, were "misconstrued" and said his firm is "hopeful that the project will come to fruition in the very near future."

Posted by steve at 7:46 AM

March 27, 2009

British press watch

The Independent, Row grows in Brooklyn over Barclays' Nets deal
The Barclays naming-rights deal scandal has been reported in the British press.

Building Desgin Online, Foster and Gehry hit as New York projects go on hold

Frank Gehry's misadventure leads an article in a British architecture trade publication:

Speaking to US-based publication the Architect’s Newspaper, Gehry said: “The Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn—I don’t think it’s going to happen.

“There are projects underway that are being threatened, and may not be completed. That would be devastating to me. Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles is also on hold.”

Gehry, who turned 80 earlier this month, has since issued a statement saying his comment was “misconstrued as a prediction of the future of the Atlantic Yards development”.

It read: “All of us at Gehry Architects New York are immensely proud of our work with our client Forest City Ratner on the Atlantic Yards Project and remain hopeful that it will come to fruition in the very near future.”

Earlier this month, Gehry admitted he had been forced to cut staff numbers at his practice by 50% over the last year as projects were stopped or stalled.

His comments came as a number of high-profile developments hit trouble in New York.

Posted by lumi at 5:12 AM

Ratner Statement Doesn't Deny That Gehry is Off Atlantic Yards

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn noticed that Bruce Ratner never flat out denied that Frank Gehry is off the Atlantic Yards project. Instead Ratner explained, "Frank Gehry is a friend, a great architect and someone I have huge respect for."


Posted by lumi at 4:48 AM

March 26, 2009

New Jersey Nets: The Gehry Question

The Star-Ledger
by Dave D'Alessandro

Here's one we missed yesterday.

We're not in the habit of criticizing octogenarians, because we have an earnest desire to be one someday, and besides, some of our best friends fit that description.

It's a pretty sure bet that Bruce Ratner feels the same way, so he can't exactly call Frank Gehry dotty or addled, because he needs the architect to sell his project -- not only to make the sponsors stay on board, but just for his gravitas.

He can call him impatient and egocentric and just laugh it off, because that is often true with most great architects. There's a old line from Frank Lloyd Wright, who said, "Early in life, I realized I had to choose between hypocritical modesty or honest arrogance, and I chose the latter."

That, by the accounts we've read, is what you also get with Gehry. We wouldn't know, we never met the man. We only know him by his work, and frankly, that expressionist postmodern stuff makes us avert our eyes.

Still, for what it's worth, Gehry is at the heart of the Brooklyn project, and Ratner is tethered to him. And now the Master Builder is saying the project is kaput.

We'd say Ratner has some explaining to do. As Dan Goldstein put it yesterday, there really is no project without Gehry, who isn't getting any younger; and it certainly seems there is no Gehry commitment anymore, no matter how much back-tracking he does through a publicist.


Posted by eric at 8:47 AM

Atlantic Yards: Back from the dead edition

NY Daily News, Frank Gehry, Atlantic Yards officials backpedal on architect's comments project is dead

Frank Gehry was "just venting."

Forest City Ratner and Nets officials scrambled Wednesday to downplay the famed architect's comments that the controversial $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project may not be built.

New Jersey Nets CEO Brett Yormark said Gehry was still heading up the massive project - and said it would go up.

"Frank Gehry is still the architect of this project," Yormark insisted on WFAN radio. "He loves it. It's very dear to his heart, no different than it is to all of us."

"Frank was just venting probably," Yormark added later.

The Brooklyn Paper, Gehry says he was ‘misconstrued’ over predicting Yards demise

Starchitect Frank Gehry quickly recanted — sort of — a statement he made earlier in the week that the Atlantic Yards project is dead.

In a statement issued by his Los Angeles-based firm, the architect described his earlier comment, made in what he called a “free-flowing interview,” as being “misconstrued as a prediction of the future of the Atlantic Yards development.”

“All of us at Gehry Architects New York are immensely proud of our work with our client Forest City Ratner on the Atlantic Yards Project and remain hopeful that it will come to fruition in the very near future,” the statement concluded.

Atlantic Yards opponents reminded that some people define a gaffe as when a newsmaker slips up and actually tells the truth.

NY1 News, Gehry Expresses Doubts Over Atlantic Yards' Future

With video.

WNYC Radio, Atlantic Yards Architect: Project May Be Dead

Posted by eric at 7:48 AM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Atlantic Yards is dead! Long live Atlantic Yards!
Here's a sampling of the blowback from Frank Gehry's comment, reported in The Architect's Newspaper, that he didn't think that Atlantic Yards was going to happen.

Brownstoner, Gehry Says He Thinks Yards Won't Get Built, Then Hedges

In an interview with the Architect's Newspaper on Tuesday, starchitect Frank Gehry let this line slip about the Atlantic Yards project that he is the lead designer for: "I don't think it's going to happen." In a press release, Bruce Ratner called Gehry a "great friend" and said it was understandable that he (and others) "have concerns about this project happening in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression." Never fear, though, he said. It will get built. Gehry then responded through his publicist, saying that his original statement was "misconstrued as a prediction" about the project and that he remains "hopeful it will come to fruition." Time will tell.

Gothamist, Gehry: Atlantic Yards Project Won't Happen

From a pretty informed update of the recent events in the Atlantic Yards saga:

Starchitect Frank Gehry really stepped in it during a recent interview with industry journal The Architect's Newspaper, admitting he doesn't think developer Bruce Ratner's $4.2 billion plan to build a Nets basketball arena, office towers and thousands of apartments in Brooklyn will become a reality.
But Ratner is keeping up a brave face; in a statement sent out last night, he deemed Gehry's doubts "understandable," and even acknowledged that "others have concerns about this project happening in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression." But excelsior! Ratner insists, "Atlantic Yards will get built."

Hoops World, No Arena For The Nets?

Frank Gehry's comments come at a time when most believe the project will never get off the ground.

Curbed.com, Gehry Predicts Atlantic Yards' Death, But Hopes It'll Happen

Frank O. Gehry knows that what ends up getting built at Atlantic Yards might not bear much of his DNA, but according to the architect, Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards might not end up looking like much of anything at all.
That's some fresh blood in the water for the project's opponents, and the Atlantic Yards team (no, not the Nets) is already doing damage control.

Reason, Hit & Run, "...the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn—I don’t think it’s going to happen."

New York turned to eminent domain, it's worth remembering, so Bruce Ratner could build a new basketball stadium for the Bruce Ratner-owned Nets.

Runnin' Scared [Village Voice blog], Dark Days, Press-Wise, for Atlantic Yards

As Ward Harkavy pointed out this morning, Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry's admission in regard to the project ("I don't think it's going to happen") must chap developer Bruce Ratner's ass, despite Gehry's walkback.
Meanwhile the Daily News refers to the project as "trapped in limbo" and "dormant," and NY1 says Ratner is "struggling to raise cash for the project." Negative perceptions aren't everything, especially when big money and high-powered interests are pulling the other way, but this can't be helping the boosterism that long animated the project.

$mart A$sets [Village Voice blog], Game on at Atlantic Yards: Ratner disputes Gehry's pessimism. Even Gehry disputes Gehry.

But as I noted yesterday, speaking of the massive development's future, Gehry told The Architect's Newspaper, "I don't think it's going to happen."

Oops, there goes that sales scheme.

Joshing Politics, Gehry Proclaims Atlantic Yards Dead

In what may be one of the worst pieces of news for the embattled Bruce Ratner, his star-architect (or starchitect) Frank Gehry said that the controversial Atlantic Yards development is kaput. Well, he didn't say "kaput" but the answer was just as bad.
Atlantic Yards probablity of being built has diminished for the last year or so and the current state of the economy has helped drive it into the ground for good. Credit is tight, construction costs have risen, but most importantly, the controversy of the development helped keep the project in question just long enough to help quash Ratner's dreams. Now he'll try to build something a lot smaller and less grand, but this is where a competent city government would come in and restore some order. Of course, as long as Marty Markowitz is around that possibility is quite slim.

The Cross Pollinator, Poor poor Atlantic Yards

I’m psyched Gehry used the ‘d’ word as in dead, kaput, no go. I feel empathy towards those who have taken time out of their lives to oppose this corporate monstrosity. I’m happy Bruce Ratner’s ugly anti-democratic concrete monstrosity may not come to pass. I will be thrilled if Mayor Bloomberg takes a black eye on this project.

But it’s not official. And as everybody knows, vampires are really difficult to kill. So let’s hope this slow circling of the toilet will eventually culminate with a flush. The day Bruce Ratner throws in the towel will be a great day.

Plan NYC, Mayor Disappointed by Changes in Atlantic Yards Plans

Mayor Bloomberg says it would be a shame if Atlantic Yards is built without a Frank Gehry designed arena, because litigation delayed the project long enough for economic changes to make the plan unfeasible. However, one critic says the government should have proceeded with caution rather than endorsing assumptions made at the peak of the market. In addition, it is still unclear whether the Gehry design will be used.

Nets Daily, Ratner Denies His Architect’s Claim That Brooklyn “May Not Be Completed”

In an interview published Tuesday, Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry told a writer, “I don’t think it’s going to happen” describing the site of the Nets’ arena as one of two big projects “that are being threatened, and may not be completed”. Later, Bruce Ratner denied the claim, saying “Atlantic Yards will get built”. On Monday, Mayor Bloomberg had told reporters the project may get built “without the Gehry design”

UnBeige, Gehry Gives Up on Atlantic Yards

Continuing with Frank Gehry's worst start to a month in the last little bit, what with the Beekman Tower getting chopped in half and finding new leaks in Ontario, in a section of this interview with The Architects Newspaper, it looks like Gehry has finally come to terms with the "on hold" Atlantic Yards project never being finished....

Queens Crap, Ratner's architect thinks Atlantic Yards won't happen

ArtInfo.com, Atlantic Yards Project Unlikely, Says Gehry

Posted by lumi at 1:37 AM

March 25, 2009

The Gehry Question

From Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn:

Posted by lumi at 6:02 PM

A project may not grow in Brooklyn

Crain's Cleveland Business reports that Atlantic Yards "lead architect" Frank Gehry isn't sure that the project is going to happen and that NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg isn't sure that Gehry will be the architect if it does:

Forest City Ratner Cos.’ big Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is in peril, according to this story in The New York Daily News.

The short Daily News piece is based on an interview that Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry gave to The Architect Newspaper on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
The Daily News says New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg this week suggested the $4.2 billion project — stalled for lack of financing in the recession — still could get built, but on a smaller scale and without Mr. Gehry.


Posted by lumi at 5:41 PM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE — Atlantic Yards Architect Frank Gehry on Atlantic Yards: “I Don’t Think It Is Going to Happen”

World Famous Architect Sounds Like He's No Longer Working on Bruce Ratner's Project

Brooklyn, NY — For the first time Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry has publicly expressed serious doubts about developer Forest City Enterprises’ arena and skyscraper development plan and its viability.

The Architect's Newspaper interviewed Frank Gehry on the occasion of his 80th birthday, and broke the news.

The world-renowned architect was asked, “Which other unrealized commissions do you most wish had been built?”

Mr. Gehry answered, “The Corcoran Gallery in DC, the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn—I don’t think it’s going to happen…”

In the five-plus years since developer Forest City Ratner unveiled his project, with Frank Gehry by his side, the architect has not once wavered in his involvement in the project and belief in the project’s viability.

Now he has.

“While Bruce Ratner's project is a big question mark, it seems clear that Frank Gehry—who was a major selling point for the project, its investors and its naming-rights sponsor Barclays bank—is no longer working on the project. Mr. Gehry would not have made this comment if he were still involved with Atlantic Yards and Forest City Ratner as his client,” said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “Will Barclays pay $400 million for the naming-rights for a cookie-cutter concrete box rather than a landmark, Frank Gehry arena? They signed on for a Gehry arena, so it's very doubtful.”

It has been rumored that Barclays contract has an escape clause if the arena is not designed by Frank Gehry.

Forest City Ratner, a subsidiary of Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprises, has a $400 million naming rights agreement with Barclays bank to build the billion-dollar Barclays Center arena, the proposed new home of the New Jersey Nets. The company bought the Nets in 2003 and had planned to open a new arena in Brooklyn in 2006. The arena’s financing, which faces the global fiscal crisis and credit crunch, is dependent upon the British bank’s lucrative sponsorship.

“Ratner really needs to come clean about Gehry's status with the project,” Goldstein concluded.

Posted by lumi at 5:28 PM


New York Post
by Rich Calder

In an interview with The Architect's Newspaper, Frank Gehry yesterday referred to Bruce Ratner's $4 billion plan to bring an NBA arena and 16 residential-office towers to Prospect Heights as one of several "unrealized commissions" he most wishes had been built.

"I don't think it's going to happen . . . That would be devastating to me," he said.

Ratner said in a statement last night that it is "understandable" that Gehry and "others have concerns about this project happening in the worst economic environment since the Great Depression," but the developer promised "Atlantic Yards will get built."

Gehry later backtracked through a publicist, saying his comments to the trade publication were "misconstrued as a prediction" about the project and that he remains "hopeful it will come to fruition."

A Ratner spokesman yesterday said Gehry was still the project's "lead architect," but opponents of the controversial development said they doubt the architect is still involved because of his remarks about the project.

"If they're saying he is the lead architect, he seems to be leading them nowhere," said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn.


Posted by eric at 10:23 AM

Beekman St. chop shop

Last week, news leaked out that Forest City Ratner might be considering chopping the Frank Gehry-designed Beekman Tower in half, to top out at a mere 38 stories. If this news is true, the "Beekman Tower" probably warrants a name change: Beekman St. Stump, The FiDi Meltdown?

Here's the latest online buzz:

Curbed, Pondering a Glass of Gehry Half Empty in FiDi

The image of the Beekman Tower at right popped up in the Curbed Photo Pool and caught our eye. Writes the FiDi-residing contributor:

There's this gehry tower going up outside our window that I've been tracking. Not that I idolize frank gehry, but I've been excited about it, in large part because the rest of our view is comprised of these horrible horrible federal and municipal buildings.

The news last week was that they're going to stop construction on the tower at the current floor, and that the tower is going to be 38 floors instead of 76. Why? BAD ECONOMY.

So depressing, the resulting building is just going to be a huge, shiny, stumpy thing.

Which, apparently, is worse than a huge, shiny, wavy thing.

Fast Company, Why Starchitect Skyscrapers like Frank Gehry's Beekman Are Getting Chopped

It seems that the Beekman Stump is part of a trend.

Will a stunted economy leave us with stunted cities? Reduced building heights have become an unfortunate reality for a faltering construction industry, as architects are seeing their projects slashed in half, some mid-construction. This week it was announced that Frank Gehry (who's not having the best 80th birthday year so far) will lose the top half of his Beekman Tower, in lower Manhattan.
But Gehry's lucky his building is getting finished at all, short or not. A study published yesterday noted that construction has been halted on 11% of the 1,324 tall skyscraper residential and mixed-used projects around the world as developers scramble to locate the necessary funds to top out their projects.

ArtInfo.com, Construction of Gehry Tower Put on Hold

We're pretty sure that no news organizations actually reported that construction was "put on hold," as the headline suggests, only that a permit has been issued to designate the 38th story as the roof.

Construction of a Frank Gehry tower in lower Manhattan has been put on hold pending an evaluation of costs, Crain's reports.

Half of the Beekman Tower's intended 76 floors have been constructed so far. Developer Forest City Ratner Cos. has indicated that work will proceed on the lower stories, but that for the time being no additional floors will be built. ...
Construction of the Beekman tower began in 2006. In 2008, Forest City Ratner Cos. closed a deal for $680 million in financing for the project. At the time, it was seen as one of the few construction projects in the city to buck the overall real estate slowdown.

Posted by lumi at 5:51 AM

March 24, 2009

Gehry on Atlantic Yards: "I don’t think it’s going to happen" (ask him May 11 in NYC)

Atlantic Yards Report

Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry has finally expressed serious public doubts about Atlantic Yards, which leads to the following questions:

  • how much does he know?
  • what led to his candor?
  • can the Barclays Center be built without him?


While the New York Daily News said Gehry declared the project "dead," he didn't speak with complete certainty, so we should expect a statement soon from developer Forest City Ratner.

After all, Mayor Mike Bloomberg said yesterday that he thought the project could get built without the Gehry design.

If so, the Barclays Center naming rights deal, already under fire because of the AIG connection, might be reconsidered by the bank, since it was signing on to a Gehry arena, not a generic one. That raises major question marks about the developer's capacity to build an arena.

Gehry vs. Ratner

The Daily News probably was correct, however, in observing that "The comment suggests the troubled relationship between Gehry and developer Bruce Ratner is over."

On February 6, I suggested that Gehry wasn't talking about AY because he didn't want to jeopardize his relationship with Ratner, the developer of the Beekman Tower.

Now that the Beekman Tower may be compromised, Gehry may feel more free to talk.


Posted by eric at 10:17 PM

March 11, 2009

Gehry at Eighty

The New Yorker


According to the online abstract of architecture critic Paul Goldberger's coverage of Frank Gehry's 80th birthday party (suscription required), it sounds like the celebrated designer of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards has suspended all work on the arena and highrise megaproject:

Gehry has cut back on the size of his office somewhat, since one of his biggest projects, Atlantic Yards, in Brooklyn, is on hold. “But I have plenty of work,” he said. “I don’t feel like eighty. I guess you never think you’re the age you are, and, as long as you don’t look in the mirror, you aren’t.”


Posted by lumi at 1:51 AM

March 5, 2009

Moisture plagues 'impermeable' gallery

Toronto Globe and Mail
by James Bradshaw

Speaking of Frank Gehry, one upside to his not designing the Atlantic Yards project — should that come to pass — might be a considerable improvement in watertightness.

The new Frank Gehry-designed Art Gallery of Ontario, designed as an impregnable fortress against the harsh Canadian weather, is already showing chinks in its armour. Recent visitors to the newly reopened and much celebrated Toronto gallery have been shocked to find condensation fogging up and streaming down many of its outer windows, while buckets dot its famed Douglas fir central staircase, catching errant drips.

The leaks and condensation problems at the AGO have dredged up memories of a negligence lawsuit that ensnared its architect, Frank Gehry, in late 2007 after another of his designs, at MIT, became cracked, leaky and mouldy. When word of the dispute reached AGO director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum that November, he said he was confident the newly renovated Gallery would be "impermeable" and ready for the challenging weather of downtown Toronto.

A reporter yesterday found three buckets catching water on the central stairway that wriggles its way from the second floor of Walker Court up to the fifth-floor contemporary gallery. One bucket was three quarters full and catching a steady drip. The winding flat banisters were occasionally draped with small towels absorbing drips, and in two places, a small amount of water was pooling on the banisters unattended. A series of seven portable fans were connected by extension cord and strategically placed to try to dissipate some of the condensation, but appeared to be having little effect. And duct tape can be found partially covering the vents below the windows in an attempt to increase the force of the air flowing up from them.

In recent days, the windows of the gallery's two staircases have been so fogged by condensation that they gave only a hazy, impressionistic view of the city outside, and visitors could be seen wiping them with their sleeves to see out.

Mahoney played down the alarm some have felt at stumbling across buckets, towels and duct tape in the city's primary artistic gem, saying such "rebalancing" is routine.

Meanwhile, Gehry has been struggling with more substantial and different problems on other projects. The number of staff at Gehry Partners, which has offices in Paris, Hong Kong and New York, and headquarters in Los Angeles, has been halved over the last year, and two big projects - on Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, and in Brooklyn - have been put on hold as the economy spirals downwards.


NoLandGrab: Note to the AGO — do yourselves a favor and slap some plaques on the buckets, towels and duct tape labeling them "art" created by Mr. Gehry — problem solved.

Posted by eric at 10:56 AM

March 3, 2009

A pensive Gehry turns 80 and reflects on challenging times: "Today, if there's frugality, I'm ready"

The Skyline [ChicagoTribune.com]
by Blair Kamin

Could Frank Gehry be the value engineer Bruce Ratner is looking for?

Frank Gehry, the brilliant architect of Chicago's Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge as well as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, turned 80 last Saturday. My colleague at the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Hawthorne, caught up with Gehry at this vexing time in his career, with his mega-projects such as Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn on hold and his brand of exuberant architecture facing fresh skepticism amid the new frugality.

Gehry has a ready response, saying he could return to the corrugated metal buildings that once made him the king of "cheapskate architecture."

"I'm prepared to do that again, if I have to," he said. "Today, if there's frugality, I'm ready. I'll do corrugated again. It's fun to work that way, and it's easy. Why spend all the money for fancy details and stuff? You don't need it. You can get the passion with simpler things."


Posted by eric at 9:37 AM

Recession Brutalizes Art World, Jeff Koons Doesn’t Seem to Notice


The "Atlantic Yards' failure" couldn't happen to a nicer guy:

Even Frank Gehry is feeling the boom time hangover. In a recent interview on the architect’s 80th birthday, he reported to Christopher Hawthorne that the past year has been full of major disappointment. Not only did his development plan for Los Angeles’ Grand Avenue bottom out, but he had to put his Brooklyn-based Atlantic Yards project on the back burner. We tried to muster sympathy for the starchitect. But, we were too thrilled about the Atlantic Yards’ failure to really feel for him.


Posted by lumi at 4:13 AM

March 2, 2009

Gehry slows but not by choice

Toronto Star
by Martin Knelman

Frank Gehry celebrates his 80th birthday, but the milestone is tinged with melancholy.

Distressingly, two of his favourite projects, huge mixed-use developments on L.A.'s Grand Ave. (near Disney Hall) and at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, have been indefinitely delayed. The climate of sky's-the-limit architectural ambitions, combined with unbounded funding that he did so much to create, has reached a cul-de-sac.

"We've got half as much work as we used to have," he sighs.

Part of the problem is that people think Gehry's buildings cost too much. Whyever would they think that?

"I don't know how to overcome this perception that I'm extravagant. The cost of Disney Hall was only $215 million (U.S.). I'm a leftie and I've always believed in doing things on a modest scale.


NoLandGrab: Yeah, modest. You should've seen the Atlantic Yards plan before Gehry gave it the modesty treatment.

Posted by eric at 12:12 PM

February 28, 2009

Frank Gehry considers an accomplished past and uncertain future

Los Angeles Times
By Christopher Hawthorne, Architecture Critic

This article salutes Frank Gehry as he turns 80, and makes note of his accomplishments. But all is not well in Gehry's psyche as the worsening economic crisis has created a world that seems to have little need of starchitects.

And yet if Gehry now stands atop a mountain he spent much of his career trying to ascend -- driven by a fierce ambition he has often tried to conceal beneath what he calls an "aw, shucks" persona -- he does so at a moment when the mountain is beginning to crumble beneath his feet. After a decade in which a handful of leading architects became global stars -- with Gehry leading the charge -- and private and government clients alike were willing to finance jaw-dropping feats of architectural innovation, funding for new construction has suddenly vanished.

Most distressing of all for Gehry, two projects that he saw as capstones to his career, gigantic mixed-use developments on L.A.'s Grand Avenue and at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, have both been put on hold.

"I've had a disappointing year, couple of years, with Grand Avenue and Brooklyn," he said in a wide-ranging conversation in his office last week in which he was by turns ruminative, weary and hopeful. "All my life I've wanted to do projects like that, and they never came to me. And then all of a sudden I had two of them. I invested the last five years in them, and they're both stopped. So it leaves a very hollow feeling in your bones."


This article has also been noticed by Develop Don't Destroy:

Frank Gehry, The "Little Guy" With the Big Buildings, Says Atlantic Yards Has "Stopped"

DDDB observes that Gehry seems to be off the Atlantic Yards project, despite denials by developer Forest City Ratner. There's also the question of why the architect wants to portray himself as allied with the "little guy" when he sides with the powerful clients like Bruce Ratner.

If Mr. Gehry wants to think of himself as "the little guy," that is quaint. But then, speaking about Atlantic Yards, for example, he shouldn't say things such as this:

...There are some buildings that are background, some that are foreground. Miss Brooklyn (the tallest building), I call my ego trip...

or this:

This is an extraordinary opportunity for an architect like me, I’ve been doing these iconic buildings, like Disney Hall and the Bilbao museum, but not an opportunity like this, to do housing, to do a mixed project and build a whole neighborhood practically from scratch and fit it into an existing fabric and make something special out of it.

Now we're not sure if he is just "the little guy" or also a self-styled "liberal do-gooder" like his boss (former boss?) Bruce Ratner.

Posted by steve at 5:07 PM

February 11, 2009

Gehry Gothic

GehryGothic.jpg Is it just us, or was Frank Gehry's rendering of Bruce Ratner's Beekman St. tower that ran in today's Times inspired by gothic horror films, or perhaps Middle Earth?

It didn't take a Photoshop genius to make the point.

Posted by lumi at 4:46 PM

Gaps in the Times: "Frank Gehry’s Software Keeps [Some] Buildings on Budget"

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder critiques today's Times piece on Frank Gehry and his work on Bruce Ratner's Beekman Tower.

The legendarily press-shy architect Frank Gehry breaks his silence today for a piece of positive explanatory journalism on the real estate page of today's New York Times, headlined Frank Gehry’s Software Keeps Buildings on Budget.

The article, which focuses on the Beekman Tower the architect is designing for developer Forest City Ratner, seems perfectly reasonable on its face. But it serves as another argument that the Times must disclose the parent company's business relationship with the developer.

No such disclosure appears, but a disclosure--one hopes--would've prompted the writer and editors to ask Gehry a challenging question or two, rather than just softballs. The article aims to explain how Gehry's new software helps control costs at the tower; the article ignores the enormous cost increases at the Atlantic Yards project and fails to ask whether Gehry, in fact, continues to actively participate in the design.


NoLandGrab: The Times's half-assed journalism must be wearing Oder down — he let them slide on siting the Atlantic Yards project in "downtown Brooklyn," something we thought the paper had finally (begrudgingly) gotten straight more than two-and-a-half years ago.

Posted by eric at 10:44 AM

Frank Gehry’s Software Keeps Buildings on Budget

The NY Times
By Alec Appelbaum

An article featuring Digital Project, custom design software developed by Frank Gehry's studio and being used for Forest City Ratner's Beekman St. tower, has many details about Gehry's first NYC skyscraper, currently under construction: BeekmanStBW.jpg

When Bruce Ratner hired Frank Gehry in 2004 to design a wrinkled-looking 76-story residential skyscraper in Manhattan near the Brooklyn Bridge, the market for eye-popping luxury condominiums was booming, and the world-class architect’s multimillion-dollar fees probably seemed relatively insignificant. Now, however, the economy is crumbling, the building is envisioned as rental apartments and Mr. Gehry is bringing a more potent tool to control costs than most architects can deliver.

For the Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of Beekman Tower, the project will test the idea that an architect can provide powerful (and expensive) modeling software to help keep costs down. Using the software, fabricators have produced a facade with various textures at a price that Mr. Gehry says does not exceed what a developer would pay to build a conventional boxy building of similar dimensions.

The project, Beekman Tower, which has $680 million in debt and is due to open with 904 apartments in 2010, will be Mr. Gehry’s most important contribution to New York’s skyline. With the building’s distinctly bumpy silhouette, “the idea I was trying to achieve was a fabric, so it would catch the light,” Mr. Gehry said. ...
At Beekman Tower, the pressure on Digital Project is intense. The returns on a rental building are likely to be lower than on a condominium, and committing to Mr. Gehry’s ornate design could burn the developer if it leads to cost overruns.

Of Forest City Ratner’s financing for Beekman Tower, $203.9 million is in tax-exempt Liberty bonds, which Mr. Ratner secured by agreeing to build a public school at the base (Mr. Gehry did not design it) and by directing $6 million to a fund to support affordable housing. The project must repay a $476.1 million loan from a consortium of six international private lenders. The developer says it is current on its debt service.


Posted by lumi at 4:54 AM

February 6, 2009

Why Gehry's not talking

GherySpeak.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

Why has a guy who loves to talk been so silent about Atlantic Yards?

Norman Oder points out that Frank Gehry has nothing to say about the fact that he is no longer working on Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards project because Ratner is still a client:

Architect Frank Gehry, whose role seems to have receded in designing the Atlantic Yards arena, isn't talking, despite reports that he laid off his staff working on the arena.

Why not? Well, he's not about to alienate a client who's still paying him for the Beekman Tower.


Posted by lumi at 5:46 AM

February 3, 2009

Scoop about arena costs poses questions about government approval, assurances; why did Gehry not stay "on budget"?

Atlantic Yards Report

If Atlantic Yards designer Frank Gehry has the technical tools to create accurate budgets and is sensitive to the practical needs of his client and the community, how did the arena cost skyrocket to an astounding $950 million?

Judging by every outward indication, Gehry is probably no longer working on the project, though he's not talking... about the project, the arena costs, nada.

Norman Oder examines Gehry's appearance at a 2005 panel discussion with Charlie Rose, architect Renzo Piano and legendary critic Ada Louise Huxtable for clues.


Posted by lumi at 5:32 AM

January 20, 2009

A Fable for Our Times: Gehry and the Spirit of the Land

Noticing New York

Blogger Michael D. D. White sketches a fable for Frank Gehry, via personal family history, Alexander Hamilton, the Ward Bakery, Bard College and Atlantic Yards. Hope that Frank Gehry and developer Bruce Ratner aren't superstitious.


Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

January 16, 2009

Why Frank Gehry is Brett Yormark's problem (and other FAQs)

Atlantic Yards Report

Today's Atlantic Yards-must-read is Norman Oder's list of questions and possible answers concerning architect Frank Gehry's diminishing role in the project, the political, practical and finanacial implications and this week's sleeper story.

So, what happened with Gehry?

According to two news reports, though without named sources, Gehry laid off his staffers working on Atlantic Yards. (One commenter asserted the staffers were merely shifted.) One report said it was because he hadn't been paid.

Is Gehry off the project?

According to Forest City Ratner, no.

NoLandGrab: When Frank Gehry dismantles a project team, some architects are laid off, while members of his core group of designers are moved to active projects. This means that Atlantic Yards is NO LONGER AN ACTIVE PROJECT at Gehry Partners, LLP.

Forest City Ratner can say anything they want, but the company has hired another engineering firm (NOT FRANK GEHRY) to cut costs.

What may be bigger news this week?

Click here to find out.

Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

January 13, 2009

Gehry still on board for $4bn Brooklyn Atlantic Yards scheme

BD Online
by Arlene Martin

Gehry speaks?!

Frank Gehry has refuted suggestions that he is no longer part of a $4 billion mixed-use project in New York’s Brooklyn district, which was put on hold last month.

But pressure group Don’t Destroy Brooklyn insisted Gehry is no longer part of the Atlantic Yards scheme, which includes an office tower, commercial and residential space, plus a flagship $1 billion stadium for the Nets basketball team.

The group said Gehry had walked off the project after developer Bruce Ratner’s efforts to value-engineer aspects of the development, including the stadium.

“It’s pretty obvious that Ratner is desperate to cut costs and the costs of quality construction materials, and the only way to do this to find a much less expensive architect, one who designs in a less expensive way,” group spokesman Daniel Goldstein told BD.

But a spokesman for the award-winning architect strongly denied the allegation.

“Frank Gehry is proud of his ongoing work with the visionary Atlantic Yards team and remains dedicated to the collective pursuit of a vibrant new urban community in the heart of Brooklyn,” he said.


NoLandGrab: We're having a bit of a hard time believing that the only media inquiry that Gehry Partners has responded to is from a British architecture publication (note the unnamed spokesman).

That said, remaining "dedicated to the collective pursuit of a vibrant new urban community in the heart of Brooklyn" does smack of building a "neighborhood practically from scratch." Of course, if Bruce Ratner hadn't torn down and de-populated the neighborhood that was already there, that wouldn't be an option, would it?

Posted by eric at 11:52 AM

At web sites of engineering and facade firms working on arena, some stale information (and a hint about "value engineering")

Atlantic Yards Report

What the heck is "value engineering" and what does that mean for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan? When the phrase du jour passes Marty Markowitz's lips in a WNYC News Radio interview, it's time for the rest of us to get a clue.

Norman Oder finds a bunch of stale information on the web sites of two firms involved with Atlantic Yards, but gets a primer on how, what and when value engineering is applied to your friendly neighborhood megaproject.

For those wondering about the concept of value engineering, WSP Flack + Kurtz offers its description:

Our philosophy is to identify realistic building system design criteria and the potential costs associated with making those criteria more stringent to determine the potential cost savings associated with relaxing certain criteria.

The firm offers an elaboration, with a warning about timing:

Value Engineering is most effective when it occurs during the conceptualization of a project, when design criteria are established and system concepts are developed to satisfy criteria.

Examples of design criteria and their impact are:

  • Levels of redundancy which impact the quantity and size of equipment and distribution strategies
  • Environmental conditions which affect the size and capacity of central equipment and distribution systems
  • Energy/life cycle performance which affect the cost and perhaps size of the equipment
  • Acoustics which affect construction techniques and materials; etc.

Once prudent and practical design criteria are established, together with appropriate budgetary allowances, the design should be able to be executed which satisfies both the criteria and the budget. The design and budget are then validated at the completion of Schematic Design and Design Development, however, by the end of Design Development, the systems and budget should be well established and fixed.

When "value engineering" occurs at the end of Construction Documents we consider it to be "de-value engineering". At this stage of the design process, there is the least opportunity to optimize the overall design, including architecture, structure, etc.. At this stage changes to systems or concepts usually impose major disruption to the design schedule, and potentially the construction schedule.

With our philosophy, the overall design concepts, including architecture, structure, and MEP, are optimized for the available budget so that the best value is achieved in an integrated fashion for the construction dollars expended. (Emphasis added)

Well, the arena may not have reached the end phase of Construction Documents which describe the design, location, and physical characteristics of building elements needed to convey to the contractor precisely what to build.

However, the arena is surely no longer in the conceptualization phase, when "value engineering" is most helpful, according to the firm.


NoLandGrab: One of the firms included the above image of "Miss Brooklyn" (aka "Building One") from 2006 on its web site.

It's fairly obvious that rendering wasn't released to the press, along with others from this phase of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards designs, because of the vantage point. This is the only rendering that we've seen, of any portion of the project, from street level. The fairly impressive sense of the scale of the building that Gehry once called "my ego trip" would definitely have freaked out more people at the time.

Posted by lumi at 4:51 AM

January 12, 2009

Frank Gehry May Lose Entire Atlantic Yards Project


While Frank Gehry was laying off his staff for the recently put on hold Atlantic Yards project, could he have foreseen that he himself might be leaving as well? Such is the rumored case as developer Bruce Ratner has started looking elsewhere for an architect, likely a less expensive one, to replace Gehry in creating the one part of the project still active: the new stadium for the Nets basketball team. Here's a bit of Ratner's people confirming the rumor by saying that it's not true:

"Frank Gehry has not been removed from the project," said Joe DePlasco, a spokesman for Forest City. "We are continuing to speak with many arena experts and working hard to find ways to build a world class venue in an incredibly difficult economic environment."


Posted by eric at 4:38 PM

January 11, 2009

Marking the end of 'The Bilbao Decade'

The Boston Globe
Robert Campbell

The Bilbao Decade produced some wonderful buildings, but it was a time when the social purposes of architecture were sometimes lost. Architecture is supposed to be about making places for human habitation - rooms, streets, parks, cities - not merely skyline icons or beachfront palaces.

Just as one feels a page turning with the arrival of a new American president, so a page is turning, once again, in the history of architecture.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM

Was the billion-dollar arena a feint? And why isn't Gehry talking?

Atlantic Yards Report

So, why did the cost of the Atlantic Yards arena escalate from $637.2 million in December 2006 to $950 million in March 2008?

Remember, last March, the $950 million figure appeared in the New York Times without explanation. The number, I wrote last December 2, just didn't compute, given that there was no similar announced escalation in the cost of the project as a whole.

Was it simply a consequence of rising construction costs and expensive Frank Gehry details aimed to sell suites and sponsorships? Was it part of an effort to gain even more tax-exempt bonds? Or was there a plan to announce an overambitious arena, with the intention of later cutting back?


Posted by amy at 10:25 AM

January 10, 2009

Atlantic Yards lite is on 'last legs' - foes


NY Daily News

Trimming Frank Gehry's design for the Nets arena at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards will help ensure it gets built, boosters said Friday- but critics say the scaleback is the plan's death knell.

"The project is definitely on its last legs, and the wicked witch is almost dead," Councilwoman Letitia James (WFP-Fort Greene) said after the Daily News reported that developer Bruce Ratner wants to hire "value engineering" firms to trim millions from Gehry's plans.
"Atlantic Yards will happen, with the arena and everything else, and Frank Gehry-inspired for sure, but it may mean that some of the bells and whistles may have to be deferred," Borough President Marty Markowitz said.

"It's prudent to cut costs if you have to cut costs. You do without some of the bells and whistles."


DDDB provided the excellent graphic as well as this commentary:

Are the Councilwoman's comments overstated? Perhaps slightly. Norman Oder thinks so as he gauges the various spins.

But not as overstated as Markowitz's, "Atlantic Yards will happen." How could he be so sure? There is no evidence he can point to to back up his claim. The evidence actually presents itself in favor of James over Markowitz. The developer doesn't have the land, doesn't have the money and doesn't even have the access to some of the money he needs to build his project. And wishful thinking by the BEEP won't get him these things.

Posted by amy at 1:59 PM

Funny story: in "Design by Deception," analysis of megaproject cost overruns, the hero is... Frank Gehry

Atlantic Yards Report

Gehry, in at least one account (but hardly all), is responsible for making sure projects come in on budget. Then again, if that applied to Atlantic Yards, then why did Gehry's Brooklyn arena balloon from $435 million to $637.2 million to $950 million? And why didn't developer Forest City Ratner let Gehry try to deliver the arena on budget instead of (apparently) letting the architect recede? Mysteries remain.

In Design by Deception: The Politics of Megaproject Approval, an article in the Spring/Summer 2005 issue of Harvard Design Magazine, Bent Flyvbjerg described how large construction projects, including public works, defense, and aerospace, around the world inevitably came in way over budget.

He wrote:
Which large projects get built? My research associates and I found it isn't necessarily the best ones, but instead those for which proponents best succeed in designing—deliberately or not—a fantasy world of underestimated costs, overestimated revenues, overvalued local development effects, and underestimated environmental impacts. Project approval in most cases depended on these factors....

Many project proponents don't hesitate to use this approach, even if it means misleading lawmakers, the public, and the media about the true costs and benefits of projects. This results is an inverted Darwinism—an unhealthy "survival of the unfittest"—for large public works and other construction projects.

His analysis sounds a lot like... Atlantic Yards


Posted by amy at 12:31 PM

January 9, 2009

Shifting sands at Atlantic Yards

AtlanticLotsCrop.jpg It seems that every few weeks, Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner has to do pr damage control, as the sands shift under the immense taxpayer-funded boondoggle-slash-largest single-source private development project in NYC history.

In December, the developer insisted that the project was still going forward, even though work had stopped. Now Ratner's pr henchmen are trying to convince reporters that Frank Gehry is still on the project, even though Gehry dismantled the project team just before Thanksgiving.

This morning, Norman Oder references "Atlantic Lots," created by the Municipal Art Society to warn New Yorkers and politicians of the likely future for the project. The most recent news indicates that we are already heading in that direction.

Here are today's headlines:

NY Daily News, Brooklyn Nets Arena cutbacks? Bruce Ratner scales back plans; Star architect Frank Gehry may go

Forest City Ratner has brought in "value engineering" companies to review architect Frank Gehry's blueprints to save money and keep the project afloat amid a cash crunch that has stopped all work at the site, sources said.

A Forest City Ratner spokesman denied rumors that Gehry had been axed.

"Frank Gehry has not been removed from the project," spokesman Joe DePlasco said.

NoLandGrab: "Value engineering" company is code for "less expensive architect." "Gehry has not been removed from the project" sounds like doublespeak for "we didn't quit Gehry, Gehry quit us."

Sources said Ratner is "looking to value engineers to do the arena less expensively and get that dollar amount down...They are looking at the arena from inside-out and upside-down to see how to bring the arena to life less expensively."

Cutting costs could include using less expensive materials, a different configuration or bringing in a different architect to do the project more cheaply, a source said.

"The question is how to deliver the arena that meets the specs and do so in a way that isn't going to cost a billion bucks," the source said.

NLG: Let's pause for a reality check. No arena has EVER been built for the tune of a BILLION DOLLARS. Bruce Ratner has NEVER demonstrated how he was going to defy established pro-sports economics to make it work in the first place. Ratner gets to use the credit crisis as cover for what was inevitable — figuring out how to drive the cost down (or the subsidies up) regardless of the economic climate.

The Wall St. Journal, Developer May Scale Back Plan for Nets' Brooklyn Arena

The Journal hints at the point we just made:

The price tag of other recently developed arenas has been much lower than Mr. Gehry's design. For example, The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, home of the National Hockey League's Devils, cost about $400 million. It opened in 2007.

The business journal also checked in with the ESDC:

A spokesman for New York's Empire State Development Corp., the site manager for the project, said it had little control over the ultimate design of the arena.

"The aesthetic choices are Forest City Ratner's," said Warner Johnston, the ESDC spokesman.

DDDB.net, Who is in Control? ESDC Says They Are Not

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn makes a point about the ESDC's comments to the Journal:

The ESDC actually has control over nearly every aspect of the project; whether it chooses to use its control, rather than leave the steering wheel in the hands of the reckless driving Ratner, is another story.

For now, it seems, they are willing to enable yet another Ratner bait-and-switch: we'll sell you on a Frank Gehry design but won't build you one.

The NY Times, Atlantic Yards Developer Denies Removing Architect

Charles V. Bagli, the lead real estate reporter at the Times, is keeping tabs on the latest developments in the paper's NYC blog.

amNY, More trouble for Atlantic Yards?

Newsday's commuter daily merely cites the Times's blog coverage.

Atlantic Yards Report, As FCR scales back arena cost, Gehry's role recedes; ESDC, which once touted architect, says developer controls aesthetics

Norman Oder wraps up the coverage with some analysis and gives props to Bob Guskind from Gowanus Lounge:

The Gowanus Lounge's Bob Guskind on December 31 was prescient (and I wasn't):

Our prediction: Developer Bruce Ratner will have difficulty obtaining financing for a nearly $1 billion Gehry arena and the arena will either be scraped [sic] or a new version from an off-the-rack firm for $500 million will be built.

Would the arena look more like the Atlantic Lots design produced by the Municipal Art Society than Gehry's latest design? Or would it just look more ordinary, like the Prudential Center in Newark, which cost under $400 million, and is increasingly being suggested as an alternative?

There's another reason behind the "value engineering," I surmise. There's just no way the land underneath the arena could be valued high enough for the foregone taxes to be sufficient to match the PILOTs, or payments in lieu of taxes, needed to pay off a $950 million arena.

Will valuations have to be "jacked up," as with Yankee Stadium, to pay off a $500 million arena? Stay tuned.

Posted by lumi at 5:27 AM

December 20, 2008

Curbed Week in Review: Gehry Layoffs, The Ponz's Epic, General Growth Selling, More



Prospect Heights: Starchitect Frank Gehry laid off two dozen staffers working on the Atlantic Yards job on the day before Thanksgiving and word is they didn't even get severance pay. Word also is that developer Bruce Ratner was paying the bills for revisions to the project.

NoLandGrab: One Curbed commenter noticed that Gehry and Madoff have more in common than just having a bad week...they might actually be "separated at birth."

Posted by amy at 4:22 PM

It Was Fun Till the Money Ran Out

NY Times

WHO knew a year ago that we were nearing the end of one of the most delirious eras in modern architectural history? What’s more, who would have predicted that this turnaround, brought about by the biggest economic crisis in a half-century, would be met in some corners with a guilty sense of relief?

Before the financial cataclysm, the profession seemed to be in the midst of a major renaissance. Architects like Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, and Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, once deemed too radical for the mainstream, were celebrated as major cultural figures. And not just by high-minded cultural institutions; they were courted by developers who once scorned those talents as pretentious airheads.

Firms like Forest City Ratner and the Related Companies, which once worked exclusively with corporations that were more adept at handling big budgets than at architectural innovation, seized on these innovators as part of a shrewd business strategy. The architect’s prestige would not only win over discerning consumers but also persuade planning boards to accede to large-scale urban projects like, say, Mr. Gehry’s Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

But somewhere along the way that fantasy took a wrong turn. As commissions multiplied for luxury residential high-rises, high-end boutiques and corporate offices in cities like London, Tokyo and Dubai, more socially conscious projects rarely materialized. Public housing, a staple of 20th-century Modernism, was nowhere on the agenda. Nor were schools, hospitals or public infrastructure. Serious architecture was beginning to look like a service for the rich, like private jets and spa treatments.

Atlantic Yards Report points out that Ouroussoff "doesn't mention Atlantic Yards, which, though mostly luxury housing, would contain a considerable amount of subsidized housing--albeit much not accessible to the average Brooklyn household."

Posted by amy at 4:17 PM

December 19, 2008

Strike Two? Not So Fast

The Architect's Newspaper Blog
By Matt Chaban

First Laurie Olin, now Frank Gehry. That was the news earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal reported that the Santa Monica-based architect had laid off “more than two dozen” staffers involved with Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project. What followed was a string of cheers predicting the troubled Brooklyn mega-development’s demise. After all, how could it go on without its signature starchitecture?

The point is that, while the layoffs could be another possible death knell for Atlantic Yards, they could also simply be the economizing of one of many architects in dire straights at the moment. Were Gehry forced to fire some employees, why not look to the project that is on hold? In other words, there are greater forces at work here, so don’t necessarily read too much into any layoffs.

That is, of course, assuming the designs are finished and ready to go and the architect and developer are still on good terms, both of which the Daily News called into question today.


NoLandGrab: Fair enough; even though developer Bruce Ratner and designer Frank Gehry are acting like the project is dead, Atlantic Yards could just be in a coma and you'd have to be a trained professional examining the actual patient to know the difference.

Posted by lumi at 4:43 AM

Would Gehry's staffers come back after the credit markets unfreeze?

Atlantic Yards Report

The Architect's Newspaper warns against reading too much into Frank Gehry's laying off staff members working on the Atlantic Yards project.

AN's Matt Chaban quotes Kermit Baker: "What we’re seeing, as a result of the credit freeze, is a lot of projects, even a lot of good projects, being put on hold. Once the credit markets begin to unfreeze, though, a lot of this work will come back."

Baker was not speaking directly about AY, but Chaban suggests that situation could apply.

That's plausible. Then again, Forest City Ratner could have been a lot more enthusiastic in talking about the issue. Why not say Gehry's on sabbatical?

Chaban also warns not to read much into Gehry's unwillingness to comment, calling it par for the course.


Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

December 18, 2008

Mr. Gehry Maybe Didn't Get Paid For Everything By Mr. Bruce


It's got to suck worse than a damned Electrolux being the world's most famous starchitect, having your name dragged through the mud over a controversial project at the apex of your career and, then, maybe not getting paid for all your work. The possible de-Frank Gehryfication of Atlantic Yards continues with some additional details on yesterday's bombshell supplied by Jotham Sederstrom in today's Daily News.


Posted by eric at 11:48 AM

More Yards turmoil — Gehry lays off design team!

The Brooklyn Paper
by Sarah Portlock

Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry has reportedly laid off more than two dozen workers on the mega-project’s team, indicating that perhaps the project is more doomed than previously thought.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Yards developer Bruce Ratner, who is building the $4-billion, oft-delayed project, ordered Gehry to “put down his pencils” in late November.

And on Thursday, the New York Daily News suggested that the layoffs amounted to a complete shutdown of Gehry’s Atlantic Yards team.


Posted by eric at 11:20 AM

Daily News: layoffs may signal rift between Gehry and Ratner

Atlantic Yards Report

While the Wall Street Journal two days ago reported that Gehry had dropped all his staffers working on the project, in an article today headlined Architect drops ax on Yards staff, the Daily News suggests that the layoff of some two dozen workers wasn't quite amicable:
"Almost all the people working on the Brooklyn project got laid off," said a source familiar with the cuts who claimed the developer had refused to pay Gehry additional costs for design revisions. "Basically, he's not willing to pay."

That suggests the effect of limited cash flow, not the all-purpose excuse of litigation, for which Forest City has blamed the work stoppage at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

No one's talking

A Forest City Ratner spokesman wouldn't discuss the issue--DDDB has been pointing to the developer's unfulfilled promises of transparency--nor would anyone from Gehry's office, which led the Daily News to conclude:
It was unclear yesterday whether the relationship between Ratner and Gehry was over or merely put on hold because of the economy.


NoLandGrab: Frank Gehry may have been excited to "build a neighborhood practically from scratch," but not if he's not getting any more scratch from Bruce Ratner.

Posted by eric at 10:42 AM

Architect drops ax on Yards staff

NY Daily News
by Jotham Sederstrom

In yet another slap against developer Forest City Ratner, architect Frank Gehry has axed nearly every employee working on the stalled Atlantic Yards project, sources told the Daily News.

Although designs for an NBA basketball arena and five towers were first released in 2003 and redrafted this year, a second phase featuring 11 towers, affordable housing and public space has not been finalized.

A Forest City Ratner spokesman acknowledged that some designs had yet to be completed, but declined to discuss the layoffs or how they would affect the project.

"The answer is yes, of course there is design work left to be done, and, no, there are no new images to release," said Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco.


NoLandGrab: That's about the straightest comment we've heard yet from JDP, though it's the questions he wouldn't address that are more telling.

Posted by eric at 10:34 AM

December 17, 2008

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: Frank Gehry Lays Off Atlantic Yards Staff

Ratner Seeking More Favors from City, MTA and Private Lenders For Failing Atlantic Yards Plan

BROOKLYN, NY— Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development plan is contending with pending litigation as well as the global fiscal crisis and credit crunch. After confirming two weeks ago that all work has stopped on the Atlantic Yards project site, and last week that the project is indefinitely on hold, now Ratner can add the absence of architects to design the beleaguered megaproject to its list of woes.

Ratner’s world-renowned Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry has laid off all staff working on the Atlantic Yards plan, according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal. Gehry laid off more than “two dozen staffers” despite the fact the most of the proposed project has not been designed.

Meanwhile, The New York Observer’s Eliot Brown confirms that Ratner’s project is experiencing substantial cash flow problems and breaks the news that Ratner is “…attempting to cobble together extra money; trying to speed up tens of millions of dollars it is owed by public entities; delay tens of millions in payments it owes to both the public and private sectors; and tack on new subsidy programs for the housing piece of the project.”

“Ratner doesn’t have the architect, money or land he needs to build his planned Atlantic Yards project. The project has been miserably managed and is on the edge of failure. So now Ratner wants the budget-slashing State, the budget-slashing City and the fare-raising MTA to grant him yet more favors? Sorry, but that doesn’t fly,” said Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein. “It really is high time for the Paterson and Bloomberg administrations, and the MTA, to face the facts of Ratner’s failing project and stop funding his money pit while asking everyone else around the City and State to sacrifice during this fiscal crisis.

Ratner’s seemingly desperate attempt to have the City and State further favor and cater to him includes an effort to get the cash-strapped MTA to restructure the $100 million dollar deal for the Vanderbilt Rail Yard (8-acres of the 22-acre project site) so Ratner doesn’t have to pay up front because, The Observer reports, “financing is nearly impossible to find and Forest City is hardly swimming in cash.” This attempt to delay payment is even though the $100 million is already well below the MTA’s $214.5 million appraisal of the rail yard.

Ratner also wants the City to speed “up the payments on the balance” of the $100 million in its direct taxpayer subsidy (which is only part of the City’s $205 million direct subsidy and does not include the City’s blank check for “extraordinary infrastructure”).

And in the private market Ratner is trying to renegotiate and extend a large bridge loan with Gramercy Capital, which comes due in February. The Wall Street Journal reports that the $153 million loan has accrued to $177 million owed.

Ratner does not own the land he needs to build his proposed arena and superblock skyscrapers, and he does not have the financing to build any part of the project. The status of the two pending lawsuits challenging the project’s environmental review, “blight” finding, and use of eminent domain, can be found at: www.dddb.net/php/status.php


The community in Brooklyn has advocated for developing the rail yard in a fiscally responsible manner, which is described in the community developed UNITY Plan, which has been presented to Governor Paterson's economic development officials. The UNITY Plan is based on the principle that the MTA should divide the rail yards into multiple, manageable parcels that can be put out for bid and bring more revenue to the MTA. The smaller parcels reduce the risk inherent in Ratner's massive project by spreading it amongst multiple developers. Then the yard can actually be developed and badly needed affordable housing could be realized.

Posted by eric at 12:46 PM

WSJ: Gehry lays off staff working on Atlantic Yards; FCR again blames legal challenges

Atlantic Yards Report

[F]or weeks I've been told--all secondhand--that the Los Angeles-based Gehry Partners laid off staff working on the Atlantic Yards project.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal pinned it down enough to go public, in a brief piece headlined Gehry Lays Off Staff:

Frank Gehry laid off more than two dozen staffers in late November after client Forest City Ratner ordered the architect to put down his pencils on the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project, according to people familiar with the matter. A Gehry Partners LLP spokeswoman declined to comment.

A Forest City spokesman declined to comment and pointed to a previous statement that said work on the Brooklyn, N.Y., project was delayed because of legal challenges. Forest City has said it is committed to the 22-acre site, slated to be anchored by a basketball arena plus residential and office skyscrapers.

The blame-the-lawsuits ploy regarding Gehry is even less credible than the claim that lawsuits have stalled all work at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Vanderbilt Yard.

After all, if Forest City Ratner is truly committed to Atlantic Yards, couldn't they ask Gehry's office to work on Site 5? Or Phase 2?


Posted by lumi at 5:54 AM

December 16, 2008

Gehry Lays Off Staff

Wall St. Journal Blogs
By Alex Frangos and Jonathan Karp

WSJ is breaking the story that architect Frank Gehry disbanded the Atlantic Yards project team:

Frank Gehry laid off more than two dozen staffers in late November after client Forest City Ratner ordered the architect to put down his pencils on the $4 billion Atlantic Yards project, according to people familiar with the matter. A Gehry Partners LLP spokeswoman declined to comment.

A Forest City spokesman declined to comment and pointed to a previous statement that said work on the Brooklyn, N.Y., project was delayed because of legal challenges. Forest City has said it is committed to the 22-acre site, slated to be anchored by a basketball arena plus residential and office skyscrapers.

Forest City Ratner's parent, Forest City Enterprises Inc., said last week that it has cut off its new development pipeline, except for Atlantic Yards. But the project faces challenges given the recession and the financial markets. A $153 million land loan from Gramercy Capital Corp. that has accrued to $177 million, is due at the beginning of February. Forest City is in talks with Gramercy to extend the loan.


NoLandGrab: Ratner's PR team has lost a step, when the best they can come up with is the "legal challenges" excuse. Dumbasses, there's a half-demolished bridge over the railyards that will have to be rebuilt whether or not the project is stopped by a lawsuit.

The dismantling of the Atlantic Yards design team, in addition to the halt of prep work on the railyards and difficulty in raising credit means that realistically the project is on hiatus, in a deep sleep... or cryogenically frozen.

Posted by lumi at 8:05 PM

November 7, 2008

King Alfred plans are killed off

The Argus


The high-profile Frank Gehry-designed development project in Hove, England, has been given the heave-ho, a victim of world economic turmoil.

The £290 million King Alfred development is dead.

The Frank Gehry designed scheme planned for the Hove seafront was declared “finished” tonight by the man behind the project.

It comes after years of argument over whether the bold towers would either revitalise the city or become a blot on the landscape.

Without a financial backer, the development agreement signed in November 2004 is expected to expire at midnight on Sunday, leaving Frank Gehry’s first project in England dead in the water.

The scheme, which included the construction of 751 homes in 11 buildings of up to 98 metres high, was thrown into doubt in July when Dutch bank ING withdrew its financial support because falling house prices no longer made it financially viable.


Posted by eric at 4:54 PM

November 1, 2008

Israeli court OKs Museum of Tolerance's controversial branch


Los Angeles Times
Mike Boehm

Frank Gehry digs himself into another hole, but this time there are bodies in it:

A Frank Gehry-designed museum can rise in Jerusalem on a site that was once a Muslim cemetery, Israel's Supreme Court ruled today, clearing the way for L.A.'s Simon Wiesenthal Center to build a Holy Land counterpart to its Museum of Tolerance on Pico Boulevard.

The $250-million project had been delayed since early 2006, when builders unearthed bones. Arab leaders in Israel sued to stop the project and were supported, in an unusual alliance, by some ultra-Orthodox Jews with firm beliefs against disturbing graves.

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Wiesenthal Center, said in a statement Wednesday that "moderation and tolerance have prevailed." But Zahi Nujidat, a spokesman for the Israeli Islamic movement, decried the ruling as "clear religious and ethnic oppression," according to the Associated Press.


Posted by amy at 10:19 AM

October 26, 2008

Architecture can focus on L.A.'s shared spaces

Los Angeles Times
by Christopher Hawthorne

The Architecture Critic for the Los Angeles Times looks at how the current economic situation spells the end of the mega project and the beginning of another direction for architecture. Atlantic Yards is included in the list of endangered projects.

For the last several years, conventional wisdom has been gathering behind the idea that the world's most innovative architectural projects would also, increasingly, be among the very biggest. Norman Foster in Moscow. Rem Koolhaas in Beijing. Frank Gehry on Grand Avenue and at the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

But a one-two punch from the faltering economy and the credit crisis is threatening to bring XL architecture to its knees, perhaps putting an end to the age of the mega-project before it ever really got going. Gehry will be lucky if his huge projects are built in piecemeal, slimmed-down form. China seems unlikely in the near term to produce a new crop of buildings to rival its 2008 Olympics class. Last week, Bloomberg News reported that Dubai was scrambling to line up fresh loans to keep its building spree from collapsing. If the leading member of the United Arab Emirates is feeling cash-strapped, it's hard to see the picture looking rosy any time soon.


Posted by steve at 7:32 AM

October 24, 2008

THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Oct. 18-24: Down They Go

by Robert Simonson

Frank Gehry gets bad notices from Playbill.

And here's the kicker: the Signature space will be designed by Frank Gehry. Gehry's sort of like the kiss of death in New York; whenever anybody announces he's going to build something in the city, it doesn't happen. (e.g. the Miss Brooklyn tower in Atlantic Yards; the downtown Guggenheim). Perhaps Manhattan will now finally get a Gehry creation that isn't a cafeteria that only Conde Nast employees can get into.


NoLandGrab: "In Atlantic Yards?" We might've accepted "at," but the fact is, "Atlantic Yards" is still no more real than a theater backdrop.

Posted by eric at 10:34 PM

October 20, 2008

Brooklyn's Top 50 Most Influential No. 41 - 50


Every day this week, we're going to count down Brooklyn's Top 50* most influential people in shaping Brooklyn neighborhoods — by building new structures, preserving older ones, influencing property values and quality of life, speaking for thousands, or changing the course of developments, for example. Instead of listing everyone from Bloomberg to Bernanke, we mostly stuck with locals. Surprisingly still, by broadening our definition of influence beyond quantitative factors like real estate holdings and constituency, the toughest task was keeping the list down to only 50 (*so we cheated, there's actually more like 65 people on the list, and it was still hard). Ranking them in order was also tough, so please take the whole exercise with a grain of salt and sense of humor. In some cases we considered the type of entity the person represents, the potential impact of the project he or she is working on, and the extent of influence over time, distance and the number of Brooklynites affected. By all means, feel free to give us your two cents in the comments section. By the end of this week, we could have 200 people on the list!

50. Developer Bruce Ratner's choice of legendary starchitect Frank Gehry to design Atlantic Yards helped galvanize support for the massive project, versus if he had chosen a blander designer, as stunning architecture can have an elevating effect on a community. But Gehry's vision has also been hotly criticized as offensive to the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods. No matter, Atlantic Yards hasn't been built yet, and Gehry was recently ousted from BAM's Theater for a New Audience design team. If he ever does get something built here, he'll be in the top 20 for sure.


Posted by eric at 11:31 AM

October 11, 2008

Hermann Park: a landscape jewel


White-haired and charming, Olin excels at both sides of his business. In courting Brooklynites suspicious of the Atlantic Yards development, it's usually Olin who takes the lead, not his frequent collaborator, Frank Gehry. Gehry is perhaps the most famous architect in the world, but at public forums on the project, he mainly sits quiet. Olin does the talking.

NoLandGrab: We must have missed all these forums...or maybe they are just "forums of the mind." Or maybe the author is confusing Olin with another white-haired charmer...

Posted by amy at 9:02 AM

October 4, 2008

Frank Gehry: Columbo, Dirty Harry, or Frank Abagnale?


Atlantic Yards Report tries to match Gehry with his celebrity twin:

Gehry, whose reputation is taking a bit of a turn south, as the Canadian magazine MacLean's recently reported, is neither Columbo nor Dirty Harry when it comes to Atlantic Yards.

While he surely is laboring to create an innovative basketball arena, his willingness to produce renderings that do not merely obscure but actively deceive suggests aspects of Frank Abagnale, the legendary con man in the film Catch Me If You Can.

Remember, Building 1, when known as Miss Brooklyn, was to be three times the size, in square footage, as the iconic Williamsburgh Savings Bank. However, a Gehry rendering, bizarrely tilting the bank as if to crash on the hapless maiden, portrayed it as a behemoth. (Now Building 1 would be about twice the bulk of the bank building.)

"If I think it got out of whack with my own principles, I’d walk away," Gehry said of Atlantic Yards, during a January 2006 appearance in New York. Given that he hasn't walked away, Gehry should be pressed on how exactly deceptive renderings comport with his principles. After all, Abagnale eventually went straight.


Posted by amy at 10:15 AM

October 1, 2008

Frank Gehry's really bad year

For years the architect has been lauded for ushering in a new cultural era. But the climate appears to be shifting.

By Nancy MacDonald

As starchitect Frank Gehry's reputation begins to sour, he has "become a lightning rod for criticism of developer Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards development."

There's a "culture of affirmation that surrounds Gehry," says the well-known art critic and Princeton professor Hal Foster. "The same buildings that leak, burn and moulder would cost any other architect their job and reputation," says one Manhattan-based critic, who asked to remain anonymous. Yet "major newspapers, art critics and museums" continue to "hold Gehry up," he says.
The climate, however, appears to be shifting. This summer, The Economist dubbed Gehry "the one-trick pony's one-trick pony," who "merely plonks down the same lump of product time and again across the globe." His notoriously costly and resource-heavy designs seem increasingly vulgar, given heightened environmental concerns and the softening economy. Indeed, the focus of the profession has turned to green or sustainable design, says Jeffrey Ochsner, professor of architecture at the University of Washington.
Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn, Gehry is dealing with far worse than a lost theatre contract.
"Gehry has taken a big risk," says urban historian Witold Rybczynski. "It is a very big project. And it is in New York, where all the media are. If that project goes bad, it would tarnish his reputation. Instead of being a capstone, it would be a blot on his career."


Posted by lumi at 6:21 AM

September 29, 2008

Developer unveils Gehry-designed development

by Paul Foy

A developer of a Frank Gehry-designed "community from scratch" who actually admits he can't raise the money to do the project? Nope, it's not Bruce Ratner, who's still in denial, claiming a December groundbreaking in the face of much evidence to the contrary.

A developer unveiled a scale model Wednesday for a Frank Gehry-designed "masterpiece" community but acknowledged he would have a difficult time raising billions of dollars for the project.

"I expect the financial markets will soften and things will get better," said [developer Brandt] Andersen, a 31-year-old software entrepreneur who started uSight while still a student at Brigham Young University. He sold the company in 2004 and turned to real-estate development.

Andersen said he hopes to get started on The Point in two or three years along Interstate-15 about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The Point development differs from Atlantic Yards in that it would be built on an 85-acre parcel on which nothing other than nature previously existed. But Frank Gehry seems to be reading from the same script.

"It's a community from scratch that has everything that a community needs, on a gorgeous site in a great part of the world."

"We're not going to do these things just for the glory or PR. We're going to do things that are real," Gehry said. "It's not just phony-baloney."


Posted by eric at 1:00 PM

September 24, 2008

The Lightning Rod

Gotham Magazine
by Kathryn Wilson

No, it's not Alex Rodriguez (who's called "The Lightning Rod" by WFAN's Steve Somers) being fawned over by glossy magalog Gotham, it's everyone's favorite starchitect, Frank O. Gehry.

“People think I crumple up paper and that’s the design, which is just the opposite of what I do,” says Gehry. “You see Gene Kelly in Singin’ in the Rain and it looks effortless. The guy practiced six hours a day! It’s the same here.”

article [PDF]

Posted by eric at 12:30 PM

September 22, 2008

Dancers on a hot Gehry roof

The Times of London
by Tony Allen-Mills

Noémie Lafrance, a Canadian choreographer, is staging dance performances on the roofs of titanium-clad buildings designed by you know who.

One of the world’s best-known modern architects has found a new use for the shimmering steel buildings that he has turned into landmarks in cities around the world. Frank Gehry, renowned for sculptural masterpieces such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, wants his undulating silver roofs to become aerial dance floors.

This week, at one of Gehry’s most dramatic constructions, dancers will mix ballet with bungee-jumping as they leap across the scalloped domes of an auditorium at Bard college in Annandale-on-Hudson, 90 miles north of New York.

The performance is the first in a series of rooftop spectaculars that may ultimately be performed at nine different Gehry buildings in America and Europe, among them the Bilbao museum and the Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles.

As with most every Gehry project, however, there have been unforeseen problems.

The dancers wear wrestling shoes, which were found to have the best grip, but rehearsals still proved impossible at midday because of the force of the sun glinting off Gehry’s reflective steel panels.


NoLandGrab: Gehry's buildings might best be put to use by the Food Channel, with Rachael Ray frying eggs or Bobby Flay grilling a steak on the sizzling metal siding.

Posted by eric at 9:07 AM

September 9, 2008

Critic Rybczynski: Gehry is challenged to adapt style to large project

Atlantic Yards Report

The article's two years old, but it only surfaced recently in full text, so it's worth considering architecture critic Witold Rybczynski's cautions about using starchitects like Frank Gehry--especially since, as Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn reminded us yesterday, the latest version of Forest City Ratner's plans show only buildings in Phase 1. (I reported in May how the latest renderings were significantly less ambitious than their predecessors.)

The article, headlined Architectural Branding, was first published in Fall 2006 issue of the Wharton Real Estate Review, excerpted in Slate, and republished in the Summer 2008 issue of Appraisal Institute's Appraisal Journal, Summer 2008.

[article link from customhomeonline.com]

Regarding Gehry, he writes:

Frank Gehry has perhaps the strongest architectural franchise in the world today. Although he has built a number of small commercial projects in Prague, Berlin, and Boston, he is chiefly known for his cultural monuments, notably the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The Gehry brand is unmistakable: whimsical, sculptural, quirky buildings that don't look like buildings (and, incidentally, are difficult and expensive to build). It will be a challenge to successfully adapt Gehry's approach to a large commercial development, such as the ones that he is planning for Brooklyn and downtown Los Angeles.

Atlantic Yards would be less a commercial development than a residential one, but it would be a megaproject.

NoLandGrab: Then again, Atlantic Yards, with the challenges of design, scale and technology, is more a commercial development than, say, a single-family home, which is most often associated with residential commissions.

Though Rybczynski cautions that "branding" doesn't insure success, Norman Oder notes that, "Gehry also was helpful to developer Forest City Ratner in influencing public opinion about Atlantic Yards, thus tamping down potential opposition and getting some supporters on board."


Posted by lumi at 4:02 AM

A Way of Saying "Here I Am": Perspecta 40 Interviews Kevin Roche


In November 2006, the editors of Perspecta 40 Monster interviewed Kevin Roche at his offices in Hamden, Connecticut. We were initially drawn to the work of Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates—in particular the firm's heroic projects of the late 1960s through 1970s—by the bold, rational manner in which these projects addressed scale.
[Perspecta 40]: In the case of the Interstate Highway, you mentioned cost-effectiveness as one driving mechanism that can help steer the actual form or materials being employed. I wonder if you see anything today, in current work, which is a mechanism that architects like yourself or others are employing in their work to achieve large-scale projects.

[Kevin Roche]: That is a very good question. I guess probably Frank Gehry is a good example of a person dealing with very large-scale projects such as the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. It is a very, very tough problem. How do you deal with the underlying drive to provide as much possible rental space—which is the reason the project is being built—and at the same time do that in a way that is sympathetic to the community, the urban design, and the humanist aspects of it. It will be interesting to see how that develops; it will be interesting to see how it will be experienced. Certainly he has shown his genius at providing these forms that become interesting.

It is another way of saying "Here I am." When you see this distortion of the rectilinear form into something else, it immediately arrests your attention. It is not the same old cube. It is a twist of a cube, or a bent cube, or a broken cube, an exploded cube or something else and so your attention is immediately attracted to it. You never get the message across unless you wake people up. People don't see architecture. Most people are only peripherally aware of architecture. They don't see any of the details of architecture that we worry so much about. Their preoccupations generally are elsewhere.


NoLandGrab: Most "people don't see architecture" because they are too busy experiencing it. Though Gehry has proven himself to be a masterful designer, he has been frequently criticized for overlooking, or glossing over, the context of his projects. Unfortunately for Gehry and Brooklynites, scale and context are related and the issues only become more complex for megaprojects, that is, unless they're put on the back burner.

Posted by lumi at 3:45 AM

August 29, 2008

It came from the Blogosphere...

"Atlantic Yards" Voter Guide, Silver Tarnishes Dem Convention

AY Voter Guide tells us what he or she really thinks about Sheldon Silver:

What a great historic night it was last night. Officially nominating the first African-American Presidential nominee....

It was only tarnished by one thing: The corrupt Assembly Speaker Silver introducing Senator Hillary Clinton so she could put an end the roll call vote.

Silver stands for pay to play cronyism and consolidation of top down power so anathema to soon to be President-elect Obama's message, one can only hope that the whiff of corruption dissipates in the thin Denver air before the party leaves the city.

Brownstoner, Modernism in the City/Gehry in Brooklyn

In Lisa's preview of a review of Nathan Glazer's book on the problem with starchitects, the example of Frank Gehry's design for Atlantic Yards stuck out:

Gehry may have been ousted from the Theater for a New Audience building, but his vision for Atlantic Yards, which, no matter your opinion of it, seems pretty noncontextual considering the neighborhoods around it, remains.

life in the sonic age, Democracy and the truth…
Ken Lowy commends Dan Squadron for challenging incumbent Marty Connor and for not hitting below the belt, but wonders if everything is above board, especially when Squadron's candidacy is supported by the Atlantic Yards power base:

Squardon has come out and stated clearly that he is against apartments in Brooklyn Bridge Park. That’s good news. But it makes me wonder why people like Anthony Weiner and Mike Bloomberg have endorsed him. They are on the record as having no problem with apartments in the park. And then there’s the Atlantic Yards project. I don’t know where Dan Squadron stands on the Atlantic Yards Project (I’ve heard through the grapevine that he is against the project). But when I searched I couldn’t find anything on his web site. We know where his supporters stand. Weiner, Bloomberg and Schumer are for it. So what are we to think?

Runnin' Scared, Making Local Politics Marginally Less Dull (Updated)

We commend Atlantic Yards Report for taking a portion of the transcript from last Saturday's* environmental-impact hearing on the proposed development and presenting it as a dramatic text with "echoes of absurdist playwright Samuel Beckett."

UPDATE. *By which we mean, two years ago, August 23, 2006, which means this dialogue is now a period piece.

Posted by lumi at 5:51 AM

August 22, 2008

Gehry Out as Architect of Theater in Brooklyn

The New York Times
by Robin Pogrebin

Sure, we were hoping to see something other than "Theater" in that headline, but this is an interesting story nonetheless.

The architect Frank Gehry will no longer be a part of the project to build a permanent home for the Theater for a New Audience in the BAM Cultural District in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, the theater’s founder said Thursday. But the announcement came as a surprise to Mr. Gehry, who said he wasn’t told of the change.

Mr. Gehry had collaborated with Hugh Hardy on the theater building’s initial design. Now Mr. Hardy will be the sole architect on the project, according to the theater.

There seems to be a little confusion, however, as to whether Mr. Gehry bailed, or was pushed out.

“Frank Gehry has said to us, ‘I’m sorry that I have to withdraw, but I’m a great fan of Hugh’s, and Theater for a New Audience is going to have a terrific theater.’ ”

But reached by phone on Thursday, Mr. Gehry said his exclusion from the project was news to him. “I didn’t even know they were starting over again,” he said. “I suppose they didn’t need two of us.”

“He’s quite adequate for the job without me,” Mr. Gehry added, referring to Mr. Hardy. “I would guess there are financial reasons for this.”

In response to the architect’s comments, the theater provided The New York Times with a copy of its correspondence with Mr. Gehry’s assistant, in which the architect was said to have approved the language in the theater’s statement. “Frank told me he was too busy and was unable to continue with the project and that he had to withdraw,” Mr. Horowitz said in a telephone interview. “We respected his wishes.”


Posted by eric at 10:24 AM

August 10, 2008

Warnings about "the architect as artist" and Gehry's victimization of Brooklyn


Atlantic Yards Report reviews "Fort Greene-based critic Charles Taylor's essay in Dissent, headlined A Wrench in the Machine for Living: Frank Gehry Comes to Brooklyn, is notable in that it connects Glazer's critique directly to Atlantic Yards, just as Glazer has done so in public presentations, albeit not in the text."

Taylor suggests such vision is enabled by starchitect-defending critics like Nicolai Ouroussoff of the New York Times, who wrote 12/16/07, in an essay headlined Let the ‘Starchitects’ Work All the Angles :
Architects have no control over a development’s scale or density. Nor do they control the underlying social and economic realities that shape it.

Taylor calls that "horse puckey," arguing that, when an architect like Gehry "signs on to an immense public development, as Frank Gehry has to Forest City Ratner’s gargantuan Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, he not only gives concrete expression to how the scale and density might be realized, thus having the most direct impact on “underlying social and economic realities,” his imprimatur gives the project the weight of cultural edification."

It's not quite a public development, but rather a public-private one. But Taylor's point is sound. As Brooklyn Views blogger Jonathan Cohn (an architect) wrote 5/21/06 in a piece headlined It's The Scale, Stupid, while the architect does not decide the size of the project, "there is a danger in being hoisted by the developer's petard when taking on a project that is seriously flawed in its conception."

And I pointed out that Ourousoff fails to acknowledge that starchitects, by virtue of their fame, may in fact have some power, and that the public's capacity for discernment is aided or hindered by the effort by the starchitect's clients to survive what he calls "an often tricky public review process."


Posted by amy at 10:42 AM

August 2, 2008

News Highlights of the Week: July 26 – August 1, 2008

Architectural Record
Jenna M. McKnight and Alanna Malone

In mid-July, Frank Gehry pulled out of his first major venture in England: King Alfred Development, a seafront mixed-use project in Brighton that has been mired in controversy since it was unveiled. Now, the developer, Karis, says the Canadian-born architect is considering getting back on board, according to The Architects’ Journal. Karis managing director Josh Arghiros told the UK-based publication that he thinks Gehry would consider returning for the chance to “tweak it the way he would want it to be.” His statement came a day after Dutch Bank INC, the project’s main investor, pulled its support—an announcement that prompted World Architecture News to declare that the “King Alfred Project is dead.” The half-billion-dollar project has encountered fierce resistance from the get-go, much like Gehry’s Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn (RECORD, May 2008). It remains to be seen whether Karis will be able to secure the necessary funding before the King Alfred Development becomes a lost cause.


Posted by amy at 9:40 AM

July 25, 2008

In downtown Anaheim, the false promises accompanying Gehry's (nice) ice rink

Atlantic Yards Report

There's no doubt that Norman Oder is the ultimate Atlantic Yards tourist. This month he paid a visit to the Frank Gehry-designed practice facility for the Anaheim Ducks and filed a report.


It's not directly related to Atlantic Yards, but a look at Frank Gehry’s ice rink in Anaheim, CA, originally dubbed Disney Ice and now called Anaheim Ice, offers a cautionary tale about promises made for ambitious architecture.

Notably, the structure, when it opened in 1995, did not contain some of the Gehryesque elements announced, it did not prompt the redevelopment of nearby parcels, and, counter to the expectations of its builders, it did not spawn a national effort to teach inner-city youths ice hockey.
Notably, the Times review was written when the building was about to go into construction, not after it opened and was used. Thus Muschamp could gush about the building as a piece of sculpture, not a messy, living thing with blank walls backing into a major avenue, though years later, as the photo shows, there's a new development (at right in picture) bordering the rink.

Similarly, he could proclaim, improbably at the time and incredibly in retrospect--that the Atlantic Yards arena, as designed, would be an “urban garden.” (Now even the promised green roof is gone.)


NoLandGrab: Oder was more impressed by the interior design of Gehry's ice rink than the outside, another possible omen for the Atlantic Yards arena.

Posted by lumi at 4:44 AM

July 23, 2008

Credit crunch threatens Gehry's Hove scheme

Frank Gehry's controversial scheme for the Hove sea front has been thrown into doubt because of the credit crunch.

BD Online
by Marguerite Lazell

Looks like starchitect Frank Gehry's controversial design for an English waterfront development is going the way of the global credit crunch.

On Tuesday, Gehry confirmed his involvement with the project was over. In an interview in the Guardian with BD columnist Jonathan Glancey, he said: "Don’t go there. It was a painful experience. I guess I never did understand your planning system and all those interfering government design advisers."

Aghiros commented that the King Alfred project was not the sort of scheme Gehry was used to working on.

"The major projects that Frank Gehry has done have been funded by philanthropists, or institutions," he said. “This is a commercial proposition that needs to stand on its own feet. If it’s viable we’ll proceed.”


NoLandGrab: Since the "scheme" Gehry is working on in Brooklyn is being funded in large part by the taxpayers, he may still be able to put that where-have-I-seen-that-before" design to work. Much in the same way that Ratner's hired sports economist Andy Zimbalist allegedly changed the name "Los Angeles Angels" to "Seattle Supersonics" to produce a report on the economic impact of the latter, it appears that Frank Gehry may be recycling ideas, perhaps with a twist, literally, of the building now known as "B1."

Separated at death?



Posted by eric at 6:51 PM

July 10, 2008

Of Bard, and The Bard

Culturist [WNYC blog]
by Claudia La Rocco

This feeling was reinforced by the setting, Frank Gehry’s Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. Gehry, though Canadian born, has been based in Los Angeles for decades, and his extravagant buildings have always seemed, to me, to represent a particularly American vision of the world - one that, depending on my frame of mind, can come off as wonderfully hopeful and expansive, or terribly wasteful and vulgar:


This was my first trip to Bard, and I was expecting to find the Gehry building utterly out of place on the gorgeous, verdant campus, like a gaudy spaceship that has crumpled to earth in a remote forest. But this one, unlike many Gehry buildings, won me over, prompting the first nice thoughts I’ve had about the architect since he clambered into bed with the Brooklyn developer Bruce Ratner. The photo doesn’t really do justice to the odd delicacy of the building’s shimmery skin, which reflected the changing light as day shifted into night. The image, instead of alien machines, was of an alien itself, pulsing with strange life against a backdrop of plush evergreens.


NoLandGrab: "Verdant campus?" You mean, like this?

Posted by eric at 3:22 PM

June 25, 2008

Frank Gehry: Super-Genius or Blundering Artiste? You Decide!

List of Top 10’s of Everything, Top 10 Smartest (Intelligent) People on Earth

Frank Owen Gehry


He is one of the world’s most influential architects. His designs for the likes of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA are bold statements that have imposed a new aesthetic of architecture on the world at large, enlivening streetscapes and creating new destinations. Mr Gehry has extended his vision beyond brick-and-mortar too, collaborating with artists such as Claes Oldenberg and Richard Serra, and designing watches, teapots and a line of jewelry for Tiffany & Co.

Now in his 70s, Mr Gehry refuses to slow down or compromise his fierce vision: He and his team at Gehry Partners are working on a $4 billion development of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, and a spectacular Guggenheim museum in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which interprets local architecture traditions into a language all his own. Incorporating local architectural motifs without simply paying lip service to Middle Eastern culture, the building bears all the hallmarks of a classic Gehry design.

NoLandGrab: "All the hallmarks?" Like, it will roast people and leak?

Business Standard, The folly of modern architecture

Take the example of the iconic Frank Gehry and two of his projects, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Stata Center at MIT. The Disney Concert Hall has vertically-curved layers of shiny stainless steel sheets at different angles, which amplify and reflect abundant California sunlight in all directions, blinding residents and heating up their neighbouring apartments by several degrees. After many complaints, the Los Angeles Philharmonic had to solve the reflection problem by covering up the steel facade with unglamorous matte cloth. Had Gehry taken into consideration the impact of the building on its surroundings, he would not have used mirror-like panels in the first place. It seems Gehry did not learn his lesson, as his subsequent work on the Stata Center exemplifies.

MIT had sought a new large building to house several science departments and research labs, in a harmonious and collaborative environment. Gehry took the latter part of agenda a bit too seriously, at the expense of function, low maintenance, and cost savings. Outside, the centre looked like the crooked house from Mother Goose, as Silber aptly puts it, with flat glass roofs that wilted under Massachusetts rains and snow, subjecting expensive computer and lab equipment to damage from frequent leakage. Inside, it was equally chaotic. Gehry had wanted to do away with walls between offices, but after the faculty insisted on their privacy, he compromised with glass walls that failed to block sound or visual distractions. Ironically, there are glass walls in the cryptography departments and other centres that conduct secret military and industrial information. For this building that was completed four years behind schedule, MIT paid nearly twice the original estimate of $100 million. In late 2007, MIT would sue Gehry for providing designs with major structural deficiencies leading to high maintenance and repair costs.

Posted by eric at 4:29 PM

June 11, 2008


LA Daily
by Matthew Fleischer

What would you call an expensive, widely opposed Frank Gehry project with a lavish budget that comes partly at the expense of education funding? Atlantic Yards? Think again.

First there was the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, then Grand Avenue, now yet another proposed Frank Gehry building has come under intense public scrutiny -- this time at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. Hundreds of students and alumni gathered in the auditorium of the prestigious design school yesterday to question Art Center president Richard Koshalek about a proposed $50 million Gehry-made design research center and library.

During the course of the contentious two-hour meeting, several students made it clear they thought Koshalek was spending too much time and money plotting a signature building and not enough on their education. Art Center students have seen their tuition jump 5% to 6% annually for the past five years. They now pay roughly $15,000 per trimester in tuition.

Opposition to the Gehry building, which had been simmering unspoken for quite some time, found public voice last month when Nathan Cook, a 26-year old Industrial Design major, wrote a post on his blog questioning the Koshalek administration's priorities. Cook was upset that though Art Center goes out of its way to brand itself a leader in sustainability, the campus has no recycling bins and its cafeteria continues to use Styrofoam plates and cups. After being told for more than a year that the school couldn't afford such amenities, Cook wondered openly on his blog how a school that paid $385,068 to Gehry Partners to design a new building, a figure he culled from 2005 public tax records, couldn't afford recycling bins and environmentally friendly kitchenware.


Sign the petition "calling for a moratorium on all new Gehry-related building expenses" by the Art Center College of Design.

Posted by eric at 2:00 PM

June 9, 2008

Pritzker Prize Winners Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Renzo Piano

The Charlie Rose Show

Gehry-CharlieRose.jpg During a panel discussion among Pritzker Prize Winners, Atlantic Yards designer Frank Gehry reveals why he probably shouldn't be talking to the media about the 16-highrise superblock megaproject.

A short discussion of Atlantic Yards starts around 24:15 on the video broadcast (link):

Despite four generations of renderings and models released to the public, Gehry claimed that "nobody has seen it until a few weeks ago, for the first time."

NoLandGrab: The Charlie Rose Show used drawings from the third-generation design of Atlantic Yards, released in May, 2006. Frank Gehry may recall that he was present at the unveiling.

In a moment of clarity, Gehry admits "It went through a fairly creative, but a legal and business and city-planning process. I think in the end it was going in the right way. It's smaller because we always knew it probably would be smaller."

NLG: "Fairly creative, but... legal," is a "fairly creative, but legal" standard for any city-planning or approval process, but that's what makes Atlantic Yards special.

Atlantic Yards Report, On Charlie Rose, Gehry claims that old AY designs were never legit
Norman Oder posted play-by-play commentary on Frank Gehry's segment on Atlantic Yards and analysis of relevant remarks from the same discussion by Zaha Hadid.

Posted by lumi at 4:19 AM

June 8, 2008

Antonovich questions plan to again delay Grand Avenue project's start

LA Times
Cara Mia DiMassa

The developer says the postponement is necessary because of the tight credit market. County supervisor calls for the Frank Gehry-designed project across from Disney Hall to be put out to bid again.
Supervisor Mike Antonovich issued a statement late Friday calling on the Grand Avenue Authority, made up of city and county officials, to put the project out to bid again.

"If other developers knew that they could delay the start date for 16 months, they would have bid the project differently," the statement said.
Grand Avenue is one of several major developments around the nation that have been delayed because of the credit crunch. In Seattle, developers recently shelved plans for a $7-billion development downtown, citing the poor economy. Huge projects in Las Vegas, Phoenix and New York City have also been scaled back or delayed, including part of the Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and a $14-billion development of the area around Penn Station in Manhattan.

NoLandGrab: Although it sounds like this project is suffering a similar fate to Atlantic Yards, it's important to remember that with AY, FCR was outbid from the start.

Posted by amy at 11:12 AM

June 5, 2008

Gehry Designs NYC's Tallest Residential Tower

Architectural Record


Starchitect condos? Old news. Now real estate companies are tapping high-profile architects to design rental apartment buildings. In Lower Manhattan, Forest City Ratner Companies and Frank Gehry, FAIA—the team behind the controversial and recently downsized Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn—are erecting what will become New York City’s tallest residential dwelling, Beekman Tower. Tenants will start taking occupancy in fall 2010, distinguishing the project as Gehry’s first completed residential tower.

Wonder why most people head for the exits when they see an architect coming? Check it out:

While speaking at the construction site in late May, Gehry told reporters architectural pluralism is “chaotic, but should be treated as a virtue instead of a negative.” In that spirit, he has designed an exuberant skyscraper that will add flair to the respected downtown landscape.

At the foot of the tower is a highly contextual, 100-foot-tall podium clad in terracotta-colored brick that Gehry describes as “laidback, quiet, simple”; this base will be punctuated by a more sculptural porte-cochere canopy that also forms the ceiling of the building’s lobby.


NoLandGrab: The article misses the point about condo-vs-rentals. The reason that the Beekman tower will be rental is that Ratner knows that the market won't support another round of luxury starchitect condos.

Additionally, calling Atlantic Yards "downsized" proves that Forest City Ratner's cynical pr campaign worked. [Ratner increased the size of the project before later reducing it in "response to criticism."]

Posted by lumi at 4:34 AM

June 2, 2008

Building Hype

On the Media

Ever notice that sophisticated architectural renderings make construction projects look impossibly attractive. Exactly, says Dwell senior editor Geoff Manaugh, who blogs at bldgblog.blogspot.com. That's precisely the point.


Atlantic Yards watchdogs have been well schooled by Frank Gehry's rendering team in the art of making folks believe that the controversial megaproject:

Posted by lumi at 4:58 AM

May 31, 2008

Gehry's Beekman Tower Gets Presented, Goes Street



The gang from developer Forest City Ratner met last night with folks living near their new Frank Gehry- designed luxury rental tower—the crinkled steel colossus at 8 Spruce Street also known as the Beekman Tower—and they brought along a nifty PowerPoint presentation to share more info about the underway project. Lower Manhattan's wavy wonder has already picked up a major endorsement, so it was nice to get the full scoop. But before getting into the nitty-gritty of the construction and the community benefits and the move-ins and all that fun stuff, can we take a moment to reflect on that Beekman/Gehry logo seen above? It was strange enough when Ian Schrager unveiled his high-brow interpretation of graffiti at the trés chic 40 Bond, but now Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry want street cred? Guys, at least save it for Brooklyn!


Posted by amy at 9:52 AM

Looking Skyward in Lower Manhattan


NY Times
NICOLAI OUROUSSOFF thinks that it's a hard knocks life for Frank Gehry in New York, as project after project is dumped or "disfigured by an enormous logo."

His plan for the colossal Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn remains a pet target of grass-roots activists.

But all is not lost from cute little protests! The Beekman Tower forges on!

The design has evolved through an unusual public-private partnership. In an agreement with New York education officials, the tower’s developer, Forest City Ratner, agreed to incorporate a public elementary school into the project. Forest City was responsible for the construction of the school; the Department of Education then bought the building from the developer. (Forest City was also a development partner in the new Midtown headquarters of The New York Times Company.)

The Beekman Tower is thus a curious fusion of public and private zones.

All of FCR's dealings with the government seem to be curious...it would have been nice if the Times had started out being a little more curious about Atlantic Yards.


Posted by amy at 9:18 AM

May 29, 2008

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere117.jpg Here's what they're saying in the blogosphere:

My Slice of Pizza, Tour De Brooklyn
After this weekend's Tour de Brooklyn, one more blogger thinks that Bruce Ratner's controversial "Atlantic Yards" project is an actual neighborhood.

Today, I went on the bike tour of Brooklyn. The borough president Marty Markovitz, in his true Brooklyn accent, started us off. The tour went through a rainbow of neighborhoods: Atlantic yards, Crown Heights, Bed-Sty, Eastern Parkway, Bushwick, and curiously the Navy yard.

Bodega, And the Lil Debbie Award Goes to.....

BODEGA always pays homage to where it is due and deserved. We are awarding the Lil Debbie cake award to Addy & Ferro (our 2nd home) . Standing out can sometimes be a challenge, but this 3 year old Fort Greene based boutique has been standing strong and continues to bring the community fly threads.... Addy is also known for being heavily involved in the community, putting together book drives for children, supporting a NON Atlantic Yards, and pushing people to vote...for Obama (you can register there!).

Gray Wolf's Howl, Will Columbia Take Manhattanville?
From an article explaining the history of the Manhattanville fight against Columbia University's expansion and abuse of eminent domain:

Given the community’s misgivings about the Columbia plan, it’s not surprising that many expansion opponents have connected with residents of two other New York neighborhoods where huge development projects—Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Willetts Point in Queens—have sparked backlash against the use of eminent domain.

Daily Kos, In local news

Sometimes, in my rage at the Federal administration, I forget that local politics has its own fair share of disgrace. Case in point: the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

In case you didn't know, for the last few years Brooklyn has been victim to a rash of eminent domain abuse by the city and the development company Forest City Ratner. The company has enlisted architect Frank Gehry to design a vast mess of construction to sit on top of the rail yards at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, as well as on top of the former sites of many perfectly good residential buildings. The centerpieces of the project are to be a massive tower once known as Miss Brooklyn, and an arena for the Brooklyn Nets (currently the New Jersey Nets).

Of course, this is all financed by the usual shell game involved in pro sports construction.

Two architectural blogs recap the recent article from Architectural Record:
mimdap.org, Gehry, Atlantic Yards’ta yapacağı kulelerin boyunu kısalttı

Atlantic Yards bölgesinde 700 000 metrekarelik karma kullanımı bulunduran New York City projesi, ilk günden çeşitli tartışmaları başlattı. Projenin simge binalarından olan Miss Brooklyn binasının yüksekliği 190 metreden 155 metreye indirildi.

architectsjournal.co.uk, Frank Gehry cuts back New York tower amid financial downturn

The signature building of the 800,000m2 development, called Miss Brooklyn, has been downsized by Gehry from 62m to 51m in height due to the tough economic climate, but campaigners still believe the development is too big for the area. It is pictured here in its latest iteration.

According to the Architectural Record in New York, the building's use has been changed from residential and office space to 65,00m2 of commercial space and even the name has altered. It will now be referred to as Building One.

Posted by lumi at 4:38 AM

May 23, 2008

Gehry Downsizes Tower Design for Atlantic Yards

Architectural Record
by C.J. Hughes

The architecture-business bible, perhaps inadvertently, hits the nail on the head.


Even Frank Gehry projects don’t seem to be immune to the current economic downturn.

Atlantic Yards, a 22-acre, 8-million-square-foot mixed-use New York City project that’s been mired in controversy from day one, is now scaling back its signature building, Miss Brooklyn, from 620 to 511 feet in height. Along with the downsizing comes a change in function: originally, the tower was to feature condos and offices, but the new design calls for just 650,000 square feet of commercial space. As such, developer Forest City Ratner Companies is also renaming it, from Miss Brooklyn, for the borough it will sit in, to the more prosaic Building One.

The high-rise has a completely new look. Previously, its facade was arrayed along relatively straight, clean lines, renderings show. Now, though, the glass-and-steel structure twists and tapers as it climbs, skewing its silver-colored panels at enough odd angles to suggest a house of cards. [Emphasis, ours]


NoLandGrab: Atlantic Yards suggests a house of cards in more ways than one.

Posted by eric at 8:25 PM

Two sides of Gehry

The Brooklyn Paper

From a letter to the editor by Municipal Art Society (MAS) President Kent Barwick about the group's love-hate relationship with Frank Gehry and Forest City Ratner:

The MAS criticized the Atlantic Yards proposal for its poor planning and the total failure of its public and private sponsors to meaningfully engage the public. The MAS presented an award to the IAC building because it was selected by an independent jury as one of the best new buildings in New York City.

The fact that both projects are designed by the same architect is immaterial. In the same awards ceremony, we honored Forest City Ratner, the developer of the Atlantic Yards project, by naming the New York Times Building one of the best new buildings in the city.


Posted by lumi at 5:22 AM

May 21, 2008

Gehry's dutiful B1 charade and the marketing of naming rights

Atlantic Yards Report

In for a dime, in for a dollar--or many, many thousands of them. The opportunity to build his first arena, and maybe even "a neighborhood practically from scratch", means starchitect Frank Gehry dutifully participated in a charade over the name of the flagship Atlantic Yards tower, which is now--as predicted by me and NoLandGrab--up for a naming rights sponsorship.


Posted by eric at 9:51 AM

Brooklyn's Her Maiden Name: Ratner Offering Naming Deal for Atlantic Yards' Tallest Tower

The NY Observer
by Eliot Brown

GehryModel-v2B1.jpg Here's one we called a couple weeks ago:

Bruce Ratner is looking for a new name for the signature office tower in his $4 billion-plus Atlantic Yards project.

The Frank Gehry-designed tower was known as “Miss Brooklyn” until it was shrunk, redesigned and re-unveiled in April under a new, more staid moniker: “B1.” It turns out that that name, too, may change, should developer Forest City Ratner, led by Mr. Ratner, find a tenant eager enough to attach its name to the building.


NoLandGrab: "Find a tenant eager enough to attach its name to the building?" Forest City would be happy enough just to find a tenant that wanted space in the building, since it won't break ground until it has leases for at least 50% of "B1."

Posted by eric at 9:25 AM

May 19, 2008

Not Mr. Gehry's neighbourhood?

A Frank Gehry-designed arena complex in Brooklyn is a target in New Yorkers's favourite blood sport - real estate

Toronto Globe and Mail

By now, surely, Frank Gehry is inured to the revulsion of others. After wrestling with the Spanish over his whimsical Guggenheim Bilbao museum, with Angelenos over his blindingly reflective Walt Disney Concert Hall, with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology over leaks in a $300-million complex he designed there, and with his own neighbours over his chain-link-fence-adorned house in Santa Monica, the 79-year-old Canadian-born architect is now one of the primary targets of community activists over the gargantuan Atlantic Yards development in downtown Brooklyn, of which he is the chief architect.

Conceived more than four years ago when developer Bruce Ratner purchased the New Jersey Nets and announced his intention to move them to Brooklyn, Atlantic Yards was envisioned as an instant neighbourhood: a 16-building, nine-hectare complex that would throw down an 18,000-seat basketball arena, thousands of luxury condos, low-income housing, and eight office towers.

The only problem was, there was already a neighbourhood there.


Posted by lumi at 4:24 AM

May 16, 2008


ESPN The Magazine
by Otto Strong


The New Jersey Nets took one step closer to Brooklyn Thursday, even if the stopover came in the form of a showroom high above midtown. Team brass rolled out a living, breathing life-size version of what the suite experience will look and feel like in a new sales center on the 38th floor of The New York Times building.

The Celtics may have this season's Big Three, but the the Big Three who served as MCs for Thursday night's event—Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and Nets owners Bruce Ratner and Jay-Z—brought the one liners with them.

Jay-Z was announced to be the first owner of a "bunker suite," one of 12 "event level" spaces that actually has no direct view of the courts, but is tucked between the home and visting teams locker rooms. At 500-square feet, these suites are larger than many Manhattan apartments. And at $540,000, they're just about as expensive, too. Aside from having a sophisticated décor that rivals trendier dwellings in the city, these suites include private bathrooms, multiple flat panel HD-LCD TVs and even a regulation pool table. Also included are eight courtside seats per suite, ya know, just in case you feel like checking out LeBron in person.


NoLandGrab: We're pretty certain that Forest City Ratner misses the irony of selling "bunker suites" in an arena that they swore was completely secure — before they re-designed it to eliminate most of the not-so-safe-looking glass façade.

Posted by eric at 2:09 PM

The Kitchen Sink

The Brooklyn Paper

Boroughwide: Hypocrisy alert! Our friends at the Municipal Art Society — who opposed the Frank Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project — seem to have no problem with the starchitect’s IAC Building on the West Side of Manhattan. The Society just awarded Gehry as a co-winner (with Renzo Piano) of its MASterwork award for best new building. We wonder if they’ll do the same for Miss Brooklyn when (or, more accurately, if) she’s built at the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic. …

article [scroll down]

Posted by eric at 2:03 PM

May 14, 2008

So, who's #77 on the Observer's 100 most powerful people in NY real estate list?

Atlantic Yards Report

For those of you who think that the all-too-powerful real estate industry pulls most of New York City's levers (is there anyone who doesn't think that?), a ray of light has emerged: it's a man, it's a journalist/blogger, it's Norman Oder!

According to the New York Observer's quite arbitrary list of the 100 Most Powerful People in New York Real Estate, Bruce Ratner is #8, Frank Gehry is #51, and I am number #77.

While the listing is flattering, I can't say they have me convinced. For example, Charles Bagli, the veteran real estate/development reporter for the New York Times--and formerly at the Observer--does not appear on the list and he's way more powerful than I am. (Despite my criticisms of his AY coverage, he's a very able reporter.) And I am not more powerful than Nicolai Ouroussoff, the Times's architecture critic, at #85, nor Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, chair of the Assembly's Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, at #89; he has the power to grill public officials. And where's Julia Vitullo-Martin of the Manhattan Institute, a savvy and provocative commentator?


NoLandGrab: Like some modern-day Lincoln Steffens (or Fremont Older), Oder has raked the muck caking Atlantic Yards, and in so doing, has exposed the project's seamy underside like no other journalist.

Posted by eric at 9:55 AM

May 12, 2008

Closing Bell: Ratner, Gehry, Pool Barge Win Awards

by Sarah Ryley

Forest City Ratner and Frank Gehry were cited by the Municipal Art Society, but no, the awards weren't for the new renderings of Atlantic Yards.

The Municipal Art Society announced last week the winners of its seventh annual MASterwork Awards, and three Brooklyn heavy hitters made the list. Renzo Piano's New York Times building, built by Forest City Ratner, and Frank Gehry's IAC Building won for best buildings. While both buildings are in Manhattan, Ratner is the developer of the controversial Atlantic Yards area and high-rise megaproject and that place where there's a Target, and Atlantic Yards is designed by Frank Gehry. The Floating Pool lady, moored at the future Brooklyn Bridge Park last summer (and now in the Bronx), won for best neighborhood catalyst along with The New Museum. Diane von Furstenberg's DVF Studio Headquarters in the Meatpacking District and the Museum at Eldridge Street won for best historic renovation.


Posted by eric at 11:05 PM

May 9, 2008

‘Miss Brooklyn’ Renamed & Reconsidered

NY Sun
by James Gardner

NewAYPhaseOneSmall.jpg The Sun's architectural critic thinks the new renderings of Atlantic Yards (or at least a portion of the project) are an upgrade over the previous version.

Forest City Ratner has this week released the latest plans for its contentious development of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, more specifically for the parcel of its 22 acres that faces the southwest, looking past the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan. In an architectural context that tends, over time, to drag all things down in the direction of safe and unassuming mediocrity, these plans, from the studio of Frank Gehry, have the distinction of being even bolder than the initial ones and, in some senses, a little better.


With the release of these latest renderings, we finally have some sense of what the Atlantic Yards might actually look like completed. But a great deal could happen between now and then, and the plans could change dramatically in the next few months.


Posted by eric at 9:40 AM

May 8, 2008

Atlantic Yards Reboot Poll: Miss Brooklyn or B1?



Curbed lets you play American Idol, Starchitecture edition.

On the left, we have Frank Gehry's original Miss Brooklyn, released almost exactly two years ago. On the right, is the new contender, the unfortunately named B1, released this morning. Whether B2 or Mr. Flatbush are coming in 12-24 months is unknown, but B1 is the latest Atlantic Yards thinking.

Which is better, Miss Brooklyn or B1?

Cast your vote

NoLandGrab: Commenter #7 had this to say: "B1! The name harks back to the bomber that never worked, and the perfect defense against a terror attack is a building that already looks blown up!"

Posted by eric at 7:52 AM

Closing Bell: Gehry's Arena Turns Blue



The arena has been altered as well, and now it's blue! Per a press release from developer Forest City Ratner's people: "The Barclays Center, the future home of the NBA Nets franchise, has also received an updated design. Frank Gehry’s swooping blue metallic exterior surrounds the Center and is in keeping with his world-renown distinctive style."

We've posted some of those other world-renowned buildings. Notice that Brooklyn's metal is the least bend-y.


Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

May 7, 2008

Frank Gehry's new Miss Brooklyn- B1

Pasilalinic-Sympathetic Compass

The litany of Frank Gehry's real-world design bloopers sets the stage for one critic's pan of the latest designs for three buildings in the 17-building Atlantic Yards complex.

“B1” is a monstrosity- it looks like a child was building a diorama for a school project when someone bumped into the table before glue set. How the public is even supposed to tell what is what amazes me- I have a trained eye and I can’t make out what the mass of toothpicks at the base of the structure is. I am insulted that Gehry is attempting to use vapid, hollow artist statements to justify a design that he clearly wasn’t expecting to have to defend.

Gehry's defense of the red and pink horror (B2) that towers beside the gold cardboard-box was one of the most patronizing statements I’ve heard issued from the FCR/Gehry camp. The pink and red is supposedly there to “speak to the residential fabric of the neighborhood.” And we, as Brooklynites, are not supposed to know any better, because clearly we do not understand art, and this is great; the man understands our residential fabric! Clearly he understands it better than myself, because last time I looked around the Atlantic Yards footprint, I saw brownstones, row houses, limestone and granite facades and accents. But then again, I’m not even sure if Frank Gehry has even been in Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

May 6, 2008

Give heave-ho to 'Lego' building, say Atlantic Yards critics

NY Daily News
by Jotham Sederstrom

Call it a scrap heap, a life-size land of Legos or, as one critic described it, a post-apocalyptic nightmare - just don't call it fit for Kings County.

One day after the release of scaled-back new designs for the controversial Atlantic Yards project, New Yorkers took a bite out of the spiraling, Lego-like remake of the signature 620-foot Miss Brooklyn building.

"You're kidding, right?" said Anthony Lomastro, 62, when shown renderings of the wild-eyed, glass-and-steel skyscraper, now called Building One. "That looks like it's falling down instead of going up. It's awful."


Posted by eric at 11:19 AM

Decoding the FCR press release on Site 5, the arena, and "Building 1"

Atlantic Yards Report

Who killed Site 5?

The Forest City Ratner press release that followed yesterday's Daily News exclusive confirms some things only hinted at in the coverage.

Notably, the building at Site 5 seems to have vanished, the arena would be surrounded with more metal than glass, and the billing of Building 1 (formerly called Miss Brooklyn) as slimmer still doesn't obscure the fact that it would be nearly twice as bulky as the Williasmburgh Savings Bank, one foot taller at 512 feet.

And Frank Gehry, under the control of the developer's p.r. department, gushes about the potential for the flagship tower, though he avoids calling it, as he did two years ago, "my ego trip."

Also, despite developer Bruce Ratner's statement in a press release that "we mark a significant chapter in Atlantic Yards’ progress," the new image gallery released yesterday is significantly less ambitious than the one released nearly two years ago, in May 2006, given that it includes only three buildings, omits Site 5, and omits any designs for Phase 2.

The failure to produce any more images casts further doubt on the developer's plans for the project at large.


Posted by eric at 10:15 AM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: New Frank Gehry Atlantic Yards Design:
"Ridiculous" Design Has No Impact on Stalled Project

Renderings Only Show Phase 1 of Project

Leaving Out Bulk of "Affordable" Housing

BROOKLYN, NY— Today Forest City Ratner and its architect Frank Gehry released new designs for a portion of the $4 billion Atlantic Yards proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. The architectural renderings show a new design for the project’s proposed arena and 2 other buildings in Phase 1 of the project. But the developer shows no rendering at all for Phase 2--the larger part of the project--which is planned to encompass about 78% of the 2,250 "affordable" units. A State Funding Agreement provides no timeline whatsoever for Phase 2 and the developer has not provided a credible timeline for Phase 2.

"The new design from Frank Gehry is no better than the last--in reality it has gone from the absurd to the ridiculous aesthetically and programmatically," said Ron Shiffman, Professor, Pratt Graduate Center for Planning and the Environment and a New York City Planning Commissioner [1990-1996]. The fact that there isn’t a new design released for Phase 2 concerns me greatly. It seems like there is no plan for the bulk of the affordable housing, which would be in Phase 2. To destroy buildings of significant quality that could house people and jobs for what looks like an open-ended series of parking lots, rather than housing that could be affordable to low and moderate income area residents, is terrible planning and policy."

The New York Daily News published the Frank Gehry renderings as an exclusive. The paper reports that the so-called "Miss Brooklyn" signature skyscraper, is now called simply "Building 1." The reduction of that tower from 620 feet to 511 feet was announced as a "concession" on December 20, 2006 when the project was approved by the Public Authorities Control Board. Today marks the first time the reduction has been shown in a rendering. The rendering does not show the project’s massive scale as it relates to the surrounding neighborhood; its only context is a dark void explaining nothing about the projects context.

The NY Post published exclusive renderings from the Municipal Art Society (MAS) which show the project fully built out within the existing neighborhood context, as well as built only in part (an arena. and one building) surrounded by newly demolished, blighting parking lots. Apparently the MAS renderings were motivated by the March 21 NY Times interview with Mr. Ratner where the developer described the trouble he was having getting his project off the ground.

"Mr. Gehry and Mr. Ratner can release redesigns of Atlantic Yards’s buildings every week if they’d like, but that wouldn’t respond to the core reasons for the widespread opposition to the project," said Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein. "The new designs are a fantasy. The project lacks committed financing (including tax-free housing bonds and a bond for the arena), an anchor tenant, and the land needed for the project, while Ratner faces vigorous litigation, a frightening credit market and exponential increases in construction costs. His project is in serious jeopardy. So when he says he ‘anticipates’ it will be completed in 2018, it's simply not credible. It means nothing."

DEVELOP DON'T DESTROY BROOKLYN leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development that will unite our communities instead of dividing and destroying them DDDB is 501c3 non-profit corporation supported by over 4,000 individual donors from the community.


Posted by lumi at 4:18 AM

May 5, 2008

Atlantic Yards Designer Revises Look For Miss Brooklyn

by Vittorio Hernandez

Aside from at least two new lawsuits, New York's Atlantic Yards project is again the talk of the town as the designer of the tower revised his masterpiece by lopping off 100 feet.

Miss Brooklyn, renamed as Building One, would be down to 511 feet from the original design by Frenk Gehry of 620 feet. The residential component has been removed also, leaving the development as a commercial office space venture.

Gehry explained the innovations he has introduced. "My enthusiasm for Atlantic Yards has grown and grown until arriving at our current design, which works better with the surrounding area that it ever had before," Gehry told the New York Daily News.


Posted by eric at 2:17 PM

Atlantic Yards' Miss Brooklyn is slashed more than 100 feet in massive redo

NY Daily News
By Jotham Sederstrom

GehryModel-v201.jpg Say bye-bye to Miss Brooklyn. She has been dumped for "Building 1" in these new designs released exclusively to the Daily News:

Miss Brooklyn, now called Building One, has been slimmed down and has become more festive, resulting in a very unique office building," he said.

"I've tried to give it some energy and excitement as it meshes with the arena design."

The 34-story structure - once expected to rise higher than the Williamsburgh Savings Bank - will now be dwarfed by it. The sleek Miss Brooklyn is replaced by an asymmetrical design that rises like a spiraling Lego structure, edges askew.

The glass-and-steel-framed building, seen as the centerpiece of the oft-stalled 22-acre project, will no longer house condos and instead will offer 650,000 square feet of office space, officials said.

The condos will be shifted to a different building or be built as rental units instead, said Forest City Ratner Executive Vice President MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Meanwhile, "B2," which will be completed first, is a red-and-pink-hued, 340-foot building featuring 350 market-rate and affordable apartments, which Gehry said "speaks to the residential fabric of the neighborhood."


The Daily News's online slideshow of the new Phase 1 designs contains some images of previous versions of Gehry's Atlantic Yards designs. Here are thumbnails of the new images — click to enlarge.

Atlantic Yards Report, New renderings show Miss Brooklyn cut (duh), renamed, "more festive," but questions unanswered
Norman Oder is first out of the gate with commentary on the new project images released this morning in the Daily News:

A Daily News exclusive today shows new renderings of the flagship Atlantic Yards tower but hints at many questions unanswered, notably the apparent dumping of a Phase 1 tower at Site 5 (see building at far left below), the continuing role of architect Frank Gehry, the plans for the proposed Urban Room, and new designs--apparently with less glass, a potential security issue--for the planned arena.

...the news is that the tower would be cut to 511 feet and feature commercial office space only, but neither is a surprise.

After all, the agreement to keep the tower shorter than the 512-foot Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower was announced as a "concession" on 12/20/06, to coincide with the approval of the project by the Public Authorities Control Board. And I reported in February on developer Forest City Ratner's apparent plans to make Miss Brooklyn an office tower only.

Oder tries to answer some of the hard questions that the News left on the table:

The Daily News reports that the building would include 650,000 square feet of office space, which is more than the 528,000 square feet described last October. Given that the building was once supposed to also include a hotel with 164,652 square feet, it's a good bet that the revised plans trade hotel space for office space.
If 30% of the apartments are to be affordable, that means 105 affordable apartments, with 42 of them low-income.

While the article doesn't specify the location, Building 2 is at the northeast corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, according to the official Site Plan. According to the General Project Plan appoved by the Empire State Development Corporation, its maximum height was to be 322 feet. (That refers to the last occupiable floor, so the 340-foot figure may refer to rooftop mechanicals.)

Building 2 is supposed to open at the same time as the arena; the developer says 2010, but that seems highly speculative. Nor was the developer asked if the project would contain 16 towers, as approved, or 15, as hinted by yesterday.

Read the rest of the article for speculation about the "missing buildings" and the urban room.

Posted by lumi at 6:09 AM

May 1, 2008

Mirrors and Glass

Photographer Tasha O'Neill searches the world for reflections; her latest are in the buildings of Frank O. Gehry.

PacketOnline.com [Central NJ News]
By Ilene Dube

While Brooklynites brace themselves for architect Frank Gehry's vision for Brooklyn, there are local fans who are waiting in the wings to make a pilgrimage:


Enthusiasts — myself included — began making pilgrimages to the Basque region of Spain. In some ways resembling a large boat covered with titanium fish scales, the Bilbao Guggenheim’s design was said to be inspired by the architect’s memories of the live carp his Jewish grandmother brought home each week. She would keep it in her bathtub until time to make gefilte fish.

Gehry designs closer to home include the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Anondale-on-Hudson, N.Y., and the Stata Center at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The latter made news last fall when MIT sued Gehry because leaks in the building led to cracked masonry, mold, backed-up drainage and falling ice and debris blocked emergency exits. Gehry fans among us eagerly await the completion of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, the addition to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and our very own Lewis Science Library on the Princeton University campus.


NoLandGrab: Sorry to flatten the fluff in your nutter, but Atlantic Yards isn't coming any time soon, and even if it does, Gehry will probably not be designing all the buildings, as was originally announced.

Posted by lumi at 5:00 AM

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 5:46 AM

L.A.'s Grand Avenue project snags on loans

LA Times
By Cara Mia DiMassa

The other Frank Gehry-designed megaproject is also stalling out:

The developer of the Grand Avenue project in downtown Los Angeles said Monday that completion of the $3-billion redevelopment effort will be delayed until 2012 because of difficulty in obtaining construction loans amid the real estate downturn.

The Frank Gehry-designed high-rise project is seen as a linchpin in downtown's revitalization, and the delay is the latest sign that the loft and condo craze in the city center is cooling off.
Grand Avenue is one of several mega-developments around the nation that are in trouble because of the credit crunch. In Seattle, developers recently shelved plans for a $7-billion development downtown, citing the poor economy. Huge projects in Las Vegas, Phoenix and New York have also been scaled back or delayed, including part of the Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and a $14-billion development of the area around Penn Station.


Posted by lumi at 4:56 AM

April 26, 2008

Layoffs at Frank Gehry's firm have L.A. architects on edge


L.A. Now

One Gehry architect told LA Now today that 23 workers were laid off in the firm's Venice office in response to the delay in the giant Atlantic Yards project in New York and the slowing economy. On Thursday, Curbed LA reported a rumor that 80 people had lost their jobs. Gehry's firm, for its part, is not talking, failing to respond to several e-mails and phone calls today.

What's for sure is that architects, along with real estate developers and builders, are seeing business drop off steeply, with no end in sight. Says Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne:

"I think it's likely certain big firms around town will have to take similar action; even foreign investors flush with capital, which have been keeping a few high-stakes projects here from collapsing, are starting to look wary of investing in the U.S. All the same, Gehry's is a special case: The sheer scale of the firm's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn -- not to mention Grand Avenue, Abu Dhabi and other mega-commissions around the world -- meant it had to expand over the last few years to an unprecedented degree. Staffing levels there really had nowhere to go but down."


Posted by amy at 10:59 AM

April 18, 2008

Miss Brooklyn monologues

The Brooklyn Paper, Letter to the Editor

To the editor,


I have shown sketches of Frank Gehry’s “Miss Brooklyn” tower to dozens of people and almost everyone who sees it sees what I see: a vagina-shaped entrance that makes it appear that Miss Brooklyn is squatting on her knees at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues (“Gehry to Brooklyn Paper: Miss Brooklyn ain’t dead — in fact, she’s hotter than ever,” Web exclusive, April 4).

I think Gehry’s frontal design is, to put it discreetly, simply naughty. Could he be pulling this satirical trick on us similar to his “Ginger Rogers–Fred Astaire” building in Prague?

Could all of the people who have seen the rendering — architects, designers, students and faculty of design — be crazy?

Brent Porter, Clinton Hill

The writer is an architect and professor at Pratt Institute.

Posted by lumi at 5:14 AM

April 16, 2008

Answers About Brooklyn Architecture

City Room (The New York Times Blog)

Diana Lind, author of "Brooklyn Modern: Architecture, Interiors & Design," answers questions from readers. She most definitely has not drunk The Times's Kool-Aid when it comes to Atlantic Yards.

Q: Speaking of Atlantic Yards, what does Ms. Lind think of this megadevelopment, and its potential effects on Brooklyn life?

— Posted by matt

A: Living in Fort Greene half a block from Atlantic Avenue, I’ve thought a lot about the Atlantic Yards project and its potential impact on life in Brooklyn. Certainly the site merits some kind of development, but I’m opposed to the Ratner plan as it stands now for a few reasons. I take umbrage at the project’s vast, uninterrupted scale; its street closings; its miserable sense of public space (when was the last time you threw a Frisbee on a private building’s lawn?); and most recently, revelations of its more than $2 billion worth of tax write-offs and subsidies from the government, according to the New York Post. Though the project has promoted the fact that it’s going to create jobs and housing, the scheme of using public money to finance this endeavor sounds like robbing Peter and Paul to pay Mary (sorry, the pope’s coming to town).

But I also have aesthetic qualms with the project. I don’t think any one architect should be in charge of designing 22 acres of any city. In a March 21 article by the New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, the project’s uncertain status is lamented. Mr. Ourousoff points to the importance of great planning projects like Rockefeller Center (roughly the same size as Atlantic Yards). But Rockefeller Center was developed by a team of architects; Atlantic Yards will not be. Gehry is good at what he does, and as others have noted his voluptuous style would nicely contrast with the phallic bank building, but more than seven million square feet of his outlandish style (of any architect’s style) starts to look pretty tacky and boring, no matter the context.

So, if the project goes ahead as it’s planned now, how this will affect life in Brooklyn? A lot. Irreversibly. It will complete Brooklyn’s transformation from a post-industrial residential borough to a city unto itself and will extend Downtown Brooklyn to Fort Greene, Prospect Heights and Boerum Hill.

Spending time in Brooklyn now, one senses the borough’s promise and mutability. When and if Atlantic Yards is completed, I think many people will feel an enormous opportunity was lost on a not particularly innovative project. If I were in charge of the development site, I’d scrap the plan, build a platform over the railyards, and auction off small parcels of the site to varied developers, cultural organizations and schools. The diversity of approaches to the parcels would mimic the city’s naturally haphazard development process and allow for more community involvement.


NoLandGrab: Better hurry up and take a screen shot of this piece, since we don't think we'll be seeing such unvarnished criticism of Atlantic Yards in the pages of the Times's print edition any time soon.

Atlantic Yards Report, Answers About Brooklyn Architecture, criticism of AY

Norman Oder must must have been rendered speechless, since he posted the passage we cited above sans comment.

Posted by eric at 12:21 PM

Is Frank going Gehrazy?

International starchitect and Atlantic Yards designer Frank Gehry is no longer suffering from the run-of-the-mill diva complex. Recent comments from critics and the master himself make us wonder if he's gone off the deep end.

Gehrazy.gif Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn concludes that Gehry sounds "fed up" in comments made at Yale University. Maybe he's fed up, or could it be paranoia?

“Cities are filled with bad buildings and nobody complains,” he said. “But if I do a building, there’s all sorts of protests.”

Such opposition has presented hurdles for Gehry’s work — including the plan for the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn that he first presented some five years ago and that has since changed dramatically.

“I’m supposedly doing 20 or 30 buildings in Brooklyn, but at this point I doubt if it’ll ever all happen,” Gehry acknowledged on Friday.

Either Gehry is being blasé, or he's really losing count of how many buildings he's designing for the largest single-source private development project in NYC history. Typically, regular folks try to mask early signs of dementia.

Gehry is clearly in denial, as most narcissists are, in this quote run by New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:

Have they got things against me?” he asked. “No, it’s against Bruce. You know, when Bilbao was in the model stage, when I was presenting it, I went to Bilbao and there were 300, 400 people with little candles stretched out in three rows, and I had to walk through them to get into the building, and they were protesting me. They published a fatwa in the paper saying ‘Kill the American architect.’ So I’m sort of used to it.” He also suspects his critics will become converts. “Now I go to Bilbao and they kiss me,” he said. “I think the same thing will happen here.”

Selophane.blog gets to the point:

Now Frank Gehry has envisioned himself as the new Pope, when working ex-catia he is a man that can do no wrong.

Dearest Frank:

We don't know whatever gave you the impression that we don't appreciate all that you are trying to do for us. Please know that we all LOVE you and that we're truly sorry and saddened that you feel this way. We understand that creating a "neighborhood practically from scratch" is hard work and you have to be a supergenius, like yourself, to do it. Everyone knows that your Atlantic Yards design has captured the "body language of Brooklyn," so please don't give up on us now.


Posted by lumi at 4:47 AM

April 14, 2008

At 79, miracle-worker Gehry still going strong

Yale Daily News
by Paul Needham

Frank Gehry, Atlantic Yards starchitect, lectured at Yale last Thursday. Among his observations of a life in architecture is this assessment of the state of Atlantic Yards:

“I’m supposedly doing 20 or 30 buildings in Brooklyn, but at this point I doubt if it’ll ever all happen,” Gehry acknowledged on Friday.


NoLandGrab: Sometimes, less is more.

Posted by steve at 6:00 AM

April 2, 2008

The New Gehry Residence in Los Angeles

Here's a really good item we missed yesterday about Atlantic Yards starchitect Frank Gehry's latest creative turn:


It is not often that an architecture master reinvents himself, but that is precisely what Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry has done. Gehry, who first won international recognition with his own residence, a masterpiece of post-modern architecture, has revealed what can only be described as the first post post-modern architectural work, the New Gehry Residence, completely confounding both his critics and promoters alike.

The New Gehry Residence is located in a nearby suburb of Los Angeles is the newest reinvention of Gehry’s signature architecture. The house, which seems to resemble your typical two story McMansion, has all the details that one would expect from his work. The odd shapes resting one on top of the other seem to look like a gable roof, but are in fact so complex, that it took NASA engineers, and builder and his crew, 6 months to make them work. “We couldn’t get them to work together” said one of NASA’s chief engineers. “When Frank asked us to have the larger shape be nested on top of the other two, we new that this was going to be challenge.”

But wait, there's more!

Posted by lumi at 4:20 AM

March 25, 2008

Ouroussoff's Gehry defense was more "hero worship" than civic concern

Atlantic Yards Report

So what exactly did New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff mean last Friday when he counted himself among "we" opponents of the Atlantic Yards project?

I observed that "more likely, he’s an opponent of [architect Frank] Gehry’s vision being stymied." Indeed, more of that perspective emerged in a Sunday essay headlined Nice Tower! Who’s Your Architect? that also involves a Gehry project for Forest City Ratner.

Writing about the architect's Beekman Tower in Lower Manhattan, Ouroussoff, with satisfaction recounted how Gehry got over on the big developer:

Some architects were able to work around conventional real estate wisdom by forging exteriors that would impose a specific experience on the interior spaces. By the time the consultants at Forest City Ratner, the developer behind Mr. Gehry’s Beekman building, realized that the wrinkled walls of the architect’s tower would be mirrored inside the apartments, for example, it was too late to change without a costly reworking of the design.


Posted by lumi at 4:47 AM

March 21, 2008

What Will Be Left of Gehry’s Vision for Brooklyn?

The NY Times
By Nicolai Ouroussoff

Frank Gehry fan and Times architecture critic Nicky O digests the grim realities of Bruce Ratner's controversial Atlantic Yards plan:

The growing possibility that much of the multibillion-dollar Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn will be scrapped because of a lack of financing may be a bitter pill for its developer, Forest City Ratner. But it’s also a painful setback for urban planning in New York.

So if the decision to proceed with an 18,000-seat basketball arena but to defer or eliminate the four surrounding towers is defensible from a business perspective, it also feels like a betrayal of the public trust.

Mr. Gehry conceived of this bold ensemble of buildings as a self-contained composition — an urban Gesamtkunstwerk — not as a collection of independent structures. Postpone the towers and expose the stadium, and it becomes a piece of urban blight — a black hole at a crucial crossroads of the city’s physical history. If this is what we’re ultimately left with, it will only confirm our darkest suspicions about the cynical calculations underlying New York real estate deals.

After offering an unsubstantiated narrative about Gehry's evolving aspirations for the project, including one careless claim about the eastern portion adhering "to the street grid" (they are, in fact, superblocks), Ouroussoff concludes:

No development at all would be preferable to building the design that is now on the table. What’s maddening is how few options opponents seem to have.

We could wage a public campaign to stop it. We could pray that Forest City Ratner comes up with more money. But given that the city approved the plan, we cannot prevent the developer from building the arena. Nor is there any way of preventing Forest City from selling off pieces of the property to other investors, who could then come up with any design they liked, as long as they abided by zoning and density guidelines.

Mr. Gehry, on the other hand, could walk away.


NoLandGrab: "We COULD wage a public campaign to stop it." Why didn't we think of that?

Regarding the public outcry, it would seem like a good time for BrooklynSpeaks to get behind public sentiment and strongly reject Atlantic Yards, which is pretty much gonna be an arena with an enormous "temporary" surface parking lot.

As for Gehry, we've been saying for a long time that this project was going to be a blight on the aging starchitect's legacy. Now that mission creep has set in, any "legitimate architectural hero" would get out before it's too late.

Posted by lumi at 6:05 AM

Times critic Ouroussoff says Gehry should pull out of the truncated “eyesore” AY may become

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder illustrates the evolution of The Times's achitecture critic's position on Atlantic Yards, and corrects the record on a few items in the "elegy" for the project:

After an initial column praising Atlantic Yards, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff in June 2006 wrote a more pensive if hardly tough assessment of the project, taking up the cause of architect Frank Gehry, lamenting his lack of sway with developer Bruce Ratner and the failure of the government to plan for open space.

Six months ago, Ouroussoff was predicting a redesign for Phase One of Atlantic Yards, one that would reveal whether “Brooklyn will receive a dazzling 21st-century version of Rockefeller Center.” It never emerged.

Now that financing troubles (and more) have slowed the project significantly, reducing it to an arena at first, Ouroussoff has written something of an elegy, urging Gehry to leave the project, predicting blight (!), and even seeming to emerge as a project opponent.


Posted by lumi at 6:03 AM

March 14, 2008

Another Ratner lie! Gehry was not ‘born in Brooklyn’

The Brooklyn Paper reports on Ratner's latest lie, one that was originally exposed by Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report:


Gehry’s birthplace would not be all that newsworthy were it not for the fact that Ratner touted Gehry’s supposed Brooklyn origin as evidence of his 16-skyscraper project’s outer-borough roots.

But Gehry was born in Toronto. In Canada.

The lie was hiding in plain sight on Ratner’s Atlantic Yards Web since at least 2004. The Web page — www.atlanticyards. com/html/ay/gehry.html — said that Gehry was “born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929.”
Journalist Norman Oder said the lie “can’t be an honest mistake,” citing architecture critic D.J. Huppatz, who once pointed out, “the born-in-Brooklyn connection [is] a fabrication designed to further make the Gehry design palatable to the local community.”

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Dan Goldstein makes a good point:

“If they manipulate basic, easily proven facts, it’s not hard to imagine what they do with more opaque, easily manipulated facts like their convoluted financing scheme, ‘affordable housing’ plan, and their overall claims about the project’s ‘public benefit.’”

Here's Forest City Ratner spokesperson Loren Riegelhaupt's best defense:

Forest City Ratner spokesman Loren Riegelhaupt admitted the error, but said, “The reality is that it was simply a miscommunication between his office and ours. He evidently lived in Brooklyn briefly at one point, but was not born here. We apologize for any confusion and have corrected the Web page.”


NoLandGrab: The irony is that Ratner promotes someone who had lived in Brooklyn for around a year as a baby as being from Brooklyn, while Atlantic Yards supporters consider someone who has lived in Brooklyn two decades, a newcomer.

Back in February, we dared Ratner to tell the truth about something, anything! The offer still stands.

Posted by lumi at 5:11 AM

March 8, 2008

A Portrait of the Architect as Artist: Frank Gehry in New York


Critical Cities (via Core77)

Gehry’s centerpiece skyscraper of the Yards, the unfortunately named “Miss Brooklyn”, is a “curvaceous” glass tower (of frosted glass perhaps?) and seems the most formally interesting of the 16 skyscrapers. Many of the other towers appear to be simply conventional high-rise condo boxes with a jaunty angle here and there. While Gehry has mastered the singular iconic building, it is hard to see how this will translate to urbanism on such a scale. The designs thus far suggest no radical rethinking of urban space and little thinking about the effects on the existing local community. The increased population density, combined with the absence of adequate parking, schools, hospitals or other social services to service such a huge influx of people, all confirm that the proposed Yards is an exercise in simply maximizing profit by squeezing in as many luxury apartments as possible.

While Ratner’s basketball arena and the promise of NBA in Brooklyn is the sweetener to win over the local African-American community, commissioning starchitect Gehry seems to be a ploy to win over the design-conscious local gentrifiers. The website for the Atlantic Yards interestingly states the following for Gehry’s biography: “Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929, Mr. Gehry and his family moved to California after living in Toronto, Canada, until he was 18.” The born-in-Brooklyn connection seems less an honest mistake than a fabrication designed to further make the Gehry design palatable to the local community. However, judging from the strong local opposition to the project (which even includes local anti-Gehry graffiti at the site), the ploy seems to have failed, and may yet damage the reputation of the rumpled genius, at least in Brooklyn.


Posted by amy at 10:00 AM

March 7, 2008

So, the claim that Gehry's Brooklyn-born comes from the AY web site

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder runs down the source of the bogus claim, found in court papers filed by Forest City Ratner, that architect Frank Gehry was born in Brooklyn.

I shouldn't have been so hard on Forest City Ratner attorney Jeffrey Braun, claiming in a 1/25/08 legal filing that architect Frank Gehry was born in Brooklyn. After all, the claim comes directly from the official Atlantic Yards web site.


Well, it can't be an honest mistake, can it? After all, the Atlantic Yards bio of Gehry links directly to the architect's Pritzker Prize bio, which states that he was born in Canada.

For more than two years, since Gehry stated his willingness to meet with Brooklynites but deferred to his client, and since he cracked that protesters "should've been picketing Henry Ford," Gehry's certainly lost some of his aura in Brooklyn.


Posted by steve at 8:03 AM

February 26, 2008

L.A.'s upscale downtown delayed

As the economy takes a toll on plans, observers focus their concern on two mega-projects: Grand Avenue and Park Fifth.

LA Times
By Cara Mia DiMassa

Frank Gehry's other urban mega-project, in Los Angeles, is being delayed:

More than a third of the approximately 110 residential projects proposed for downtown... have been delayed or put on hold amid the rocky real estate market.

Yet downtown boosters and urban planners are focusing most of their angst on two mega-projects: the Frank Gehry-designed Grand Avenue complex on Bunker Hill and Park Fifth, which would be the tallest residential complex west of Chicago.

Both projects have pushed back their start dates in recent months as developers sought capital and construction loans in an increasingly difficult market and negotiated the various government approvals needed to begin construction.


Posted by lumi at 6:49 PM

February 9, 2008

Knowing the landscape: how Miralles outpaced Gehry


Atlantic Yards Report looks at the differences between Gehry and another 'wavy' builder, Enrique Miralles, as seen by critic Sarah Williams Goldhagen in the Feb. 13 issue of The New Republic...

Goldhagen suggests the issue is not so much sculpture but landscape:
When these projects take off into curves, it is because Miralles and company decided that curves are what a particular architectural challenge evoked. There is no aggressive monumentality here, no cookie-cutter high-end product dumped wherever the money exists to pay for it. There is, instead, sensitivity and study. Miralles and his colleagues receptively investigated the landscape and the site. They considered when and how the people who were to use the structure or the landscape might live in, move through, and prospect space; how they might touch, and imagine touching, surfaces. Sure, they made use of computers to actualize their ideas. But their architecture neither starts nor stops with skin, or with what digital technology offers. Steeped in architecture's history, Miralles used architectural precedents when they offered reasonable solutions to problems that, in the words of Viennese modernist Adolf Loos, had already been solved. Steeped in art, nature, and local traditions, Miralles playfully engaged architecture's metaphorical possibilities.


Posted by amy at 10:04 AM

February 7, 2008

Real Estate Round-Up

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

This week's Round-Up notes the strange claim by Forest City Ratner that Frank Gehry is a Brooklyn native.

Forest City Ratner’s attorney may be trying to help the company change the future of Brooklyn, but he is also changing the past, according to the AtlanticYardsReport blog. The blog reported that in the case challenging an environmental review of the Atlantic Yards project, pre-appeals papers prepared by Ratner attorney Jeffrey Braun falsely claim project designer Frank Gehry to be a “Brooklyn native.” According to the blog, the line reads: “The project is being designed by Frank Gehry, a California-based Brooklyn native who is one of the preeminent American architects of our era.” By all other accounts, Gehry was born in Toronto, Canada, and now resides in Los Angeles, Calif.

The blog allows the mistake to be just that: an innocent mistake, which it probably is.


Posted by steve at 5:19 AM

February 6, 2008

Square Feet: A Plan to Open a 1980 Gehry Mall Design to the Air

The New York Times
by Terry Pristin

Frank Gehry won acclaim as an innovative architect when he redesigned his home in this beachside city. But another local Gehry design, the enclosed 1980 mall known as Santa Monica Place, has long been regarded as obsolete — a suburban-style shopping center that turns its back on a thriving urban corridor.

The mall is often described as a “cork” that cuts off pedestrian traffic from the adjacent Third Street Promenade, a pedestrians-only shopping strip that has been hugely popular since it was refurbished in 1989. In redeveloping the mall, the original back door will be opened up, the steps will be replaced by a ramp, and brick pavers and jacaranda trees will be added, echoing those at the Promenade across the street.


NoLandGrab: Hmmm, "a suburban-style shopping center that turns its back" on the neighborhood. No wonder Frank and Bruce are such bosom (liberal, do-gooder) buddies.

Posted by eric at 4:48 PM

February 4, 2008

Forest City Ratner attorney claims Gehry as a Brooklyn native

Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder spots a strange claim in Forest City legal papers.

It's a not-terribly relevant exaggeration, a sign perhaps of carelessness or litigation overkill, but Frank Gehry, the Toronto-born architect who said he was inspired by a Brooklyn bride, is apparently a Brooklynite, at least according to a Forest City Ratner attorney.


NoLandgrab: Would the monstrous Miss Brooklyn be any better if Gehry had spent his youth playing Johnny on the Pony and stoop ball?

Posted by steve at 7:05 AM

January 22, 2008

Before Gehry joined Ratner: "one architect" model was wrong way to go

Atlantic Yards Report


In February 2002, some months (presumably) before developer Bruce Ratner asked him to work alone on the Atlantic Yards project (and towers over the Atlantic Center mall), architect Frank Gehry suggested that a "one architect" model to build "sections of the city" was precisely the wrong way to go.

The video from the annual TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference has just been posted. Gehry's musings on the issue began at about 12:28, under the "City building" segment.
The question is why he agreed; perhaps the opportunity to build his first arena, and a "neighborhood practically from scratch" trumped Gehry's qualms about the "one architect" model.

The Regional Plan Association, using a somewhat different gloss on the term Gehry used, argued last May that Atlantic Yards shows we must get much better at "city building."


Posted by lumi at 5:18 AM

January 21, 2008

"Nice building. Then what?" Frank Gehry on TED.com

Interview with Frank Gehry, February, 2002


Frank Gehry wanted to be a scientist when he grew up. But after blowing up a part of his house, at age 14, he decided against it. He's gone on to create some mindblowing buildings, including the Guggenheim at Bilbao and LA's Walt Disney Concert Hall. This wildly entertaining conversation with Richard Saul Wurman (then host of TED) touches on many topics, including the power of failure, the importance of collaboration, and the need for architects to bring personal expression to the table. (Recorded February 2002 in Monterey, California. Duration: 22:00.)



"When I came out of college, I started to try to do things contextually... and I tried to understand that language as a beginning as a place to jump off. There was so much of it being done by spec builders, it was trivialized so much, that I just stopped.... It didn't feel good to me."

"The issue of city building in democracy is interesting because it creates chaos. Everybody doing their things creates a very chaotic environment. If you can figure out how to work off each other, if you can get a bunch of people who respect each other's work and play off each other, you might be able to create models for how to build sections of the city without resorting to the one-architect (like the Rockefeller Center, model) model, which is kinda from another era."

[...or Atlantic Yards, which makes you wonder if Gehry gets much sleep these days.]

"Bilbao did not leak — I was so proud. The MIT project... sent the facilities people to Bilbao... they were there for three days and it rained everyday. They kept walking around, I noticed they were looking under things... they wanted to know where the buckets were hidden. I was clean, there wasn't a bloody leak in the place — it was fantastic. Well, up until every building leaked."

[Uh, oh...]

Posted by lumi at 4:52 AM

January 1, 2008

The Paradoxes of Starchitecture

GehrySketches.jpg Picketing Henry Ford

Stuart Schrader examines the rise of the starchitect and explains how individual style contributes to commodification and banalization of their own work.

Is Gehry Gehryfying Tiffany’s when he loans (well, sells) his brand to the jewelry maker or is Tiffany’s Tiffanyfying Gehry? I suppose it’s both, to the detriment of the individuality of each.


Posted by lumi at 7:22 PM

December 30, 2007

Gehry és New York – szeretem, nem-szeretem


If anyone has Hungarian language skills, feel free to visit the blog directly. The best translation we could find (Babelfish does not include Hungarian!) goes something like this:

Regrettable , that Gehry eme quality not run into outcrop one other , afoot lev New York i his work során , the brooklyni Atlantic Yard in the event of. THE then kilenchektáros its territory stray felhkarcolócsoport Gehry yet biggest consignation , which through months trending disputations kereszttüzében she stood. ( last year the authority the concourse os reduction írták off , but the projection yet that way also gigantic ) The constructional negatived according to the lakótorony bite tow the Forte Greenwich and the Flyer Heights városrész amongst. Yet the development directional Bruce Ratnert substantiated , to that hintingly , that Gehry celebrities uses up the eleve he's bad planting presztízsének raising. THE Slate magazine posted Gehry nek solo candid epistolary Jonathan Lethem , the renowned penman this writes : " unable am was it worth , that such a passible man , than Your are , that it had been susceptible such censurable league kötni , whose definitely disastrous outgrowths they'll be "

This all makes sense when the title translates to the Borat-esque "do you like , not - do you like."


Posted by amy at 8:02 AM

MIT Sues Frank Gehry Over Buggy $300M CS Building

vomit.JPG Slashdot
For anyone interested in what the smart kids have to say about working in a Gehry masterpiece, the MIT building was slashdotted. One former employee of the building had this to say after visiting:

The interior spaces are very architecturally interesting. But have so many bugs it is unbelievable. There is one meeting room where the walls are made with perforated plywood; this is a cool idea, but, regrettably, due to the mechanisms that human vision uses to fuse the images between the two eyes, the sea of holes makes people feel queasy in that room. The workspaces are part of a grand open-office design. The previous building where LCS/AI was housed was the antithesis of open design -- a series of small offices -- and it worked very well. With the new building, researchers and students spend more of their time at home, rather than in the building, because the lack of acoustic privacy in the open design makes it extremely difficult to get any research done. In another area, there are ledges high up in one two-story space that are visible only from the story above -- kind of interesting, but these ledges will never, ever be cleaned and are starting to accumulate a goodly layer of dust. This wouldn't be so bad, except that people entering that space from the elevator lobby are immediately faced with this grime.

From what people intimately involved with the planning have told me, Geary approached the design of this building with astonishing hubris and disregard for any of the actual needs of the occupants. Interactions with him were often tense and acrimonious. Geary's willing ignorance of the real use of the building, rather than his imagined fantasy, shows. It's a cool looking structure that works very, very poorly as a research laboratory. Although few people who work there are willing to state it out loud, the rumblings are being felt that the decline of computer science research at MIT has in no small part been due to this negative influence of the building on daily worklife.

A current employee in the building was also not impressed:

There's a brief interview with Gehry in the film "My Architect" about Louis Kahn, and Gehry was interviewed in his architectural office, and it's as traditional as you could imagine: a big rectangular room with drafting tables. That settled it for me: it's not just hubris; he's an asshole. He sits in his comfortable space and designs expensive torture chambers; there's a Gehry-designed level of hell awaiting him.


Posted by amy at 7:49 AM

December 20, 2007

A Gehry Funny for Thursday



Posted by steve at 11:45 AM

December 4, 2007

Gehry flunks MIT


Posted by lumi at 6:10 AM

November 22, 2007


HAPPY THANKSGIVING! This year, we are giving out free turkeys to a few NoLandGrab All-Stars.

Turkey-Ratner.jpg The Turkey Trot...
is awarded to Bruce Ratner, the Empire State Development Corporation, and the New York Police Department for dancing around the terrorism and security issue.

The Leaky Turkey...
goes to Frank Gehry, who came up with this canard last week: "My name is Frank Gehry, and my buildings don't leak." Like, ok, at least half that sentence is true.

The Jive Turkey...
will be delivered to Eliot Spitzer's home, because today is day 325 after "day one," when "everything changes" (except in Ratnerville). One thing that actually has changed is the Governor's approval rating.

goes to the ombudsman, because he or she is not real either.

Leftover Turkey...
will be served to the folks who are working on the UNITY plan, just in case this project doesn't happen and someone is looking for a plan B.

The red herring stuffed in a land grab, stuffed in a boondoggle, goes to the proverbial three men in a room (you know who you are).

Turkey Gravy...
will be on Vito Lopez's table this holiday, for sneakily inserting a special clause in 421(a) "reform" legislation that delivers special affordable housing subsidies to Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan.

The "Gobble Gobble" Award
This year's recipient is none other than Bruce Ratner, for taking down every building he possibly can in the Atlantic Yards footprint.

Posted by lumi at 9:00 AM

November 13, 2007

Frank Gehry: has the bubble burst?

The First Post
By Charles Laurence


Superstar architect Frank Gehry is being sued by MIT - the Massachusetts Institute of Technology renowned for technological innovation - and the court action suggests that the Gehry bubble may be about to burst.
Gehry, 78, became America's most celebrated architect since Frank Lloyd Wright after building the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He has since created a host of other buildings which have captured the imaginations of both critics and the public. The latest is billionaire Barry Diller's headquarters in Manhattan, which suggest billowing sails on the Hudson river. But do they work?

Guess what Bruce Ratner and Frank Gehry have in common? We'd tell you, but we have to check with our lawyers first:

Contracts with Gehry Partners turn out to have clauses gagging public criticism or complaint, so now critics are wondering whether problems are being covered-up at Bilbao and other famous buildings.


Posted by lumi at 5:19 AM

November 12, 2007

Frank Gehry Environmental Impact Hall of Fame

When centuries of architectural wisdom and common sense are rejected for the sake of art, you end up with a career highlighted by some mind-boggling environmental impacts:

Who cares about personal safety when you're visiting a work of art?

Though folks like to sneer at the curious brown stain that appeared on the facade of the iconic building ("The New York Times reports Mr Gehry as saying that the problem arose when the building contractor allowed a silicon-based fireproofing sealant to spill onto the titanium" — BBC), the more serious environmental impact is the poorly designed public spaces that only appear to be inviting to muggers.

Project for Public Spaces has inducted the museum into its very own Hall of Shame:

Though it is near the center of the city, the Guggenheim shuns any relation to its context. The building challenges locals and tourists (not to mentioned handicapped people) to enter some of the least inviting public spaces and entranceways anywhere.
Only seconds after I took the pictures, the two men ran over to the couple and mugged them – they simply grabbed the camera out of their hands and ran off. Anywhere else in Bilbao, we would have yelled something and there would have been people around to try stopping them. But instead, with no one else in sight to help, we felt isolated and vulnerable, and all we could do was watch. We later told police about it, and they told us that there are muggings in that same location very frequently.


The shiny, swirling $62 million building that houses the business school at Case Western Reserve University here is a marvel to behold. But it is sometimes best admired from afar.


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.''

2003, gunman loose in a labyrinth

The [seven-hour] standoff took place inside one of the more idiosyncratic buildings in the country. The $61.7 million Weatherhead School of Management was designed by the architect Frank Gehry and opened for this past school year. It is characterized by the jagged, polished metal surface and odd shapes that are prominent in Mr. Gehry's designs.

That made for a "constant cat-and-mouse game," said Chief Edward Lohn of the Cleveland police, with SWAT team members exchanging gunfire with the suspect as he ran to different floors, peeking and firing around corners.

"There are no right angles in the building," Chief Lohn said at a news conference late tonight, shortly after the suspect was taken into custody.

NoLandGrab: Gehry certainly isn't to blame for the 2003 rampage in which one person was killed, but it does call into question the manner in which people are forced to interact with his buildings.

If you can't take the heat... (then don't hire a starchitect)

Throughout the summer, passing motorists reported being distracted by the reflected rays, while pedestrians described having to cross the street to avoid the intense heat.

The report, which was delivered to local politicians last week, said temperatures on sidewalks adjacent to the concert hall reached higher than 58 C [136 F].

The panels were eventually sandblasted to reduce the glare, at a cost of $180,000 to the taxpayers.

All wet

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge, one of the most celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.

Fool me twice...
Oh, and as in the case of Case Western, the Stata Center has problems with "sliding ice and snow." With any luck, maybe global warming will take care of that problem and Gehry will be deemed prescient.

Posted by lumi at 2:47 PM



NY Post
By Kyle Smith

StataCenter-NYP.jpgWhen there are problems with Frank Gehry's buildings, the startchitect's response is to blame the victim. MIT is the latest of several high-profile projects that display a sincere lack of common sense — will Brooklyn be next?

In a lawsuit first reported by the Boston Globe last week, MIT alleged that the three-year-old Stata Center, one of Gehry's trademark designs from the Four Car Pileup school of architecture, is already suffering from cracks in its amphitheater because of poor drainage, as well as widespread leaks that have been there since virtually the day the building opened. In winter, outdoor mini-avalanching turns entrances into hard hat zones.

Professors at the MIT building - including Noam Chomsky - complain that they can't put in bookcases (the walls are tilted) and they're living in a zoo because of the open plan's lack of privacy (actually, it's more like living in a petri dish - there's mold growing on the outside). People with IQs that exceed Queen Latifah's weight have complained that they get lost in the maze-like internal layout. One of the conference rooms stuck into the roof is so bizarrely shaped that a third or more of all visitors - including Gehry himself - suffer dizzy spells in it.

One of Gehry's most praised creations had to be torn up because its floor was too slippery for women in heels. Who could have expected fashionable women to congregate in such a space - the Conde Nast Cafeteria here in Midtown?
Gehry is diluting his cool factor so quickly - now he's designing jewelry, wristwatches and the Wyborowa Vodka bottle - that he seems determined to become the Pierre Cardin of design, and once his stuff is everywhere, as it soon will be, future generations will look at his jumbly faddish structures the way we look at shoulder pads or hoop skirts. When he builds the Ground Zero arts center and the new home of the Brooklyn Nets, will he embarrass us the way he has so many others?


Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

Gehry on the "uplifting effect" of "real architecture"

GehryProfileBlue.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

According to Frank Gehry, "Real architecture tends to have an uplifting effect on the people that experience it, and it creates identifiable icons—like the Sydney Opera House—that brand a city, even a country."

Would Atlantic Yards be uplifting or just another "ego trip?" And, what does it mean when your brand is "drunken robots?"


Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

November 9, 2007

Gehry sued! Cracks at MIT cast doubt on ‘Miss Brooklyn’

The Brooklyn Paper
By Gersh Kuntzman


Gehry Partners, the architect’s Los Angeles-based firm, was paid $15 million for the Stata Center design. The innovative building, which Gehry once said “looks like a party of drunken robots got together to celebrate,” has been hailed by critics and its users since it opened in spring, 2004.

But its janitors were never fans.

Almost immediately, according to the suit, the center’s outdoor amphitheater began to crack due to drainage problems. And snow and ice slid dangerously down the angled roofs and piled up in ways that blocked emergency exits.

Mold grew on the exterior and there were regular leaks in the roof, the suit continued.
Gehry is currently designing Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development, which has the 52-story Miss Brooklyn tower — and an 18,000-seat basketball arena — as its focal points. A spokesman for Forest City Ratner declined to comment on whether the company was concerned about the design issues raised by the M.I.T. lawsuit.

The arena will be built with public money — and Ratner’s relocated New Jersey Nets would only be a tenant in the state-owned building, said a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation, which is partnering with Ratner to build the $4-billion Atlantic Yards project.

The spokesman declined to explain if the public or Ratner would have to pay to repair any flaws in Gehry’s design.
Gehry did not respond to requests for comment from The Brooklyn Paper, but he did tell the New York Times that new buildings such as his “are complicated.”
it’s not the first time that Gehry has had problems at one of his trend-setting buildings. In 2004, he sandblasted parts of his celebrated Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles after people complained that the aluminum skin caused a blinding glare.

A swirling, $62-million building that Gehry designed for Case Western Reserve in Cleveland was likened by the New York Times to “a tanning mirror” that “sent snow and ice sliding off the sloping stainless-steel roof onto the heads of pedestrians below.”

The Times also reported that three years after Gehry’s celebrated Guggenheim Bilbao opened in 1997, brown stains on the titanium exterior provoked embarrassment and finger-pointing. Gehry said at the time that it was simply a matter of cleaning.


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

MIT Sues Gehry for "Design and Construction Failures"

Online Preservation

Starchitecht Frank Gehry blames the victim:


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week filed a lawsuit against Frank Gehry's architecture firm, citing design flaws in its Stata Center, completed in 2004.

"I think the issues are fairly minor," Gehry told the New York Times. "MIT is after our insurance."

The suit says that the school in Cambridge, Mass., paid $1.5 million to repair the cracked walls of the amphitheater earlier this year. Gehry told the Times, "The client chose not to put certain devices on the roofs, to save money."
Gehry has been compared to Frank Lloyd Wright, who, when a client complained that his new house's ceiling leaked water onto the dining room table, replied, "Move your chair."


Posted by lumi at 5:36 AM

November 8, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Here's what they're saying:

Cup Crazy's National Hockey League blog, Future hope for Devils and Newark pinned on Prudential Center's success

Original plans during this decade had the New Jersey Nets seeking the move to Newark when YankeeNets operated that franchise, but roadblocks in ultimately sealing any agreement to build a new arena there killed it. After squabbling among the YankeeNets ownership group investors led to the eventual sale of the Nets in August 2004, new owner Bruce Ratner announced his intentions to relocate that team to the New York City borough of Brooklyn. So far, an arena project has been put together. It has been endorsed by state and city officials as well as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to built it in Brooklyn's Prospect Heights section of the city. Plus, the arena naming rights has already been sold. However, despite all of that, it is not completely 100% certain that the New Jersey Nets will ultimately end up moving there. There are still a few obstacles remaining such as court hearings on eminent domain issues concerning the surrounding areas of the Atlantic Yards, a mixed-use commercial and residential development area where the arena would be built. All of these obstacles have to be cleared before an official groundbreaking can take place and seal the Nets' future.

Tubious, James L. Stuckey

A short bio of the recently terminated President of the Atlantic Yards Development Group.

NolandGrab: We're fairly certain that it's James P. Stuckey — "that's a capital... "P" that stands for pool." (Hey, Stuckey always did remind us of The Music Man.)

Medium Happiness, Seriously You Shouldn’t Have Gone To Columbia
How greedy is Columbia University? Some believe, as greedy as Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner:

I read about a group of students that are (or at this point might have already begun) waging a hunger strike to protest the egregious, indefensible transgressions of Columbia University over the past “decade”. It was not long ago that I myself attended a very wealthy, urban school in another city. On a certain level, I can identify with their plight. Ineffably wealthy schools like Columbia, NYU, or George Washington have a knack for overlooking the little people in pursuit of what they are really after–making more money. But, there is one thing, if anything, that you learn once you’ve walked and breathed the rarified air of these places–they cannot be stopped. Much like Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn or Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC, Columbia will develop and gobble up what it pleases.

Queens Crap, Coming soon to Atlantic Yards...
It's high-artchitecture, but is it waterproof?

Posted by lumi at 4:39 AM

November 7, 2007

Scary Gehry

AP, via MetroNY


Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

November 6, 2007

MIT sues Gehry, citing leaks in $300m complex

Blames famed architect for flaws at Stata Center

The Boston Globe
By Shelley Murphy

StataCenter-BG.jpgWhile we spent our day in reverie, trying to imagine a life without developer Bruce Ratner, starchitect Frank Gehry and eminent domain abuse, the following story was sent to us by several hundreds of NoLandGrab readers.

When it rains it pours:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge, one of the most celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.

The suit says that MIT paid Los Angeles-based Gehry Partners $15 million to design the Stata Center, which was hailed by critics as innovative and eye-catching with its unconventional walls and radical angles. But soon after its completion in spring 2004, the center's outdoor amphitheater began to crack due to drainage problems, the suit says. Snow and ice cascaded dangerously from window boxes and other projecting roof areas, blocking emergency exits and damaging other parts of the building, according to the suit. Mold grew on the center's brick exterior, the suit says, and there were persistent leaks throughout the building.


NoLandGrab: Window boxes in the same style as those mentioned above are depicted in four of Laurie Olin's Atlantic Yards sketches — at least Brooklynites and Ratner have been forewarned.

Posted by lumi at 9:14 PM

November 1, 2007

Guggenheim Bilbao

The Guardian
By Phil Olterman and Jonathan Bell

GuggenheimBilbao.jpg An article about the Frank Gehry "Bilbao Effect" also covers some of the controversial back story:

Running a city took a step closer to computer simulation with the apparent discovery of the "Bilbao Effect". The fabled consequence of Gehry's great swoops of titanium was a huge influx of tourist money, as culture filled the void left by Bilbao's fading industry. That, at least, was the theory. The truth wasn't quite so black and white, but it didn't stop planeloads of mayoral deputations arriving from around the world, all eager to imitate its success. Everyone wanted their own culture magnet, often calling up Gehry himself and effectively asking him to replicate the scheme.
The initial plans for a Guggenheim museum in Bilbao were not without controversy. Funded entirely by the host country but masterminded from New York, many Basque commentators, including the now-banned separatist party Herri Batasuna, saw the museum as a sign of cultural imperialism, an economically motivated attempt to purge the region of its history. A week before the opening gala in October 1997, police officer José María Aguirre was shot and killed after he interrupted a group of Eta terrorists disguised as gardeners, who tried to plant remote-controlled grenades in the Jeff Koons sculpture outside the museum. When the Spanish monarchs, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia officially opened the museum on October 18, police snipers watched on from the rooftops of surrounding buildings. Whether Gehry's building actually erases the city's cultural heritage, as Eta suggested, is debatable. Bilbao is famous for its maritime history: after Barcelona, it has Spain's largest port. Gehry's building, which edges on to the Nervión riverfront and has been likened by many to a shipwreck, seems to pay tribute to its own surroundings.


Posted by lumi at 4:45 AM

October 25, 2007

Frank Gehry


The world's preeminent starchitecht and his designs for Atlantic Yards have officially been deemed cow pies:


Frank Gehry is bullshit. His buildings (with the exception of one) do not have any connection between their form and function, which I see as the highest calling in architecture. One should be invited in, made curious to know what is inside, given a clue as to what activity goes on inside. The most beautiful buildings in NY provoke thoughts of big business and commerce, and their height a statement of the importance of the city that they reside.
Lastly, he is designing the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, which no matter what the architecture is destroying the unique, small scale, villagy feel of the borough I love. And Gehry's disastrous designs only heighten the effect. Bullshit!


Posted by lumi at 8:51 AM

October 16, 2007

Gehry's (two) seductive NYC projects

CondeNastCafe.jpg Atlantic Yards Report

Norman Oder takes a NYC Gehry tour to learn more about the starchitect's work:

Future New York-based clients of starchitect Frank Gehry need not travel to see his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or his Disney Hall performing arts center in Los Angeles. A sense of his seductively sinuous architecture is available via visits to his two completed projects, the InterActive (IAC) building (2007) in West Chelsea, and the corporate dining room and cafeteria (2000) at the Condé Nast building at 4 Times Square.

I paid $50 for the privilege of visiting the two on Oct. 12, joining a tour sponsored by Architectural Digest (a Condé Nast publication), as part of their Architecture Days celebration. And the work is quite impressive, though it doesn’t give much of a clue as to what Gehry would produce on a much larger scale for Atlantic Yards.


Posted by lumi at 9:59 AM

September 28, 2007

On the Road with "the Lid"

On the Road

A description of Atlantic Yards and Frank Gehry's totally insipid story of how he named "Miss Brooklyn" turns into a laugh riot when the original Chinese gets mangled by machine translation (via babelfish.altavista.com).

BTW: "The lid" they keep mentioning is "Gehry."


All these motley colors, all these sincere Victoria type construction, took his starry night recollected a monochromatic background will be very wonderful. [Gehry] rides in a carriage along the urban district seeks the inspiration, and not only pays attention to a block or a resident organizes, moreover pays attention to a bride, in a movie slow motion. In the lid, this building domain movie direct, had found the lead which he imagines. He calls her to be called "Miss Brew Kelin" (Miss Brooklyn), and uses in an architectural complex central construction □□wave shape this name to do by the white glass the wall surface the tall building. In the Brew Kelin, the picture in Los Angeles, in the lid is designing a medium city. In the lid and the developer all cannot undertake a simple mistake. With "the Atlantic field" the central area will relate in together, after will peacefully have peacefully 住宅街, the busy key communication line, "the Long Island railroad company" the station, a subway central station, will leave uncultivated "the industrial district", the magnificent and expensive long street, a shopping market, a fast-food factory, the new office building, "the Brew Kelin conservatory" the periphery cultural area, has the historical significance the street. Nearly all these facilities all are revolving the space which Ratner vainly hoped for. 抗议者 in art is correct: "The Atlantic field", "Miss Brew Kelin" and the competition location, all violates the spirit which the Brew Kelin constructs. But if the neighbouring area successfully causes this plan to suffer setbacks, they possibly finally feel the regret. They possibly use massive "sensitive" and "and the environment coordination" the plane brown decoration □□slightly big spot development, but far is also mean spirited than the lid in design. This kind of choice looks like a little likes a Ratner recent project □□"the Atlantic center market" (Atlantic Center Mall).


NoLandGrab: It's hard to tell exactly what the author thinks about "the Atlantic Field" critics, but here are some hints: "mean spirited" and "they possibly finally feel the regret" (i.e. "they'll be sorry") if they stop the project.

We're looking forward to the "fast-food factory" because the one Ratner calls Atlantic Terminal Mall isn't "cheesy" enough.

Posted by lumi at 10:49 AM

September 21, 2007

Pretty Expensive

BeekmanStage-sm.jpgIs Bruce Ratner having trouble financing his first Gehry-designed project?

From "Under Cover," the Downtown Express's real estate column:

Frank Gehry’s current design for the Beekman St. tower and K-8 school is spectacular but may never see the light of day because of developer Bruce Ratner’s financing problems, a source tells UnderCover.

Ratner has never released any pictures of the building model because he may want the celebrity architect to shave some costs and fancy features off the tower, our source says, adding that the developer does not yet have the loan to build. The tipster doesn’t think the project is in danger of falling apart, but the school opening may get delayed.

“It’s drop-dead gorgeous,” says our source, who has seen the model and is sympathetic to community concerns about the building’s height. The wavy tower “looks like the ocean’s above you.”


NoLandGrab: Clearly, Gehry and Ratner's caginess is beginning to raise suspicion, since real estate spectators have been eagerly awaiting the final renderings for some time (see, here, here, and here).

We've been keeping tabs on this project, the first Gehry-designed Forest City Ratner collaboration. Though the Beekman St. tower might appear to have little in common with the controversial Atlantic Yards megaproject, two things are worth tracking:

[Back in April, Matthew Schuerman reported in The NY Observer some details of the financing structure of the Beekman Street project, including a few stumbling blocks.]

Posted by lumi at 9:59 AM

September 12, 2007

Real Estate Round-Up, September 11, 2007

Brooklyn Daily Eagle carried two items in the "Round-Up:"

CBS News (uh, actually it was the Weekly Standard, via CBSNews.com) reports that the financial benefit to taxpayers and the local economy is negligible at best, and perhaps negative.

And you can start holding your breath, because Frank Gehry will be unveiling his redesign of the first phase of Atlantic Yards any day now, according to an architecture column in the New York Times.


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM

September 9, 2007

Architectural Shifts, Global and Local

New York Times

Another huge project is the $4 billion Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, and Frank Gehry will soon unveil his redesign of its first phase, so it will soon become clear whether Brooklyn will receive a dazzling 21st-century version of Rockefeller Center or a conventional retail-entertainment-sports complex inside a pretty architectural wrapper.


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

September 6, 2007

Frank Gehry Plays Ball

H&G Blog: The Itinerant Urbanist
By Karrie Jacobs

An urban-planning critic notes the similarities between Frank Gehry's Lehi project and Atlantic Yards:

The scope of the project calls to mind the four-billion dollar, 22 acre Gehry-designed Atlantic Yards project here in Brooklyn which is tied to an arena for the New Jersey Nets, now owned by the project's developer Bruce Ratner. Except that, at the moment, the good people of Lehi, Utah, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, seem more enthusiastic about this sort of big ticket scheme than we Brooklynites. I suspect that the Utah plan doesn't involve the always unpopular practice of taking people's homes and businesses through eminent domain. Or maybe the young Utah developer just did a better job at wooing the locals.
I do think it's telling that Gehry has moved well beyond the world of highbrow architecture, the meticulously sculpted museums and campus buildings that made him famous, and has plunged headlong into the mosh pit of major commercial development. In an ideal world, this would suggest that American developers are aspiring to greatness, but the view from here, a few blocks west of the Atlantic Yards site, is less overtly sunny; it appears that Gehry's firm (now called Gehry Partners) has simply grown to a size where it needs those big developer-driven projects to maintain cash flow.


Posted by lumi at 9:05 AM

September 1, 2007

News Flash: New Yorkers Don't Like Atlantic Yards

Architectural Record

The Architectural Record reports on plans for Frank Gehry-designed sports facility in Lehi, Utah. The top of the story reveals how displeased New Yorkers are with Atlantic Yards.


Frank Gehry must be hoping that when it comes to winning public support for a large, basketball-anchored mixed-use development, his second shot at such a project is a slam dunk. Although New Yorkers panned his Nets / Atlantic Yards scheme, which continues to be dogged by legal challenges, Bloomberg reported on August 30 that Gehry is designing a $2 billion development 30 miles south of Salt Lake City in the small town of Lehi, Utah, adjacent to a 10,000-seat arena he’s also designing for the Utah Flash. (This NBA expansion team begins its first season of play in November.) The 85-acre project, developed by team owner Brandt Andersen, will feature a 450-foot-tall hotel tower—Utah’s tallest building—retail shops, residences, and two manmade lakes.

Designs are still being finalized for the project, which does not yet appear to have a name, but Andersen told Bloomberg that the architecture will “‘look substantially different’ from anything else Gehry has done.” Groundbreaking is set for 2008 and the arena component could be ready by 2009.

NoLandGrab: Here's another enormous "mixed-use development" (85-acres) that features a professional basketball arena. Everybody -- hold onto your wallets!


Original source about this development from Bloomberg

Posted by steve at 7:07 AM

August 23, 2007

Три грации / IAC Headquarters

Live Journal

"dispatcher" wrote:

К Фрэнку Гери, одному из самых культовых архитекторов современности, Нью-Йорк был не шибко ласков - показывал ему козью морду в течение 20 лет. Все проекты Гери либо сразу отвергались заказчиками, либо принимались и утверждались, чтобы уже затем пойти прахом и прорасти травой забвения. А там, где слабину давали заказчики, стеной вставала патриотическая общественноать, как в относительно свежем случае с мегапроектом реконструкции Atlantic Yards в Бруклине - идеи Гери, поддержанные мэрией, вызывают бурные протесты многочисленных тамошних жителей. Против этого проекта выступают аж 53 организации. На их сайтах потрясенный посетитель может увидеть компьютерные симуляции того, как гигантские постройки Гери гробят необъятную бруклинскую ширь, посягая на неотъемлемое право бруклинцев вечно наслаждаться уходящими за горизонт сараями, пакгаузами и свалками своего детсва.

...which means, something like (via Babelfish):

To Frank Geri, one of the quite cult architects of the present, New York was not quickly affectionate - it showed to it goat snout for 20 years. All projects of Geri either immediately rejected by customers or they started and they were asserted in order already then to go by dust germinate by grass of oblivion. But, where customers gave the slack, by wall arose patriotic to obshchestvennoat', as in the relatively fresh case with the mega-project of reconstruction Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn - the ideas of Geri, supported by city hall, cause the stormy protests of numerous local inhabitants. Against this project speak azh 53 organizations. On their sites the shaken visitor can see the computer simulations of that how the gigantic buildings of Geri tyuey grobyat immense Brooklyn expanse, encroaching on the inherent right of bruklintsev eternally to delight in by the sheds outgoing beyond the horizon, with warehouses and by the dumps of its detsva.

NoLandGrab: We'd like to remind каждое that "Atlantic Yards" is the brand name of mega-project of Geri, and though it is "encroaching on the inherent right of bruklintsev," it doesn't yet exist, and therefore, is not a "reconstruction."

Posted by lumi at 8:14 AM

August 21, 2007

Blimey, Gehry goes batty in Blighty!

From Brit in Brooklyn:

After years of often rancorous debate, Frank Gehry's scheme for the Brighton and Hove seafront in Blighty is a go. Back in 2003, the Independent's Jay Merrick predicted that "[t]he Californian's vision will launch a thousand metaphors: crumpled trousers patched with Shreddies, ice lollies jammed into shattered Cornettos...an expletive-cum-exclamation mark marking the end of the promenade."


NoLandGrab: You gotta be impressed by the starchitect's ability to create massive projects that primarily exist in relation to themselves (sure, blame it on "the program"). Though the fortress-like enclave will block their seaviews, Hovites will surely be comforted by the bulwarks' undulating rooflines.

Like "the Bride that Ate Brooklyn" (Atlantic Yards' signature tower inanely dubbed "Miss Brooklyn"), the Hove project was presumably inspired by a romantic female ideal: this time it's Victorian Maidens.

Posted by lumi at 11:04 AM

August 10, 2007

The Anti-Gehry?

Picketing Henry Ford

Stuart Schrader picks up where Norman Oder left off with Nicolai Ouroussoff's profile of Àlvaro Siza, which contrasted the Portuguese architect's work with that of Post-modern international starchitects like Frank Gehry. bilbao_town.jpg

Discussing a current museum project in Brazil, where Siza’s father was born, Ouroussoff writes “Ultimately the passageways are yet again a way of drawing out the time spent in thought, allowing us to absorb more fully what we have just experienced. In a way the are Mr. Siza’s rejoinder to the ruthless pace of globabl consumerism.” Generalizing, he continues, “In that respect the building echoes projects by a sprinkling of architects who are seemingly in revolt against he psychic damage wrought by a relentless barrage of marketing images.”

NoLandGrab: This highlighted passage brings to mind Gehry's plan to turn the façade, ceiling and floor of the arena into spectacular animated billboards.

Gehry’s Bilbao, and Atlantic Yards to an even greater degree, represent a return to the faith in technology in an encounter not with a benefactor’s faith in liberal democracy but in the financial derivative, speculative capital, the offshore tax shelter, the destabilized currency. It is not a faith in openness, nor does it value formal transparency as Modernist architecture did. Rather, it is a paranoid faith in cloistering, secrecy, and hidden economistic decision making. It is a belief that the opposition can be bought and that their social concerns have a price that can be calculated, and met, if not capitalized on as risk.


Posted by lumi at 10:13 AM

Gehry, the Guardian and Atlantic Yards

Alongside this photo of current work in the Vanderbilt Railyard, Brit in Brooklyn featured yesterday's UK Guardian review of architect Frank Gehry's IAC building and hints of the reviewer's skepticism about Atlantic Yards.

NoLandGrab: We have no clue exactly what they're building there, but it is amazingly Gehryesque.


"Gehry has finally arrived in New York. But when Atlantic Yards is completed in 2017, will he wish he had never done so?"

NOTE: According to the construction timeline, Atlantic Yards, if built, will probably not be completed in 2017, since the project is already behind schedule.


Posted by lumi at 9:27 AM

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

The Guardian

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 8:13 AM

July 29, 2007

That's Quite a Rock


Wall Street Journal

Retail prices for rough-diamond jewelry vary considerably, from $600 for a small uncut diamond set in a stainless steel ring at De Beers to $750,000 one-of-a-kind necklace of pearls and rough diamonds by Frank Gehry at Tiffany.

But because some of the usual key standards for assessing a diamond's value, such as cut and clarity, don't apply to uncut stones, it can be tough for consumers to evaluate pricing. "It's pretty much a blind purchase for consumers," says Tom Moses, a senior vice president at Gemological Institute of America, which set the widely used "4C" standards (cut, color, carat and clarity) for cut diamonds. The institute doesn't have a system for evaluating uncut diamonds.


NoLandGrab: The "4C" standard can also be applied to the Atlantic Yards proposal: tax Cuts, division on Color lines, Clarity of the public process, and the dangling Carat. (ok, wrong carrot, but try finding a pun on carat!)

Posted by amy at 10:12 AM

July 24, 2007

Gehry seeks payout for superstarchive

Gehry-Reutrs.jpgYesterday, the NY Times ran an article about how starchitect Frank Gehry is looking for top dollar for his archive.

For Architects, Personal Archives as Gold Mines

In reflecting on where a long career’s worth of architectural drawings and models will ultimately go, Frank Gehry is not focusing strictly on institutions that he feels close to — like the Guggenheim Museum, say, for which he designed a famous satellite branch in Bilbao, Spain. He’s trying to determine which place will pony up.

“I don’t want to give it away — it’s an asset,” Mr. Gehry said. “It’s the one thing in your life you build up, and you own it. And I’ve been spending a lot of rent to preserve it.”

Mr. Gehry, 78, is among a small but influential number of celebrity architects who are considering selling their archives — which can include tens of thousands of objects, from multiple large-scale models and reams of drawings to correspondence and other records — even as they continue to practice.

Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report wonders what hidden treasures might be contained within.

The ($$$) Gehry archive and Atlantic Yards

So, let's assume a Gehry archive would include records of interaction with client Forest City Ratner. Would it include his infamous crack about Atlantic Yards protesters, "They should've been picketing Henry Ford"? His stated willingness to meet with community members "as soon as the guys let me"? His statement that "[n]ormally I would’ve brought in five other architects," but his client wouldn't let him?

And would the public ever get a look at the renderings and models behind the door at Oz, the Atlantic Yards Information Center?

Posted by lumi at 7:50 AM

July 12, 2007

How many stars can the skyline take?

If every city wants an iconic building, how will we tell when one is truly special?

The Times of London

Hugh Pearman attends the opening of the Tate Modern’s Global Cities exhibition, and realizes that we're at starchitect saturation, with Atlantic Yards designer Frank Gehry leading the way:

It’s when architects get to the point where you can’t keep track of all their work any more that the alarm bells start to ring. Big, important international landmarks have always been built, but they used to arrive rarely. There was nothing much between the Sydney Opera House competition of 1956 and the Pompidou Centre competition of 1970, for instance. Stuff got built, sure. Cultural buildings leavened the bread of spec office blocks; America went through a superscraper phase.
What everyone calls the “Bilbao effect”, after the jump-start impact Gehry’s Guggenheim had on the world perception of that grimy industrial city in the late 1990s, was the same as the Pompidou effect or the Sydney Opera House effect. Cultural buildings as giant sculptures, as identifiers, three-dimensional logos. That’s the aim.

One point that keeps coming up in the criticism of Frank Gehry and Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards scheme:

...such is the growth of the world’s cities that, for the first time, more than half of the world’s population lives in them. That has nothing to do with landmark buildings or the globetrotting signature architects who provide them. It is all to do with finding ways to accommodate everyone. When it comes to the way people live, good ordinary buildings count for a lot more than the headline sculptural stuff. Clean air and water count for a lot, too. But that’s not something you get fees for designing.

...or free land via eminent domain.


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

July 8, 2007

News Highlights of the Week: June 30 – July 6, 2007

Architectural Record

Although it’s perhaps a statement of the obvious, Frank Gehry’s services don’t come cheap. The starchitect commands more than $12 per-square-foot, three-times the industry average, for his work on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, according to a July 1 article in The New York Times. This pricey figure, and others, was contained in documents released as a result of a lawsuit against the developer, Forest City Ratner. Critics of the controversial project contend the financial records indicate that the massive mixed-use complex is far riskier than first believed. “The affordable housing is the weakest link in a project that is otherwise financially very tight,” said state assemblyman James Brennan. “This is disturbing, because the affordable housing was marketed as the main public benefit of the project.”


Posted by amy at 10:33 AM

June 21, 2007

Anti-Starchitecture Chic

What’s a budding celebrity architect to do when the winds of change begin shifting away from fame?

Metropolis Magazine
By Philip Nobel


Consider for a moment the plight of the stars. You do some work, you work the press, you aspire and achieve, the world embraces you—you’ve arrived!—and then...

What's the ultimate celebrity architect to do when he's designing Brooklyn's most reviled project in recent memory?

Backlash is in the air, and using the same refined organs that so ably guided their rise, the smart stars can feel it. Consider Frank Gehry: after achieving relatively late and relatively hard-earned fame during his long post-Bilbao ride, he may now be trying to get ahead of a turn in his fortunes. He managed, almost alone, to remain untarnished (so far) by his involvement at Ground Zero, but then he stepped in it at Atlantic Yards, accruing in the last few years more bad press than in all previous decades—including the fallout one might have expected from the amazing 2003 episode of the gunman in his building at Case West­ern Reserve University, whose capture was delayed by the circuity of his plan. And then there’s the simple, natural swing of the pendulum—both at the scale of his career and the macro level suggested by the unsustainable ubiquity of the star­chitecture idea.

Read the full article to find out what critic Philip Nobel did with his f*ck-frank-gehry t-shirt.

NoLandGrab: The turning-point in the media indicating that Gehry is totally overexposed was last week's boo-boo in Architectural Record, where the industry mag confused the developers for Gehry's two largest urban projects.

Posted by lumi at 6:58 AM

June 18, 2007

Grandlantic Yards?

Overexposé of super-starchitect Frank Gehry

GrandlanticYards.jpgArchitectural Record conflates Gehry's two mega projects in its online "News Highlights" (audio):

Well, here’s an item about Frank Gehry—whose patience is apparently wearing thin with Forest City Ratner, developer of the massive Grand Avenue project* across the street from his Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Although the project is shaping up to be “a dramatic architectural presence in its own right,” the L.A. Times reported on June 12 that Gehry has “clashed repeatedly and sometimes bitterly” with Forest City and might not return for Grand Avenue’s later phases.

The LA Times reported:

Since Frank Gehry was hired nearly two years ago to design a massive mixed-use project along Grand Avenue, he has clashed repeatedly and sometimes bitterly with the developer, New York's Related Cos. Barring some sudden rapprochement, it now seems unlikely that Gehry will return for the planned second and third phases of the project.

NoLandGrab: Forest City Ratner is the overdeveloper for the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, for which Frank Gehry is slated to design the arena and ALL 16 high-rise towers, in addition to towers to be built over the Atlantic Center mall. The additional towers are not included in the Atlantic Yards plan, since they are "as of right" under current zoning.

NYC-based Related is the big-time developer of the Grand Avenue project in Los Angeles, for which Frank Gehry was hired to design the master plan and one building.

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

June 2, 2007

Frank Gehry Tells Himself To Go F&%k Himself


Wired - The Underwire

Admit it. Every once in a while, when you're bombarded with Frank Gehry news (Dubai, Brooklyn, Brad Pitt!) you just think, "Fuck Frank Gehry." Well now you don't need to think it. You can just wear the t-shirt. In this week's New Yorker "Talk of the Town", Lauren Collins writes about t-shirt entrepreneur Barnaby Harris and his "Fuck Frank Gehry" Ts. Turns out the man himself has become obsessed with the fashion statement, buying them for friends and clients.


Posted by amy at 9:57 AM

May 30, 2007

Gehry's Superblockage

Gehry-MK.gif We know starchitect Frank Gehry has an ego, recently we learned he has a sense of humor, but does he have a CONSCIENCE?

A famous political cartoon gets a face-lift (more like a tummy tuck?), as we wonder why Gehry would get involved with the national poster-project for poor urban design, totally tasteless excess and massive environmental impacts.

Posted by lumi at 9:45 AM

Gehry Wears "Fuck Frank Gehry" T-shirt

Gothamist blogs this week's "Talk of the Town" piece in The New Yorker about "F*ck Frank Gehry" T-shirts and who's wearing 'em:

In this week's New Yorker, Lauren Collins has a funny bit on the popularity of "Fuck Frank Gehry" T-shirts. Popular, that is, with Frank Gehry himself!

The T-shirts first were a hit with Europeans who opposed the Bilbao project. Then they were sought after by critics of the Atlantic Yards. Then Gehry's driver saw the T-shirt at a super bowl party and soon a sample batch landed at Gehry's office. The architect explained, "Somebody sent it to me, and I thought it must have been the people in Brooklyn who are sort of angry. But then I thought, well, it must be loving, too. So I decided it was funny, and I put it on. And I wore it to the office, and everybody got a kick out of that, and then I wore it to the gym...”


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

May 29, 2007

Frank Gehry’s buildings seem to be from another planet

The [UK] Times

An interview with the architect of Atlantic Yards:


Gehry is no mere architect; he is a “starchitect”, and the object of adulation by culture junkies across the world – including, it turns out, the veteran Out of Africa film-maker Sydney Pollack, who has just released an 84-minute documentary entitled Sketches of Frank Gehry (see panel, right). The film is the closest that anyone is ever likely to get to the genre of architecture-porn. There they are, Gehry’s curvy super-models, spread-eagled and pouting in various exotic locations across the globe.

I meet Gehry at his surprisingly sane-looking office in Marina del Ray, Los Angeles, where 180 of his understudies design everything from entire New York zip codes to vodka bottles, via home lighting and Tiffany jewellery. Gehry, the Willy Wonka of this particular chocolate factory, greets me shiftily in a black T-shirt and blue jeans.
As for the future, Gehry has won critical praise for Inter-Active Corp’s ghostly HQ in Manhattan and is working on two massive urban renewal projects: Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Grand Avenue in LA. He is building a £290 million seafront development in Hove, East Sussex.

And what architecture-porn would be complete without a designgasm:

“I’ll show you my lights!” he exclaims, now throwing the gently throbbing object from one hand to the other.

Finally he plops it on the floor and shrugs, still grinning, as if to say – can you f*ing believe I designed that, eh?


Posted by lumi at 7:23 AM

May 28, 2007

Your Name Here

The New Yorker

Frank Gehry shows he has a sense of humor, though he still doesn't have a clue:

Harris had the “Fuck Frank Gehry” shirts made in brown with orange lettering and in navy blue with silver lettering. He sold a few hundred, many to Europeans. Opponents of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards development, in Brooklyn, kept asking for donations.

Then, in March, a friend of Harris’s named Howell Caldwell was working as an assistant director on a weight-loss commercial starring Valerie Bertinelli. Get this: Caldwell’s limo driver, Geoffrey Cushing-Murray, also drives Gehry; on set, he mentioned to a friend that he had run into her husband wearing a “Fuck Frank Gehry” shirt at a Super Bowl party. Cushing-Murray had told Gehry about the encounter, and Gehry, he said, had been intrigued. Caldwell volunteered that he knew the guy who made the shirts. Within days, a sample batch was on its way to Gehry’s office.

“Somebody sent it to me,” Gehry said the other day, over the telephone, “and I thought it must have been the people in Brooklyn who are sort of angry. But then I thought, well, it must be loving, too. So I decided it was funny, and I put it on. And I wore it to the office, and everybody got a kick out of that, and then I wore it to the gym”—Gehry lifts weights at a Gold’s in Venice Beach—“and everybody got a kick out of that. The tough gals at the gym said, ‘If it’s an offer, you better be able to deliver, Mr. Gehry.’ ” Gehry’s wife, Berta, found this all funny. (“She’s Panamanian, so she doesn’t get rattled by much,” Gehry said.) In a Queer Nationesque move of appropriation, Gehry decided to begin sending the shirts out as gifts.


Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

May 10, 2007

Exec helps hospital get well soon

Crain's NY Business
By Gale Scott

An article about the new Chief Executive of NY Downtown Hospital mentions the Frank Gehry/Bruce Ratner Beekman St. project and explains how Bruce got the gig:

Mr. Menkes is optimistic about the hospital’s future, citing support from Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Wall Street donations. Signs of progress include the construction of a residential, office and medical building designed by Frank Gehry. Work is now under way on what has proved to be a major financial asset, the land under the hospital's former parking lot on William Street. The deal was engineered by the mayor, who got Bruce Ratner to develop the project.


Posted by lumi at 6:04 AM

May 5, 2007

Doctoroff: Gehry design scared us


Downtown Express
By Josh Rogers

Architect Frank Gehry’s irregularly shaped designs have earned him international accolades, but his plan for theaters at the World Trade Center site frightened the city into asking him to go back to the drawing board.

“I saw the old version and that in part is what scared us and forced us to revisit the whole issue,” Dep. Mayor Daniel Doctoroff told the Downtown Express Monday. “It was so, so intricate and complicated.”

Doctoroff, who oversees Mayor Bloomberg’s Lower Manhattan plans, was a guest on the Express’s Internet radio show Monday. He said the decision to move the Signature Theater out of Gehry’s Performing Arts Center to a new Fiterman Hall across the street, and leave the Joyce dance theater in the PAC, was made to cut the $685 million cost almost in half.

He said fitting buildings, underground cooling and other equipment, security and truck entrances at the W.T.C. site was equivalent to solving “a ten-sided Rubik’s cube.”


NoLandGrab: Luckily for Atlantic Yards, there is no accounting for cost or security!

Posted by amy at 9:42 AM

April 18, 2007

In Los Angeles, a Gehry-Designed Awakening

The NY Times
By Terry Pristin

Frank Gehry is designing the master plan of another large-scale urban development, this one in LA.

Now Related Urban, the division of the Related Companies that developed the massive Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle in Manhattan, is poised to try to fulfill Mr. Broad’s ambitions. By the end of the year, the company expects to begin demolition for the first phase of a $2.05 billion mixed-use project along Grand Avenue, opposite the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Designed by the concert hall’s architect, Frank Gehry, the Grand Avenue development will echo the Time Warner Center in some respects — the plans call for a five-star 275-room Mandarin Oriental Hotel, luxury condominiums, restaurants run by celebrity chefs and an upscale food market. But it is also expected to feature terraces and rooftop gardens to take advantage of the mild climate, the developers say.
Unlike the planned Atlantic Yards development near downtown Brooklyn, which is Mr. Gehry’s other major urban project, Grand Avenue has engendered few fireworks. But some opponents maintain that subsidies are not justified for a project intended primarily for wealthy residents. They say the developer is already getting a break on the land.


NoLandGrab: Unlike Atlantic Yards, Gehry isn't designing every building for the Grand Ave. project.

Posted by lumi at 8:00 AM

April 16, 2007

The glass menagerie

Frank Gehry's first New York structure is merely a gimmick molded into an office building

NY Newsday
By Justin Davidson

An underwhelming review of Frank Gehry's IAC building:

Frank Gehry's first New York City building is a minor mood piece, not the sort of rhapsodic extravaganza his adorers are used to. At one time, he had hoped to debut with a bent-metal Guggenheim Museum on the East River; he still plans to stage a full-scale invasion of Brooklyn with an all-Gehry district at Atlantic Yards. Meanwhile, there is this milky hulk on the Hudson, the headquarters of Barry Diller's Internet empire, IAC.
When the white glass went on, some took it for a temporary protective film. Surely, they thought, it's not always going to look that way?

But it will, and its shape has finally resolved into a disappointment. Instead of being a marvelous mirage, it's only an office building wrapped in a gimmick.


NoLandGrab: When Gehry's IAC building is chracterized as a "gimmick" and "milky hulk," it doesn't give Brooklynites confidence that the incredible-hulking 16-tower Atlantic Yards will materialize into anything but a historically dense Gehry-palooza. If Gehry gets it wrong on a small-ish project in Manhattan, it's a "minor mood piece;" if he gets it wrong in Brooklyn, it could be more like a "major tantrum."

The myth is that it wasn't Gehry's idea that he should design the entire Atlantic Yards project, but the aging starchitect didn't have to accept.

Posted by lumi at 7:22 AM

March 23, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

Blogosphere38.jpgOnly the Blog Knows Brooklyn, ANGER AT PARK SLOPER'S SHORT SIGHTEDNESS
OTBKB links the letter to The Brooklyn Paper from Sloper Rob Underwood along with this note:

Here's one Park Slopers response to the recent One Way No Way controversy. I was just waiting for charges of NIMBYism (NOT IN MY BACK YARD). Yes, it's true. Most Park Slopers stood on the sidelines for the Atlantic Yards debate.

The Gowanus Lounge, Ratner to Recycle Ward's Bakery!

Just when we thought the Atlantic Yards Well of Irony had run dry, along comes the attempt to spin the impending demolition of the old Ward's Bakery in Prospect Heights that preservationists have been trying to spare from the wrecking ball. The building sits in the Atlantic Yards footprint. Yesterday, Forest City announced that it was going to start demolition on Monday. Its Press Release boasted that "Over 75% of Building to be Recycled as Part of LEED Certification."

Historic Districts Council Newsstand, Historic Ward Bakery Building To Be Demolished For Parking
The HDC's news blog picked up Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's press release about the Ward Bakery building.

gridskipper, Atlantic Yards Art

After missing "Footprints: Portrait of a Brooklyn Neighborhood" at a Prospect Heights gallery, I recently learned that the exhibit traveled to nearby Brooklyn Public Library. Fantastic! Except that a portion of the exhibit got kicked out for drunkenness and public disturbance; it stumbled over to nearby Freddy's Bar and Backroom, a dive bar that hosts an art gallery, bands, game nights, readings, and arts and crafts nights.

brooklyn lens, atlantic yards 1
Cool black-and-white photo of Vanderbilt Yards posted on a new photo blog.

The Knickerblogger, Frank Gehry: Novelty Without Skill

We already have plenty of 'souless' architecture here in Brooklyn, courtesy of Bruce Ratner, who now propooses to replace it with 'senseless' architecture designed by Frank Gehry.
I can skip the Whitney and go to the Frick if I want, but Gehry's obnoxious, garish funhouse architecture can't be avoided, nor disposed of as easily as a painting. But this just reveals what some of us have known all along, the tastemakers have no taste.....or common sense.

Posted by lumi at 12:42 PM

March 22, 2007

Gehry’s New York Debut: Subdued Tower of Light

Architecture Review | IAC headquarters

The NY Times
By Nicholai Ouroussoff

A review of Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry's first building in NYC ran in the NY Times today. In July, 2005, Nicky O. was effusive in his response to Gehry's Atlantic Yards plans, but this time he penned a fairly lukewarm response to the aging starchitect's NYC debut.


Are the curvaceous glass forms of the IAC headquarters building, evoking the crisp pleats of a skirt, a bold departure from Manhattan’s hard-edged corporate towers? Or are they proof that Mr. Gehry’s radical days are behind him?

Well, both. Mr. Gehry is adding a much-needed touch of lightness to the Manhattan skyline just as the city finally emerges from a period of mourning. The IAC building, serving as world headquarters for Barry Diller’s media and Internet empire, joins a growing list of new projects that reflect how mainstream developers in the city are significantly raising the creative stakes after decades of settling for bland, soul-sapping office buildings.

Yet the building, which is not quite complete, also feels oddly tame. For those who have followed Mr. Gehry’s creative career, these easy, fluid forms are a marked departure from the complex, fragmented structures of his youth. Rather than mining rich new creative territory, Mr. Gehry, now 78, seems to be holding back.

The results — almost pristine by Mr. Gehry’s standards — suggest the casual confidence of an aging virtuoso rather than the brash innovation of a rowdy outsider.

NoLandGrab: The following comment about the IAC building reflects a common complaint about many Gehry projects — the entrances are so discreet that merely entering the building is a challenge for the first-time visitor.

The lobby entries of the IAC headquarters are discreetly located on the two side streets, giving the building’s main facade a smooth, uniform appearance.

Perhaps that's why Bruce Ratner has proposed a gigantic foyer, called the "Urban Room," for the beacon of Atlantic Yards, Miss Brooklyn. This way, Frank Gehry will be sure not to leave thousands of arena-goers fumbling around, looking for the entrance.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

March 21, 2007

My Abu Dhabi adventure

UK Guardian, "theblogart&architecture"

Gehry-n-AbuDhabi.jpg I've just turned 78 and am about to design the biggest Guggenheim yet. Can I pull it off?

I'm fine, by the way, but I'm not getting any younger, and I don't want to hang a kind of creative albatross around the neck of my team; I don't want them stuck with a legacy they feel they have to follow. I like experimenting; I want them to.

It's going to take four years to build, so I'll be 82 by the time we're through - it better be good! It's going to be nothing like the new Moma in New York, by the way; that's like a big, shiny department store.


Suggestion for "My Brooklyn adventure":

I've just turned 78 and am about to design the densest residential community ever. Can I pull it off?

It's going to take twenty years to build, so I'll be, like, 98 by the time we're through - it better be good! It's going to be nothing like MetroTech in Downtown Brooklyn, by the way; that's like a gigantic, souless, highrise mall.

Posted by lumi at 8:10 PM

March 19, 2007

Why wait to celebrate?

celebrate.gifDowntown Express

It won’t be until 2009 when developer Bruce Ratner will be ready to pop the bubbly for the opening of his Beekman St. project, but a passerby apparently couldn’t wait until then, leaving an empty bottle at the site. Construction crews have begun building the foundation for the residential tower and K-8 school that is being designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry -- who is still fine tuning the plan. A Ratner spokesperson said there are still no final renderings to release.


NoLandGrab: The foundation has been poured and still no final renderings?

Part of this Gehry-Ratner project is a public school that is the most expensive school ever built by the Department of Education. Keep this in mind when Ratner promises the community schools on and off the Atlantic Yards site.

Posted by lumi at 6:40 AM

March 9, 2007

...Plus c'est la même chose

Could architect Frank Gehry be a repeat offender?

Overheard in "Eavesdrop," the industry gossip column in The Architect's Newspaper:

Up the Hudson, at down-in-the-dumps Newburgh, a week-long charrette to resurrect the city, led by DPZ’s Andres Duany and developer Steve Maun of Leyland, uncovered that the culprit behind the razing of a major part of the city’s historic waterfront was none other than our very own Frank O. Gehry! The architect signed the order in 1966 as part of what was then known as “urban renewal.” Can we chalk it up to youthful indiscretion, or is his Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn just another case of, as the French say, plus ça change?


Déjà vu, encore?

Posted by lumi at 7:00 AM

February 23, 2007

Lehi project shares the Gehry 'look'

Deseret Morning News
By Amy Choate-Nielsen

Gehry-DN.jpgHere's the idea: provide an iconic skyscraper, five-star hotel, upscale-but-affordable housing, sports arena, shops, restaurants, plenty of park space — and have it all designed by a world-renowned architect.

It sounds a lot like the proposed Frank Gehry project in Lehi, right?

It also sounds like the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the Grand Avenue project in Los Angeles, Calif., and the King Alfred project in Hove, England.

Those projects are also being designed by Gehry and, except for some specific details, they are surprisingly similar.

Aside from being met with some opposition from each of their surrounding communities, the projects outside Utah all feature hotel and residential towers, a mixture of retail, restaurants and entertainment, variations of a glass structure, upscale apartments and an emphasis on promoting an active, urban lifestyle.

And while coincidences among the projects could seem like some kind of architectural conspiracy, local entrepreneur Brandt Andersen, who commissioned Gehry to build his Point of the Mountain project, insists the similarities are purely happenstance.

"There are a lot of elements (of the projects) that are strictly coincidental, but there's no silver bullet there," Andersen said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News. "There's no smoking gun connecting them all."

A spokesman from Gehry's firm reinforced Andersen's statement, saying that glass is a common material that is used in contemporary architecture and the projects' likenesses are merely conceptual, not marketed copies of one design.

NoLandGrab: We don't know about the conceptual/design coincidences, but the marketing of the Brooklyn and Hove projects as being inspired by irrelevant female icons starts to smell like serial bad taste.

Keep reading the article because it gets funnier as the clients insist that their visions are "individually unique." Forest City Ratner recasts Atlantic Yards as "the result of years of discussion on how to address New York's housing crisis, according to a spokesman for Forest City Ratner Companies," and an architechture critic defends Gehry by noting "Mozart's music is pretty much the same, but it doesn't mean it's bad."

Posted by lumi at 6:28 AM

February 12, 2007

It came from the Blogosphere...

computerart.jpgNets Fan in New York, Potty Humor

Everyone's a critic. NY's #1 Nets fan trashes Donald O'Finn's crapper:

As Oscar Wilde once said:

"Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself."

Miss Brooklyn portrayed as a toilet? How original. What does this say about the artist?

A Good 'Hood, Gehry Is So Very....

I'm not saying that the development needed a traditional "brownstone" look to link the neighborhoods on either side of the development, but a design that was both progressive, yet also respectful to the current neighborhoods would go a long way to creating a good hood, one that adds to the existing areas, while also giving it it's own identitiy. As the design stands now, this will be a 1970s superblock, completely isolated from the surrounding environments, not just because the footprint of the development isn't more welcoming, but because it will stand out...and not in a good way.

Don't Worry It's Just Reality: Brooklyn Edition, About the Barclay's Crap

"Dreadnaught" sounds off on the backlash to Bruce's Barclays deal:

This little corner of the AY opposition is pretty un-PC, and I kinda sorta agree with Errol Louis that the past is the past, and everyone's had their hand in it, including plenty of Africans- where even today the peculiar institution isn't so peculiar.

But I will say this - the fact that Ratner would ignore the sensibilities, feelings and thoughts of black leaders after he was done using them is a perfect example why Forest City and Bruce Ratner in particular should not be trusted, why the fake CBA isn't worth the paper its printed on, and Brooklynites should be taking steps to not only halt Forest City's expansion in Brooklyn, but preferably, have them leave. It's also a clear indicator that long term Forest City is very, very bad for Brooklyn, and that hoops and other mindless distractions are smokescreens for seizing more and more power and control of the borough.

The Gowanus Lounge, Art the Brooklyn Public Library Doesn't Want You to See Redux

GL reposted the entry about the Brooklyn Public Library, since the original entry might have gotten burried during the weekend coverage:

The censors officials at the Brooklyn Public Library have decided that some art from the Footprints show can't be shown at the library. Is it gay-themed art or something overtly sexual? Nah. Just a depiction of Atlantic Yards as a toilet bowl, a portrait of Develop Don't Destroy's Daniel Goldstein and that sort of thing. The Library issued a bizarre statement explaining that they're publicly-funded when The Real Estate asked them about the censorship the choice they made to exlude six works.

"Computer Art" by H. Price.

Posted by lumi at 8:25 AM

February 2, 2007

Gehry to unveil new Miss Bklyn - She’s shorter, but still the star of the show, he says

Courier-Life Publications

MissMissBrooklyn.jpgOriginally, “Miss Brooklyn” was a mammoth 600-foot, 60-story structure at the Flatbush/Atlantic Avenue intersection, dwarfing the borough’s current tallest building – the Williamsburgh Bank Building at 512 feet high and 34 stories.

“Miss Brooklyn – she’s gone. She’s a new one now. I have a new Miss Brooklyn. I haven’t showed it yet and she’s better,” said Gehry, one of the world’s pre-eminent architects.

Gehry explains the genesis of "Miss Brooklyn:"

“Miss Brooklyn got named when one of my guys was bringing the model from LA to New York and they had to buy a seat on the airplane, and when they sold the seat they needed a name so he said, ‘call her Miss Brooklyn’ and it stuck,” said Gehry.

Gehry also took umbrage to critics who charge the Atlantic Yards project is the “Manhattanization of Brooklyn.”

“It will be the Brooklynization of Brooklyn not the Manhattanization."


NoLandGrab: Groan... now Brooklyn is a vicitm of a bad inside joke.

Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM

Celebrity Architects Reveal a Daring Cultural Xanadu for the Arab World

The NY Times

Starchitect Frank Gehry's wet dream is in the desert. Gehry, who once publicly relished the opportunity to "build a neighborhood practically from scratch" and described the Atlantic Yards footprint as "an empty site," has finally found a tabula rasa:

“It’s like a clean slate in a country full of resources,” said Mr. Gehry, who appeared at the exhibition to show off his model for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

By "resources," we think that Gehry means "money."


Posted by lumi at 6:32 AM

January 28, 2007

Ouroussoff: Gehry faces a developer's constraints in L.A., too


Atlantic Yards Report

Let's try to decode New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ourousoff's new take on Frank Gehry's latest Los Angeles project, in a handwringing essay today headlined Corner of Art and Commerce in Los Angeles. Ouroussoff sets out the question:
Designed by Mr. Gehry for the New York-based Related Companies, the master plan for the site, a choice parcel directly across from Disney Hall, provides a case study for one of the most pressing issues in architecture today. Can the bottom-line world of mainstream development produce something of architectural value at enormous scale? Or is Mr. Gehry simply there to provide a veneer of cultural pretension?
(Gehry rendering via New York Times)
If Gehry has a public responsibility, why has he been so combative in public? Why hasn’t he met with the community? Why did he not, as he would have preferred, get other architects to design parts of the project? He remains constrained by his client.

So the question Ouroussoff might have posed to Gehry is this: how much are you willing to compromise your professional ideals to complete an ambitious project, especially one with a building you call your "ego trip"?


Posted by amy at 5:12 PM

January 26, 2007

Gehry: New Ms. Brooklyn on the way


Stephen Witt

“Miss Brooklyn,” the cornerstone of Frank Gehry’s vision for the Atlantic Yards project, is undergoing major plastic surgery.
“Miss Brooklyn – she’s gone. She’s a new one now. I have a new Miss Brooklyn. I haven’t showed it yet and she’s better,” said Gehry, one of the world’s pre-eminent architects.


NoLandGrab: As we have learned from watching "The Swan," it's what's on the inside that counts.

Posted by amy at 10:37 PM

January 16, 2007

U.S. architect's British deal not sweet enough

Despite the prospect of a free sports complex, some complain the project is too tall

The Houston Chronicle
By Gregory Katz

Substitute "Brooklyn" for "Hove," "most expensive arena, ever" for "free sports complex," "40-50 stories high" for "25 and 28 stories tall" and you'll be laughing until you cry.

Here are some creepy similarities:

The Trojan Horse

Taxpayers would get a free $92 million sports center plus an apartment complex designed by renowned American architect Frank Gehry. And some affordable housing units would be thrown in to sweeten the deal.


Opponents say these towers, and several smaller buildings, will dwarf the surrounding two- and three-story buildings dating from the the early 19th century.

Density and Infrastructure

"The 750 apartments are going to bring in 1,200 to 1,400 people," [City Council member Brian Oxley] said. "Where will these people work? Where will these people drive? Where will they park?"

"Complainers" and Rigorous Media Coverage

The Argus, the city's newspaper, is being deluged with missives from readers who want the project halted, said columnist Adam Trimingham.

"Every day we're publishing letters from complainers," he said. "It goes on and on and on."

NoLandGrab: OK, we were joking about the "rigorous media coverage" in Brooklyn; if that were true, we'd have nothing to do.

False Dichotomy

"I like the overall concept, and the present site is awful," Trimingham said. "The alternative is to let it rot."

NLG: Yeah, without the Gehry plan, there would never ever be another opportunity to build something preposterous on those sites.

Gehry Doesn't Do Small

"[Gehry is] not interested in the neighborhood context. It doesn't relate to anything else. This would be completely incongruous in Hove, which is a sedate place. It's far too big and tall."

Politicians Fall in Line, Merciful Scaleback

Heather James, a spokeswoman with Karis Holdings, said the project does enjoy wide support despite its vocal opponents. She said several important British review agencies had endorsed the plan, which has been scaled back to accommodate local concerns.



NoLandGrab: Let's not forget Gehry's insipid analogies to Brooklyn's Bride and Victorian Maidens.

Jan. 6, 2007

U.S. architect's British deal not sweet enough
Despite the prospect of a free sports complex, some complain the project is too tall

Europe Bureau

HOVE, ENGLAND — The plan for revitalizing the slightly past-its-prime English seaside city of Hove, which had its heyday late in the 19th century, sounds almost too good to be true.

Taxpayers would get a free $92 million sports center plus an apartment complex designed by renowned American architect Frank Gehry. And some affordable housing units would be thrown in to sweeten the deal.

Instead of the rundown, nearly derelict sports facility that today sits on a prime oceanfront site, the city would have an architectural showcase, updated sports facilities and a jazzy new image that might draw tourists and entrepreneurs.

There's just one catch. Many residents don't like Gehry's design. He may have gained worldwide fame for his iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the new Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, but he is making few friends in Hove.

"It's pretty gross, isn't it," said Roger Harold, a 62-year-old retired restaurant owner who likes to stroll along the seafront where the Gehry project would be built if planning permits are obtained. "I think it's a shame to put something like that up. I don't think it's in keeping with the buildings in the neighborhood. There's no need to go completely mad."

Opponents are trying to persuade the City Council to withhold final permission for the $575 million project when it comes up for consideration early this year after more than three years of negotiations.

Most of the controversy stems from the height of the two main apartment towers, which will be 25 and 28 stories tall. Opponents say these towers, and several smaller buildings, will dwarf the surrounding two- and three-story buildings dating from the the early 19th century.

Distinctive style
The towers would be built in Gehry's trademark curvaceous style, which has often drawn praise from architecture critics who call him a master of deconstructivism, the post-modern movement he personifies. But it is mocked by groups trying to block the plan in this city of 91,000 people. They complain that Gehry's buildings look as if they are falling down.

City Council member Brian Oxley, whose district is close to the proposed development, said the public is hostile because the plan is simply too big.

"The 750 apartments are going to bring in 1,200 to 1,400 people," he said. "Where will these people work? Where will these people drive? Where will they park?"

Neighborhood groups have mobilized in opposition. The Argus, the city's newspaper, is being deluged with missives from readers who want the project halted, said columnist Adam Trimingham.

"Every day we're publishing letters from complainers," he said. "It goes on and on and on."

The readers usually complain about the size of the structures, the impact that 751 new apartments would have on parking and the fact that the huge buildings would cast large shadows that would deprive some residents of natural sunlight.

But Trimingham believes the project will help revive Hove, traditionally less glamorous and desirable than its more famous neighbor Brighton.

"I like the overall concept, and the present site is awful," Trimingham said. "The alternative is to let it rot."

Many other influential members of the community agree that the plan has the potential to transform Hove. Other newspaper writers have warned locals they may lose a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to upgrade the area.

"We have a world-class architect keen to put a landmark building on the site and throw in a sports center at no extra cost to the taxpayer," said Jon Robins, a columnist with The Observer newspaper. "We should be begging him to do the job."

Center dates to '30s
The Gehry-designed complex would replace the dilapidated King Alfred Leisure Center, a drab 1930s structure, with a new sports center that would be subsidized by the sale of the apartments.

"You look at that building in the plans and you don't see joy, you see something heavy, clunky and a bit ponderous," said Valerie Paynter, founder of Save Hove, an opposition group. "It's definitely not the mood of the seafront. To put something so massively oversized on the seafront is just an affront."

Supporters point to the positive impact Gehry's stunning Guggenheim Museum has had on the economic and cultural life of the Spanish city of Bilbao.

But Selma Montford, leader of a conservation group trying to prevent construction, said it is foolhardy to think that tourists will come to Hove to see a local sports center and two apartment towers.

'A gimmick architect'
"I think of Gehry as a gimmick architect," she said. "He's showing off. He likes to have something that is attention seeking. He's not interested in the neighborhood context. It doesn't relate to anything else. This would be completely incongruous in Hove, which is a sedate place. It's far too big and tall."

She said the City Council was "greedy" for seeking a free sports center that would be subsidized by an out-of-scale construction project on the seafront. The site is simply not big enough to support so many apartments, she said.

Gehry, who is based in Los Angeles, was traveling and could not be reached, his representative said. Gehry was hired for the project by the co-developers, Karis Holdings, a local group, and the Dutch-based ING Real Estate.

Heather James, a spokeswoman with Karis Holdings, said the project does enjoy wide support despite its vocal opponents. She said several important British review agencies had endorsed the plan, which has been scaled back to accommodate local concerns.

"I think it's going to be one of the most significant buildings in Britain," she said.

"Frank Gehry's architecture is fun, it's glorious, it makes you feel happy. It fits the spirit of Hove."

Posted by lumi at 8:47 AM

January 6, 2007

Inevitable Year End Round Up.

Miss Representation

Brooklyn: not so lucky. Perhaps planning gridlock has its perverse benefits. While we were all staring at the Switch Condo, trying to figure out what could be taking so long, the city rezoned all of Brooklyn. Scarano gets the northern half, though apparently the cornice line tops off at just below his Star Trek office, and Ghery gets the southern half. Since he doesn’t have an office here, there are no limits to how garish he can be, a challenge he seems to unfortunately relish (Oy Vey! indeed, Marty). In response, Park Slope parents everywhere force their children to form middle-school punk bands that write 3-chord paeans to Jane Jacobs.


Posted by amy at 11:30 AM

December 31, 2006

From Bach to Borat

New Jersey Star-Ledger's best and worst of 2006:

LOATHED: Our region's continuing inability to build anything truly remarkable and architecturally interesting on a grand scale. Not just at Ground Zero -- anywhere at all. Even on the site of Bruce Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, designed by California architect Frank Gehry (who did just open his first building in Manhattan, a modest office structure for media tycoon Barry Diller). Gehry's dubious residential-high-rise-cum-NJ Nets-arena may get built, but the current design is less than impressive. Cities in Europe, China, Japan, the Persian Gulf and Malaysia, are able to mount world-class projects with success, often using cutting-edge computer-assisted design functions. Hint: Focus on fulfilling human needs, not economic return.


Posted by amy at 11:25 AM

December 23, 2006

The Gehry contradiction

Atlantic Yards Report (inadvertently?) starts the Frank Gehry deathwatch...sure to become a popular new event at Freddy's.

From an interview (reg. required) with architect Frank Gehry in today's Wall Street Journal:
Frank Gehry is 77, white haired, paunchy, and when we talked one afternoon in late autumn the topics of age and death never seemed far off. Mr. Gehry is, of course, one of the world's great architects, creator of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and enough of an icon to have been among the personalities featured in Apple's "Think Different" campaign. Describing what it takes for him to accept a commission, Mr. Gehry says, "The determining factor is: Can I get it done while I am still alive?" Explaining why he doesn't build houses any more, Mr. Gehry says, "They involve a lot of personal hand holding. I guess at my age I don't have the patience."

(Emphasis added)

The Atlantic Yards project, unmentioned in the interview, would take ten years to build, at best, and even supporters and cordial critics believe it more likely would take 15-20 years.


Posted by amy at 11:32 AM

The Architect

Wall Street Journal

In this relatively dark conversation, one story that Mr. Gehry told me and which made him chuckle was that of a friend who is a chiropractor and who asked him to help her lay out her office. "I love doing that kind of stuff," Mr. Gehry said. The friend came over and brought her floor plans and Mr. Gehry spent several hours noodling over them. "I've always had the fantasy of having a little kiosk in the mall where I could do that. Where people would line up and you would charge them 25 bucks and you would look at their plans. I love doing that kind of stuff. They think you are a genius when you move one little wall and get an efficiency and nobody had thought of that before. Small pleasures."


NoLandGrab: There are more than a few people in Brooklyn hoping that Frank gets his mall kiosk...and leaves Brooklyn alone.

Posted by amy at 11:25 AM

December 22, 2006

Eyesore or eye-opener? The new Brooklyn

• New York's biggest ever private project approved
• Opponents go to court to halt 'out of kilter' scheme

The Guardian, UK
By Ed Pilkington

An overview of the Atlantic Yards fight for the folks across The Pond features criticism of architect Frank Gehry, the environmental impacts and weakness of the "affordable housing" plan.

Welcoming the planning approval, Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York city, which is contributing part of a $500m (£254m) public subsidy for the project, said it would create jobs and affordable housing. "We can still achieve projects on a grand scale and ensure that New York remains a city where big things happen," he said.

But Brooklynites have expressed reservations, much of it directed at what they say is the misguided use of Gehry's architectural creativity.


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

December 14, 2006

Against Gehry, Against Leviathan (part 1)

Picketing Henry Ford

Many critics who have been supporters of Frank Gehry's work are singing another tune about Atlantic Yards. Blogger Stuart Schrader examines one critic who is standing by his man:

The votes are in, and the loser is…Frank Gehry. Everywhere I look lately, Gehry is on the receiving end of a critical hurtin’. Reliable and even-keeled critics, previous fans of his work, like Paul Goldberger and Martin Filler, have voiced skepticism about the Atlantic Yards (AY) project. Filler’s criticism impressed me because his past enthusiasm for Gehry struck me as unwarranted and unpersuasive. But his recent critique—nay, excoriation—of the AY project should have Gehry crying “Uncle!” Also, I am grateful to Filler for informing us of the quid pro quo between Gehry and Ratner after The New York Times Company and Ratner hired Renzo Piano to design the new Times tower. With the completion of the ICA building, Gehry’s first work in Manhattan, we may be seeing more negative reception, such as James Gardner’s in that progressive rag The New York Sun. At this point, other than Nicolai Ouroussoff of The New York Times (whose tune, I expect, will change), Jonathan Liu, writing for N+1, seems to be the only serious critic left in the ignominious position of defending Gehry. This two-part post will take a closer look at Liu’s argument with the intent of elucidating the larger theme of the way the Atlantic Yards project and Gehry’s architecture fits into our present neoliberal, hypercapitalist society of the spectacle. I single out Liu not because I have some beef with him—I’ve never actually read him before—but because his criticism articulates quite well the beliefs of other supporters of the AY project.


Posted by lumi at 10:20 PM

December 12, 2006

Dream Houses

The NY Times, Sunday Book Review By Jim Holt

By Alain de Botton
Illustrated. 280 pp. Pantheon Books. $25

A review of the perfect gift for the Brooklynite who has been spending way too much time talking about architecture during the past three years:

It is because architecture is an essentially public art that we need some shared sense of architectural value. Do we want to live amid the rationally ordered boulevards of Paris, or the complexity and contradiction of the Vegas Strip? Is less more, or a bore? Will a new museum in the form of a gigantic titanium-clad blob transform our backwater hometown into an exciting cultural capital? Can the right sort of architecture even improve our character?

These are the sort of reflections prompted by Alain de Botton’s latest book, “The Architecture of Happiness.” De Botton, a young author of briskly selling meditations on such themes as status anxiety, travel and the life-changing power of Proust, here turns his attention to architecture, pondering the question of just what are the elusive qualities that make one building beautiful and another hideous.


Posted by lumi at 7:13 PM

GL Brooklyn Holiday Gift Guide, Part IV: Atlantic Yards Edition

The Gowanus Lounge

For the Atlantic Yards fanatic (pro or con) on your gift list, Gowanus Lounge has the ultimate gift guide.

What episodic collection of Brooklyn gift suggestions would be complete without a small journey down the road known as Atlantic Yards? Certainly, not ours. The thought was planted when we saw what the Lower East Side spot, Fuck Yoga, had done. So, we added a couple of thoughts, including some to try to balance out the Fuck Frank t-shirt you will find below, and that was that. (We strive for fairness in our Brooklyn Gift Guide.)

Hence, the "F*ck Frank Gehry" T-shirt is followed by the "Sketches of Frank Gehry" DVD (though we're not so sure that the starchitect comes across as anything but an "artiste" in the film).


Posted by lumi at 12:23 PM

Sailing With Frank Gehry

The NY Sun
By James Gardner

The NY Sun architecture critic pans the first NYC building designed by the architect of Atlantic Yards:

TheSails.jpgThere are those who will assure you that the arrival of Frank Gehry’s office building, at 18th Street and Eleventh Avenue, signals that New York City has finally come into its own as a center of architecture, if not of culture in general. For such critics, the absence, until now, of a large-scale project by Mr. Gehry (or by Rem Koolhaas, for that matter) has been a standing reproach to Gotham, proof that we lacked the cultural sophistication of Chicago,Paris,and Los Angeles.

But when New Yorkers finally see this work up close the result is likely to be a kind of aesthetic dissonance. After all, your mind keeps telling you that the Sails (as the building is called because of the swelling undulations of its pale façade) is a great and important building, but your eye refuses to co-operate. Once you admit into the realms of possibility, however, that the building might just be a mess, you may find that those mists of perplexity dissipate ever so slightly.


NoLandGrab: Unfortunately for the building dubbed "The Sails," it looks more like a cruiseship in the photo from the Sun.

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

December 10, 2006

Striking a Pose


The Atlantic

Yoga is at a confused, precarious place, teetering on the edge of overexposure. On my way to the Jivamukti party I stumbled on a tiny store in the ultrahip Lower East Side called Fuck Yoga, which features store-branded T-shirts, matchbooks, skateboards, and neon signs. I figured this was my proof that yoga had indeed crossed over to the dark side, becoming a close cousin to the SUV and the fur coat and dental insurance—all the eternal targets of youthful mockery and protest.

So was this all meant in hostility to yoga? I asked Fuck Yoga’s owner, Barnaby Harris, thinking I was asking the obvious.

“No, not at all,” he said, “I practice yoga every day. And we sell yoga mats.”

You do? So what the—?

“Enough already,” said Harris. “I mean, OK, [yoga’s] great for you, makes you glowing and healthy, etc., etc. But enough already.” (The store also sells T-shirts that say fuck frank gehry. Same basic idea.)

article (subscription only)

NoLandGrab: We're not sure how we feel about people ironically loving and ridiculing things at the same time, but somehow we think these shirts might be popular this year...

Posted by amy at 7:59 PM

A frustrated sigh from Gehry on the signage issue


Atlantic Yards Report

There's another reason to echo the concerns raised Tuesday that 150-high signs on the proposed Atlantic Yards Urban Room might turn Brooklyn's busiest intersection into Times Square.

Frank Gehry is frustrated, according to an interview he gave Advertising Age published in September.

The original tune

In April, in an interview with New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff on the Charlie Rose show, Gehry sounded confident that he and branding expert Peter Arnell could craft creative signage that could be used for advertising, community issues, and art.

"This would not be Times Square," he told the Daily News in May.

(Above right, a graphic by BrooklynSpeaks adapted from two separate renderings in the Atlantic Yards Final Environmental Impact Statement. Note that the perspective is not from ground level.)


Posted by amy at 7:35 PM

House and Garden Gets Gehry on Atlantic Yards

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn

From House and Garden magazine's January 2007 issue, an excerpt from Martin Filler's article, "Iceberg on the Horizon: As Frank Gehry's Breakthrough Building Rises Along The Hudson, Is His Titanic Fame About to Collide With His Towering Ambition?"



Posted by amy at 1:15 PM

December 3, 2006

Neighborhood "practically from scratch" or spaceship?


Atlantic Yards Report

Starchitect Frank Gehry surely has put his foot in his mouth during discussions of the Atlantic Yards project, notably in May when he cracked that critics should've been "picketing Henry Ford" or last January when he misdescribed the footprint as "an empty site."

But Gehry didn't quite say, as he's been quoted, that he had the opportunity "to build a neighborhood from scratch." The press reported that, but Gehry actually said "practically from scratch." (Emphasis added)
Then again, maybe we should concentrate on the notion of neighborhood. As the Park Slope Civic Council testified:
The development plan will not create a neighborhood, but rather a high-density enclave between several neighborhoods which will in fact be a new urban form, however, more likely analogous to a spaceship landing in a field than a unifying element in the community (see scaled depiction below). It may work in concert with itself but not with the surrounding neighborhoods.

Park Slope Civic Council must be envisioning a really, really, really big spaceship, because even the one that we had professionally rendered over this photo fits better contextually than the Gehry towers.

Posted by amy at 11:22 AM

November 30, 2006

King Alfred: so dense it's daft

The Argus Newsletter
Bt Peter McKenna, Fourth Avenue, Hove

GehryBrighton-Maidens.jpgBlimey! Frank Gehry is designing a high-density project that is out of context with the existing enviroment and everyone's knickers are in a twist. But no worries, there's affordable housing, a community center and an insipid narrative (some birds sporting glass and steel).

Is it Brooklyn, or is it Hove? Whichever, it's "daft!"


Posted by lumi at 7:53 AM

November 15, 2006

Sketches of Gehry (Prospect Heights)

Cover art from Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards Design Guidelines:


Source, Atlantic Yards Report.

Posted by lumi at 7:37 PM

November 6, 2006

Architects change their view of the lowly roof

LA Times
By Christopher Hawthorne

Architects are paying more attention to rooftops as higher-density urban development comes our way, and tools like Google Earth give people a birds-eye view of their neighborhoods.

And in many of the world's biggest cities, increasing density means occupants of one building are more likely than ever to look down on another. The pair of towers Frank Gehry is designing on Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles will overlook not only new retail pavilions but also the architect's Walt Disney Concert Hall across the street.

"It's an issue in Brooklyn too," Gehry said, referring to his design for the $4.2-billion Atlantic Yards development, which will include more than a dozen tightly packed towers.


NoLandGrab: This is a welcome phenomenon for architect Frank Gehry, who has been frequently criticized for creating designs that look better "from a passing airplane," than the street.

Posted by lumi at 8:42 AM

Under Cover: Gehry Perfection

Downtown Express

Construction may have just started on Bruce Ratner’s Frank Gehry-designed tower on Beekman St., but the famed architect is still tinkering with his T-square and does not yet have the final design.

“Maybe by the time we’re at the eighth floor, we’ll have a rendering,” Ratner’s spokesperson joked.

In addition to residential units, the 75-story tower will house an occupational health center run by the New York Downtown Hospital and a K-8 public school. But while the building is going up, renderings of what it will look like are still not going out to the public. According to the spokesperson, that’s because the building design continues to change and the meticulous Gehry doesn’t want to publish plans until all the interior and exterior designs are finalized.


NoLandGrab: The spokesperson may be joking, but Ratner and Gehry aren't kidding — developers are allowed to file plans and permits in stages.

Posted by lumi at 8:23 AM

November 2, 2006

THE MAIL: The Brooklyn Context

From The New Yorker (November 6, 2006):

Paul Goldberger writes, in his criticism of Frank Gehry's designs for Atlantic Yards, Bruce Ratner's massive, twenty-two-acre proposed development in Brooklyn, "The problem with trying to do Bilbao on this scale is that it ceases to be an eccentric counterpoint to the context. It is the context" (The Sky Line, October 16th). We in Brooklyn knew that Gehry was embarking upon a project whose context he did not, and could not, understand back in 2003, when his designs were unveiled. Gehry exclaimed that he was excited "to build a neighborhood from scratch." The neighborhood—the context—already existed. With the renderings we've seen so far from Gehry, it's clear that he has not taken the context into account.
Daniel Goldstein
Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Brooklyn, N.Y.

View letter

Posted by lumi at 8:21 AM

October 23, 2006

Spoof alert!

Last week we ran an item from the Riverfront Times about Frank Gehry's foray into re-envisioning St. Louis. The arrogant quotes from the genius starchitect hewed so closely to recent statements intended to blow off Atlantic Yards critics that we left our sense of humor behind and fell for the entire article, which was meant to be a satire.

How were we supposed to know that the artiste who is excited to "build a neighborhood from scratch" in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, and who dismissed concerns of neighborhood residents by glibly saying, "they should have been picketing Henry Ford," didn't actually say:

"Watch how the little red people exit the stadium and wend their way around the site."

The new Busch Stadium, "is not architecture. It is mimicry. It is safe, and cloying, and an insult to St. Louis."

We should have gotten a clue that the article was a work of fiction at the part where the Kiel Opera House would be relocated — physically moved on rollers — to a site across the street from Busch Stadium.

Well, our only consolation is that Frank Gehry and his lawyers have even less of a sense of humor than we do. This from the Riverfront Times disclaimer (added to the article after the "satire" even pissed off some locals):

An attorney who represents one of the famous people whose name the story features prominently called today to inform us that as far as it concerns their client, the piece is "entirely false" and has "no basis in truth whatsoever."

Whaddaya know? The principals of a company known and admired the world over (and their general counsel!) are reading li'l ol' Riverfront Times!

Posted by lumi at 11:35 AM

October 21, 2006

Philadelphia Museum Job Sends Gehry Underground


New York Times

"There is a kind of modesty thing," he continued. "Most of us, we don't set out to do the Bilbao effect, as it's being called. It'd be a real challenge to do something that's virtually hidden, that could become spectacular."
Mr. Gehry said he came to the project with respect for the existing building. "It's an old war horse; it has character and I like the setting of it," he said. "So I like the idea of having to treat it delicately."


NoLandGrab: Yes, respecting existing buildings, definitely what it's all about. While we appreciate the sentiment, we'd sure like to know why it doesn't apply to Brooklyn.

Posted by amy at 8:32 AM

October 20, 2006

A Whole New Ballgame

UPDATE: It turns out that this article is a spoof, and that NLG occassionally loses its sense of humor (and the bull sh*t meter as well). See "Spoof Alert" for more.

StLouisBallpark-RT.jpgRiverfront Times uncovers secret plan for Ballpark Village cultural landmark.

The Riverfront Times
By Randall Roberts

Brooklynites haven't even tried to keep a straight face every time Frank Gehry opens his mouth.

This article about the secret plans for St. Louis's Ballpark Village — to be designed by Frank Gehry — gives folks a sense of what the world-famous starchitect really thinks. These excerpts are from emails leaked to the Riverfront Times:

None of the principals in the proposed deal returned phone calls, but negotiations and other details regarding the plan are elaborated upon in a series of e-mails obtained by Riverfront Times in which Pulitzer, Cardinals president Mark Lamping and vice president of business development Bill DeWitt III, architect Gehry and longtime Redbirds broadcaster Mike Shannon discuss the project.

FrankGehryPortrait.jpgGehry on America's pastime:

And in point of fact, Gehry couldn't care less about the sport. In one spirited e-mail joust with DeWitt, the architect freely admits he's not enamored of the American Pastime. "Not even close," he writes. "It's such a silly sport, don't you think? I appreciate its linear nature and lack of time constraints. But I much prefer watching ice hockey."

Gehry on the "little red" fans:

"Watch how the little red people exit the stadium and wend their way around the site," Gehry urges DeWitt — "the site" being the fenced-in crater he has been retained to fill. "That's more interesting to me than any game. I see The Village as an extension of these patterns, a more refined version, where baseball fans can find sustenance in a more sophisticated atmosphere.

Gehry on sports and St. Louis:

"Baseball is fine for the so-called boys of summer," Gehry's e-mail concludes, "but what St. Louis needs is something for the men — and women — of fall, winter and spring."

NoLandGrab: "Fall, winter and spring?" Uh, that sounds like the season for the St. Louis Blues.

Gehry on stadiums:

The new Busch Stadium, Gehry adds, "is not architecture. It is mimicry. It is safe, and cloying, and an insult to St. Louis."

Gehry on ESPN Zone and other mainstream cultural amenities that are no longer included in the Ballpark Village plan, now that the project has been re-envisioned as a cultural center:

"This project is literally in the shadow of the Arch — one of the great public sculptures IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Why would anyone want such VULGARITY in such proximity to PERFECTION?"


Posted by lumi at 11:52 AM

October 19, 2006

It came from the Blogosphere

CB9 Manhattan, Atlantic Yards Report: The Shiffman solution
Community Board 9 in Manhattan republished Atlantic Yards Report's coverage of CUNY's discussion forum on Megadevelopments in NYC. Community Board 9 is facing a complex problem with Columbia University's planned expansion, which will entail the use of eminent domain "as a last resort."

Urban St. Louis, Ballpark Village Area and Tower
Brooklynites aren't the only ones ranting about architecture. As soon as Frank Gehry's name is attached to a project in St. Louis, Atlantic Yards is becoming a case study for "bad Gehry":

It would be a shame if they brought on Gehry as the architect for this project. Gehry's designs are best suited for small comissions and, if you've seen his proposals for a skyscraper in Manhattan and the huge Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, the impracticality of his designs are very readily apparent.

blog.myspace.com/dtmallon, Nets to Queens?
One guy says, "Hells yeah," to the prospect of the Nets landing in Queens... only it seems like he lives in Chicago.

Posted by lumi at 8:44 AM

Louis Vuitton unveils plans for new Paris contemporary art museum designed by Frank Gehry

AP, via The International Herald Tribune

Gehry-Paris.jpgWe realize that we spend a lot of time making fun of Frank Gehry in between shifts of "picketing Henry Ford," being do-gooding liberals and driving around Brooklyn searching for inspiration, but we had to seriously wonder why Paris gets all the luck after Gehry unveiled plans for a transparent (nearly invisible-like) museum.

France's richest man unveiled plans on Monday to build an ethereal, fully transparent museum designed by architect Frank Gehry that will house a contemporary art collection in Paris.


Posted by lumi at 7:15 AM

October 13, 2006

It came from the Blogosphere...

Rocks In A Blender, change is all the rage (part 2)
Joseph, the 25-year-old Pisces, manages to sum up the main concerns about Atlantic Yards, in two paragraphs, which has to be some sort of record.

Greiner's Grumblings, Media don’t like the Yards. Do voters?
Andrew Greiner compares the $4.2-billion 16-highrise and arena Atlantic Yards project to Frank Gehry's Millennium Park amphitheater in Chicago and posits, "Is the Atlantic Yards project really the scourge that it’s made out to be."

The Real Deal, Is Gehry wasting his time in Brooklyn?
The real estate trade links Paul Goldberger's pointed criticism of Frank Gehry's design for Atlantic Yards:

The Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn is the largest project that architect Frank Gehry has ever undertaken. But it's one that some critics see as almost a waste of his talents and time.

OTBKB says:

Everybody's talking about Paul Goldberger's piece in the New Yorker about Frank Gehry.

Bird to the North, BrooklynSpeaks
BrooklynSpeaks has Bird to the North thinking about the consortium's position, and adds some ideas of her own about open space, building setbacks and this point about the project's timeline:

Finally, it does seem that more thought has to be given to the stages of the project so that all the attendant community benefits do not come at the tail end of 10 years. Honestly, the whole project is riding on the acceptance that there are benefits, ultimately. Can't the stages be done more smartly, say in 2-year chunks, instead of in 4-year and 6-year chunks?

The Real Estate Observer, Silver Misses Moynihan Vote
The lastest news on the group that holds the cards in the approval of Atlantic Yards - the Public Authorities Control Board:

The representative for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on the Public Authorities Control Board never showed at today's emergency meeting. Without him (or her--we're searching for a name here, and Senate spokesman Mark Hansen told us, "We're not sure who he was planning on not sending to the meeting" ), there was no quorum and no vote could be taken.

Posted by lumi at 10:22 PM

New Yorker critic slams Gehry

The Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman

Rather than only rehashing Paul Goldberger's criticisms of Frank Gehry's design for Atlantic Yards, the article also compares Goldberger's pointed criticisms to the effusive statements of support by the City Planning Commission.

A card-carrying member of the Manhattan establishment has turned on Bruce Ratner’s starchitect, Frank Gehry, calling his design for the Atlantic Yards project “a large part of the problem.”

In his regular “Sky Line” column this week, New Yorker architecture critic and Pulitzer Prize-winner Paul Goldberger slammed the $4.2-billion, eight-million-square-foot, 16-tower, arena, residential and office space development as “enormous.”

In attacking Atlantic Yards, Goldberger has joined a chorus of critics. But by singling out Gehry, Goldberger has gone where few have gone: attacking the very element that Ratner has called a selling point of the project: Gehry’s lush, curvaceous, radical designs.


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

October 11, 2006

Ouroussoff on Gehry?

Recently, criticism of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards design has inexplicably found its way into The New York Times's reviews of Richard Meier's Ara Pacis Museum in Rome and Norman Foster's design for a new residential tower on the Upper East Side. Both reviews are by the Times's architecture critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff.

AraPacis-MYT.jpgOuroussoff on Meier:

Mr. Meier’s building is a contemporary expression of what can happen when an architect fetishizes his own style out of a sense of self-aggrandizement. Absurdly overscale, it seems indifferent to the naked beauty of the dense and richly textured city around it.

That kind of insensitivity tends to reinforce the cliché that all contemporary architecture is an expression of an architect’s self-importance.

Foster-NYT.jpgOuroussoff on Foster:

The tower’s height, roughly 30 stories, hardly helps its cause; as with other luxury high rises reshaping the Manhattan skyline, its scale is clearly driven by economic considerations. Defenders will point out that the Carlyle Hotel across the street is slightly taller, but the reality is that the Carlyle’s setbacks make it virtually invisible when viewed from the street. Lord Foster’s tower would have a far stronger visual presence, soaring above the apartment buildings flanking it to the north and south.

But the tower’s outsize height is a problem. Manhattan was shaped by the hubris of developers struggling against the constraints of the street grid, and its beauty is a result of wild juxtapositions of scales, styles and architectural periods. But I’m not sure a luxury high rise should be allowed the same freedom as a major civic building.

This is proof that Ouroussoff is thinking about context and architectural hubris as much as the rest of us. The question remains: why does Ouroussoff give architectural genius Frank Gehry a free pass?

Posted by lumi at 12:15 PM

It came from the GoldBergosphere...

Gehry-IAC-flickr.jpg"Gehry-rigged" in the blogosphere — a few blogs linked to New Yorker architectural critic Paul Goldberger's assessment of Gehry's NY debuts.

Big Cities Big Boxes, New Yorker Critiques Atlantic Yards

While he lauds Gehry's first freestanding New York building, the headquarters for Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp. in Chelsea, Goldberger takes off the gloves for Atlantic Yards. Among his observations is that whatever Gehry's desire to pay homage to the Manhattan skyline, the romance of the old Manhattan skyline "is a happy accident of diverse buildings in a tight web of streets." Atlantic Yards, by contrast, "involves eliminating streets, and has the look more of a single structure spanning multiple blocks than of a townscape that has grown organically." Well put.

Blog Chelsea, Goldberger Gives Gehry’s IAC a Thumbs Up

A little gloating is in order...

Goldberger in the New Yorker cuts down Gehry’s work at Atlantic Yards but likes our little IAC building.

...though Blog Chelsea wondered:

Who was dorky enough to call about the columns?

TrueHoop, The New Yorker on the Nets' Proposed New Home
Sportswriter Henry Abbott takes note of the Goldberger article on his own blog:

Paul Goldberger, writing in the New Yorker, discusses architect Frank Gehry, whose work is at the center of the storm about the Nets' proposed new arena in Brooklyn. The whole article is a good read, but I was especially interested in the ending.

DDDB.net, New Yorker Says No to Gehry's Idea of Brooklyn

One point about the excerpted criticism below. Because of his fame and embrace in many quarters, many architects, critics and laypeople are fearful of criticizing Frank Gehry. It will take more hard, cold looks at his work, like Goldberger's text below, to allow a more balanced expert and popular viewpoint on the controversial pop architect. Not everything that spits out of his staffers' computers are nuggets of genius. Gehry is confronting a project of a magnitude he's never tried before. And it shows.

Curbed.com, Goldberger on Gehry's IAC Building: He Likes It!

N.B. In the same article, as the folks at No Land Grab are gleefully noting, Goldberger hauls Gehry's Atlantic Yards project in for an ass-whooping: "Rather than giving a sense of foreground and background, the juxtaposition of plain and fancy just looks like a few Gehrys bought for full price next to several bought at discount." Ooo-eee.

NoLandGrab: For the record, there's nothing "gleeful" about fighting Gehry's Atlantic Yards design. When a respected architecture critic sheds light on the fact that the Atlantic Yards project is unbecoming Brooklyn and the starchitect himself, we experience a sigh of relief (more like passing a stone).

Posted by lumi at 10:43 AM

REO on Goldberger on Gehry

The Real Estate Observer describes New Yorker architectural critic Paul Goldberger's review of Gehry's New York debut:

Paul Goldberger calls Frank Gehry's new West Side Highway building "serene," "swooping" and "daring." The critic forgot the adjectives "frosty" and "hideous" because he was saving his ire for Mr. Gehry's Atlantic Yards plan. But even at his bitchiest--he says the development isn't "palatable"-- Goldberger remembers his manners. (New Yorker)


Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM

Good Times

Frank Gehry v. Renzo Piano By resisting easy temptations Renzo Piano has ­accomplished something rare: unstrained symbolism.

By Philip Nobel

For some reason, Frank Gehry missed the opportunity to design New York's latest signature tower, the Times Tower developed by Forest City Ratner. Philip Nobel reviews a project that might have been built in comparison to a project that is still yet to be finished. Despite all of the hand-wringing about Gehry, Renzo Piano "pulled off a neat rare trick," and "has delivered a classic with grace, in a graceless corner of the city."

Gehry’s much bemoaned design would have taken the easier course. His building was itself a sign, a tower seemingly enfolded in newsprint, with that cheeky Times logo on high to ram the point home. The architect might have proposed it for any site—so all-consuming and evolution averse is his personal vision—but here, a short hot-dog toss from the faux bawdy of 42nd Street, it would have looked a lot like the path of least resistance. While retaining all the familiar tics of his style, Gehry tried to say “New York Times” in the new language of the New Times Square: in signs and symbols, loudly but only on the surface. In contrast, the Piano design employs the very stuff of architecture—the same steel that makes the building stand, the glass that shields it—to create a whole that says, with appropriate rigor, the New York Times resides here, if you please.


Posted by lumi at 8:02 AM

October 10, 2006

It came from the Blogosphere...

Gumby Fresh, Street Theatre
An omen? Forest City Ratner sponsors a gigantic traffic jam, as Flatbush Ave. is closed for a fair. This weekend's spectacle got GumbyFresh thinking about Atlantic Yards again.

Don't Worry It's Just Reality: Brooklyn Edition, Two New York projects show how to use Frank Gehry and how not to

Dreadnaught quotes from Paul Goldberger's New Yorker piece and then decides to tell us what he really thinks about Frank Gehry.

Sunset Parker, A child slays his father

What starts as a post about the end to the Dodger's post season...

In the oedipal series of the season, The Mets swept their antecedents like so many cro-mags using their larger brains to extinct the last tribe of neanderthals.

...ends up perpetuating a couple myths about Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal:

One reason for the move to L.A.: The deal to move them to The Atlantic Yards doesn't get off the table, because the right wheels don't get greased. Yes, The Atlantic Yards location has been intended for a sports team for fifty years and has been intended on having sky scrapers since the 1920's. If you were from here, you might know that- the dirty open secret surrounding the Atlantic Yards protesters is that virtually no one associated with them was actually born or even raised in Brooklyn.

NoLandGrab: The myth that the Dodgers wanted to build on Vanderbilt Yards was slayed a long time ago, at least, that's what we thought. Any old-timer could tell you that Walter O'Malley wanted to build his ballpark on what is now Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Center Mall and that Robert Moses nixed the idea because it "would create a China wall of traffic."

As for "virtually no one being born or raised in Brooklyn" amongst the Ratner critics, that's a perception that no one has managed to actually document. Anyway, if Ratner had wanted more white-faced recent-arrivals on his side, he would have put his money where their mouths are. The fact is that Ratner has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his "supporters" and even helped form one of the groups in his own boardroom.

David’s Blog, Journalism blogs

Jounalism student David Chiu gives props to Atlantic Yards Report:

Atlantic Yards Report. This is by a journalist, Norman Oder, who has been keeping up with the media coverage of the Atlantic Yards issue, including the New York Times.’ For the beat that I am covering, this is such a wealth of information. He really analyzes between fact and fiction when it comes to reports and media coverage.

David chose the Atlantic Yards "beat" over "Katie Couric" and "Lebanon Post-War."

AtlanticAveProject.jpgdcdomain.release.eight, Commute part 1: The Atlantic Avenue Project

Observations along a daily commute on a project that isn't very Ratner-esque.

Posted by lumi at 8:19 AM

October 9, 2006

GEHRY-RIGGED: Two New York projects show how to use Frank Gehry and how not to.


The New Yorker
PAUL GOLDBERGER presents a must-read look at Gehry's intentions.

In Brooklyn, the task is to create a coherent cityscape that relates comfortably to its surroundings. Gehry tried to do this by grouping some understated towers around a few very elaborate ones. (The six-hundred-and-twenty-foot-high main tower, foolishly named Miss Brooklyn, is full of self-conscious Gehryisms.) Rather than giving a sense of foreground and background, the juxtaposition of plain and fancy just looks like a few Gehrys bought for full price next to several bought at discount.
Gehry has told me that he sees the project as a kind of homage to the old Manhattan sky line, but the romance of that vista is a happy accident of diverse buildings in a tight web of streets. Atlantic Yards, by contrast, involves eliminating streets, and has the look more of a single structure spanning multiple blocks than of a townscape that has grown organically.


Atlantic Yards Report
New Yorker critic: Gehry's "talents hardly seem suited" to AY challenge

Goldberger likes Gehry's InterActive Corp. building in Chelsea, but he finds the mass and superblocks of Atlantic Yards inappropriate for the site, and he points out what critics charge and even some supporters acknowledge: the arena is the hook for the larger development.

Posted by amy at 10:14 AM

October 8, 2006

Whither The Towers In The Park

Regional Plan Association
Alex Marshall on Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town's "towers in a park":

But success as an idea is not the same as success in fact. Now probably no urban planning concept is more reviled. If ideas have peaks and valleys, towers in the park is in a valley.

And yet, what are the proposed towers by Frank Gehry for Atlantic Yards site in Brooklyn other than “towers in the park.” The planned towers for the World Trade Center site are at least somewhat “towers in the park,” or at least, towers in plazas.

Personally, I find the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper towers some of the ugliest in the city. Grim and monolithic, lacking ornamentation, they seem like an Orwellian projection of some Big Brother alternate future we managed to mostly avoid. True, you do see kids frolicking in the green spaces, and even the equivalent of stoop sales, but overall the grassy area between buildings seems like leftover land, that could have been put to better use within a traditional street grid.


Posted by amy at 10:21 PM

September 27, 2006

TONIGHT: American Masters, 9PM


Frank Gehry is a rare architect, garnering both critical acclaim and popular recognition. His designs dramatically blur the line between art and architecture, creating dynamic structures and unpredictable interiors. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the program captures the shy, elusive and creative architect and illuminates Gehry's innovative process -- including expansive depictions of the Guggenheim Museum and the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington. (Closed Captioning) (Stereo)

Click here for details and other airtimes.

Posted by lumi at 12:26 PM

September 21, 2006

Rising Building Costs Send Gehry Project in Downtown Los Angeles Over Budget

The NY Times
By Jennifer Steinhauer

Escalating costs are threatening to drive architect Frank Gehry's Downtown Los Angeles project 40% over budget.

Increased construction costs have bedeviled projects on both the East and West Coasts and in cities like Las Vegas.


Posted by lumi at 6:44 AM

September 20, 2006

The Frank Gehry-inspired toaster

GehryToaster.jpgWhat would a Frank Gehry toaster look like? A crumpled up toaster (duh!).

It was inevitable that someone would design the Frank Gehry-inspired toaster.

Since Gehry is known for creating environmental hazards caused by the heating of the titanium panels, we do not recommend laying hands on the toaster while in use.

In a purely juvenile exercise, we wondered what Bruce Ratner's toaster-shaped Atlantic Terminal toaster would have looked like if it had been designed by Gehry.


Posted by lumi at 7:09 AM

“There is progress everywhere” —Frank O. Gehry

Picketing Henry Ford

Stuart Schrader explains how Gehry's use of aerospace engineering tools as architectural design tools has changed the relationship between the architect and tradesmen. The future doesn't look as bright for Atlantic Yards's most vociferous supporters.

As Andrew Friedman reported in his evisceration of the Gehry spectacle in The Baffler a couple years ago, Gehry once said that his achievement has been to thrust the architect into a position of power over the myriad parties involved in construction of large projects because of his technological advances, specifically CATIA. ...
The workforce for a mega-project such as this one will be significantly smaller than it would be if Gehry were not the chosen architect. Rather than an army of Brooklyn locals engineering and building the project on-site, the buildings will be designed on computers, under Gehry’s direction, in California. Many pieces of the buildings will be prefabricated elsewhere (in China?) by subcontractors that have demonstrated their fidelity to Gehry’s economic and technological vision.


Posted by lumi at 7:01 AM

September 14, 2006

Gaphattan builder: Stay small

The Brooklyn Papers

Manhattan architect Richard Meier — famed for his iconic, celebrity-filled glass-walled towers on West Street in Manhattan — celebrated his first Brooklyn building last week with a warning to his fellow master builders: Keep it small.
“Brooklyn has its own scale, a human scale — that’s why Brooklyn is great,” he said, in an implicit criticism of Frank Gehry’s skyscraper-filled design for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards.

“Other builders can build tall, but that’s not for me. I build to Brooklyn scale.”


Posted by lumi at 10:51 PM

August 15, 2006

Shrill Of The Week: Weeds

wildflower.jpgLast week Dope on the Slope fully embraced his inner-shrill. This week he rhapsodizes about "weeds" and wildflowers and wonders what Marty has been smokin'.


Posted by lumi at 11:11 AM

August 10, 2006

Disney Settles with Contractors Over L.A. Concert Hall Overruns

Engineering News-Record
By Tony Illia

LAPhil.jpgA settlement was reached last month on construction cost overruns at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, three years after

General contractor M.A. Mortenson Co., Minneapolis, filed suit one month after the hall’s opening in October 2003, claiming that it and 10 subcontractors were owed $43.3 million because of design changes that resulted in delays and project overruns. The 293,000-sq-ft building, designed by Gehry Partners LLP, Los Angeles, finished six years late and $174 million over budget. The total tab came to $274 million.


NoLandGrab: Please don't tell us that this presages a 2017 tip-off for the Nets and an $11-billion tab for the entire project.

Posted by lumi at 10:26 PM

August 4, 2006

Frank Gehry can do Small

Missed this one from a couple of weeks ago, but we couldn't stop ourselves from sharing:

We on the footprint of the Atlantic Yards know that Gehry can do gargantuan wonky matchstick buildings. But did you know Gehry does small?



Posted by lumi at 1:53 AM

July 27, 2006

Gehry's Guggenheim effect

gehry-abudhabi.jpgCBS News, Guggenheim to Build Museum in Abu Dhabi

The Guggenheim announced plans Saturday for a Frank Gehry-designed art museum in Abu Dhabi, a coup for the small Persian Gulf nation and the latest international franchise for the ambitious foundation.

The museum would sit on a manmade spit jutting into the Gulf from the currently uninhabited Saadiyat Island, which lies adjacent to Abu Dhabi. With a price tag of just over $200 million, the building would be completed in about five years.

Speaking to The Associated Press, the Canadian-born architect said the Arabian desert has a "much different feel" than the desert near his California home and would require him to "invent a different kind of architecture that belongs here.

"I want to play off the blue water and the color of the sand and sky and sun," Gehry said Saturday. "It's got to be something that will make sense here. If you import something and plop it down, it's not going to work."


NoLandGrab: Gehry's concern for context and character, "something that's going to make sense here," is touching.

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere...

CultureVulture, The Guggenheim effect

Is the Guggenheim today's equivalent of Planet Hollywood? During the 1990s, it seemed like anywhere lucky enough to acquire an outlet of the celebrity-sponsored restaurant chain had been admitted into some exclusive club of elite global cities. Now it seems you're not on the map unless you've got a Guggenheim, writes Steve Rose.

The latest grateful host is Abu Dhabi, where Frank Gehry - architect of the spectacular Bilbao Guggenheim - is due to design the biggest Guggenheim yet.

For 20-something Garfield fans who repeatedly dream of trying to ship Gehry to Abu Dhabi:
Abu Dhabi, it's far away. Abu Dhabi, that's where you'll stay.
Abu Dhabi, the place to be. For any kitten who's annoying me, yeah!
Abu Dhabi, it's off the track. Abu Dhabi, now don't come back.
Abu Dhabi, it's quite a thrill. For any kitten who can make me ill!
Now some take a train, and some take a plane.
But I am sending you, not on a boat, or even by goat. But in a box marked "Postage Due."
Abu Dhabi, you're what they lack. Abu Dhabi, now you're all packed.
Abu Dhabi, a far commute. For any kitten who is too darn cute!

Posted by lumi at 8:50 PM

It came from the Blogosphere...

Stay Free, Kelo Killed in Columbus
Commentary on yesterday's Ohio Supreme Court decision siding against eminent domain abuse makes an astute observation about Bruce's roots:

Ironically, Bruce Ratner is himself from Ohio; if he tried to pull this crap in his hometown he couldn't do it anymore.

NoLandGrab: Suppose someone should alert the owner of this banner that it is now illegal for Bruce Ratner to "plunder Cleveland," though it is still within the law for Ratner to "go home."

The Gowanus Lounge, Brooklyn Double Speak of the Week: "Friendly Condemnation
A blogger's musings on "friendly :) condemnations:"

happy_face.gifCan someone who speaks English, rather than Double Speak, please tell us this: What in the name of God is a "friendly condemnation"? Is it like "friendly fire," which even though it's a big, bad boo-boo, still leaves the recipient as dead as he who is on the recieving end of old-fashioned unfriendly fire? Or is it like what your significant other does when he or she is breaking up with you but still wants to be friends, berating you terribly--but in a very nice way--so that after 12 or so months of weekly therapy sessions you can still be friends?
Anyway you cut it, there will be a whole lot of good, old fashioned unfriendly condemnation going on if the project goes forward, and some of these takings of property will become the subject of the litigation that could ultimately determine the project's fate. Daniel Goldstein, who is the most outspoken of the Atlantic Yards opponents whose property would be taken in a most unfriendly way, is deeply convinced that the eminent domain will be the soft underbelly that kills the project.

yummy.jpg Dope on the Slope, Ice Cream Castles
Dope serves up "Superblock a la Mode" to Frank Gehry, inspired by this little tidbit from Slate's review of "Sketches of Frank Gehry."

An entire neighborhood of Gaudí—or Gehry—would be like a meal of only ice cream. Too much of a very good thing.

Posted by lumi at 7:40 PM

We'll always have Dusseldorf

dusseldorf.jpgIs this a sick joke, or a twisted attempt to show people in Prospect Heights that Frank Gehry's work ain't that bad when you look at it from a distance?

Either way, it's not playing well on Vanderbilt Avenue, just a stone's throw from the footprint of Frank Gehry's proposed superblock mega-city.

This ad for the City of Dusseldorf (click image for detail), spotted on a B69 bus shelter at Vanderbilt and Prospect Place, prominently features Frank Gehry's Der Neue Zollhof.

At a mere 12 stories, the project dominates the Rhine riverfront, making the prospect of Atlantic Yards, with 16 Gehry highrises and an arena, hard to swallow for the low-rise Brooklyn neighborhood.

Gehry buildings, such as Der Neue Zollhof or the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, have become international calling cards for second cities touting their trendiness and "good taste." However, this up-close examination by Project for Public Spaces of Gehry's total lack of a knack for creating viable urban environments, doesn't bode well for Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 5:57 AM

July 26, 2006

Frank Gehry on Film

What a new documentary does and doesn't say about the famous architect.

By Witold Rybczynski

Gehry-Pollack.jpgA critque of Sydney Pollack's most recent film, "Sketches of Frank Gehry," not only points out that Pollack admittedly knows little about making documentaries or architecture, but also indirectly makes the case that Gehry knows little about urban design.

"It's not just that I didn't know anything about making documentaries. I didn't even know anything about architecture," says Hollywood director Sydney Pollack, recalling his reaction to Frank Gehry's request that he make a movie about his work. "That's why you're perfect," Gehry is supposed to have answered. After seeing Sketches of Frank Gehry, I'm not so sure.
Pollack includes a token negative critic in the film, art historian Hal Foster. The Princeton professor is unconvincing, but there is a real criticism of Gehry to be made. He is currently designing two large urban real-estate development projects, one in Brooklyn and one in downtown Los Angeles. How suitable will his whimsical, idiosyncratic approach be for city building? My guess: not very. It's not a question of size, or density, or art in the service of commerce. The urban renewal of the 1960s demonstrated the peril of architects designing entire neighborhoods. This is no less true of gifted architects. Expressionistic virtuosos—Borromini, Antonio Gaudí, or that Art Nouveau genius, Hector Guimard—created wonderful buildings, which are wonderful precisely because they are exceptional. An entire neighborhood of Gaudí—or Gehry—would be like a meal of only ice cream. Too much of a very good thing.


Posted by lumi at 8:55 AM

June 28, 2006

Gehry's Death Wish for Brooklyn.

HereinVanNuys.com considers novelist Jonathan Lethem's open letter to architecht Frank Gehry and agrees that Gehry's legacy stands in the balance.

Lethem predicts that if Gehry stays connected with this ill-conceived project, that his legacy in New York will be judged badly.
Lethem’s political analogy is correct. Back room builders and politicians, to promote an agenda of regressive and exploitative development, now own the name “Frank Gehry” in a PR mission to sell the public junk architecture. Like the flags waving in the background of Fox News, Gehry’s name on a project is a way to make palatable the civic destruction, governmental bribery and tax loophole mendaciousness of our new robber barons.


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

June 27, 2006

Bard of Brooklyn savages Gehry's 'wedding dress' blocks

Gehry-Press-UKGuardian.jpg The Guardian
By Paul Arendt

Frank Gehry is fighting a war on both sides of the Atlantic. The Pritzker prize-winning septuagenarian architect is already embroiled in a long-running battle to build a pair of tower blocks on Hove seafront, described by Gehry as "Victorian women in wind-blown dresses". Now it seems that he has some even more formidable opponents than the genteel residents of Brighton and Hove: angry Brooklynites.
Like Brighton's controversial towers, the tallest block in the development was inspired by female fashion. Its billowing lower planes were based on a wedding dress, and Gehry has christened the 620ft block "Miss Brooklyn" - which has enraged Lethem even further. "Pardon me, but bleeech," he wrote. "I don't know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronising. But somehow I doubt that any have."


Posted by lumi at 8:31 AM

June 21, 2006

Lethem's open letter to Gehry makes waves in the Blogosphere

Gehryzilla.jpg Blog About Town, BROOKLYN'S TROJAN HORSE

Ratner and his cronies owe Brooklynites an apology for being so deceptive about the disruptive effect their scheme is likely to have on the community.

Crazy Stable, Fortress of Rectitude

[Lethem] lays out in devastating clarity the awfulness of this plan, and scores a few points about Gehry and Ratner that I've never seen made quite so well.

Literary Kicks, Jonathan Lethem Protests Frank Gehry Building in Brooklyn

In fact, I gave Lethem's open letter to Frank Gehry a fair read -- and I disagree with him, not automatically but completely nonetheless.

Fancy Robot, Rudderless Brooklyn

Lethem, of course, follows the quote with just the sort of elegance one would expect from a writer of his calibre:

"Pardon me, but bleeechh."

My thoughts exactly, Jon.

Posted by lumi at 7:29 AM

Lethem Lets Gehry Have It

Brooklyn Record on Jonathan Lethem's open letter to Frank Gehry:

Jonathan Lethem, a native and current resident of Boerum Hill and our favorite local novelist, addresses Frank Gehry about "the ill-conceived and out-of-scale flotilla of skyscrapers you propose to build on a series of sites between Atlantic Avenue and Dean Street in Brooklyn," a.k.a. the Atlantic Yards project. For those who haven't been keeping up with the AY debate, his letter eloquently lays out the standpoint of those who oppose the project.


Brownstoner, Lethem Comes Out Swinging at Gehry

Posted by lumi at 6:52 AM

June 19, 2006

Brooklyn's Trojan Horse

What's wrong with the buildings Frank Gehry wants to put in my neighborhood?


Slate-Slideshow.gif Native Brooklyn novelist Jonathan Lethem tells Frank Gehry what he really thinks about the Atlantic Yards plan.

Letham on scale:

The scale of this project was one of Ratner's company's preconditions for the site; it's not something that originates in your aesthetic. Guess what? It's a huge mistake—emphasis on the huge.

...on Gehry's development partner Forest City Ratner:

In the spirit of calling a liar a liar, let me be absolutely clear: Your partners have been lying to Brooklyn.

...on "Ratner's abhorrent track record:"

it's these dim, soul-crushing buildings that created such distrust in Brooklynites in the first place.

...on the Williamsburg Savings Bank tower:

Your proposal would both dwarf and block sight of the tower, the rough equivalent of erecting a new World Trade Center within a block or two of the Chrysler Building.

...on the narrative behind "Miss Brooklyn:"

Pardon me, but bleeechh. I don't know whether many great buildings have been founded on notions at once so metaphorically impoverished and so slickly patronizing.

open letter

Posted by lumi at 3:27 PM

June 8, 2006

Gehry Gets Extension on WTC Arts Center

WNYC Radio News

Another reminder that NY City is due to be awash in Frank Gehrys:

The Lower Manhattan development corporation gave architect Frank Gehry an extra year on his contract to design a performing arts center for the World Trade Center site.

Gehry was hired in 2004 to design the arts center, which has no announced budget or opening date. Madelyn Wils, an LMDC board member and former chair of a downtown community board, said plans to relocate part of a new transit hub on the arts center's site would indefinitely put off the project.

The LMDC says it hopes to conduct some construction work on the arts center in tandem with the work on the temporary entrances for the transit hub, and avoid significant delays.


NoLandGrab: Bruce Ratner hired Frank Gehry to soothe the cultural critics who are quick to point out that Ratner's previous projects are the architectural equivalent of muzak.

Now Frank Gehry's IAC HQ on the Westside of Manhattan is under construction and work on the Beekman Tower (another Ratner project) is about to begin, while the WTC arts center and the Brooklyn Arts District Theater for a New Audience, in addition to Ratner's 16-high-rise/arena mega-project, are on the drawing board (have we forgotten any?).

As the starchitect becomes the flavor du jour in Gotham, is it possible that New Yorkers will soon tire of the Gehry glut?

Posted by lumi at 8:01 AM

June 6, 2006

Gutterland ConflictWatch™: Who Loves Piano, Baby?

Gutter posts a reader's commentary on Nicky O's weekend "meditation" on the relationship between big developers and starchitects, featuring Forest City Ratner and architects Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano.

Nicolai writes: "Neither the Beekman nor the Times tower can be considered revolutionary work for Mr. Gehry or Mr. Piano. But they do send a message that serious design can emerge from collaborations with mainstream developers."
Renzo Piano is not a tall building architect, and he could no more have won this tall building commission without FXFowle than Frank Gehry could have won it without his own competition partner, David Childs of SOM.
Dreamers? Bring them on. But if they're going to design a tall building, they had better understand that a tall building is a different sort of machine than a museum is, and they had better bloody well have the design chops to back up that understanding in the real world. Whether or not the Times, through its critic, wishes to admit this in print, the paper understood it well enough in practice to demand that Piano be paired with an architect who could "get things done." Indeed, this -- not roof gardens or ceramic tubes -- is where "serious design" begins.


Posted by lumi at 7:49 AM

June 5, 2006

Deceptive Skyline?

On Sunday, Norman Oder of Atlantic Yards Report pointed out another case of a slightly deceptive Gehry-Ratner rendering.

Here's the visual aid.

Frank Gehry Skyline in Brooklyn lookin' a little deceptive.

Oder's comment:

By the way, can you tell from this graphic that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, at right, is actually 108 feet shorter than the 620-foot Miss Brooklyn, the tallest building in the proposed Atlantic Yards plan? Or that the bank is just one foot taller than the second-tallest building proposed? It sure doesn't look that way.

NoLandGrab has made a similar point with all of the photo-renderings issued at Frank Gehry's May 11th press conference.

In terms of scale, bulk and density, you really have to look carefully — these days, all of the Ratner-Gehry promotional material is looking a little deceptive, and seems to articulate the message that the project isn't really as big as everyone says it is.

Posted by lumi at 9:29 AM

June 4, 2006

We hold these truths to be self-evident

VERITAS et VENUSTAS gives a run-down of Frank Gehry's declining design chops:

And now we come to what will probably be Gehry's worst work, the proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn. Yes, it sits in a traditional city fabric, but it is an enormous project that spills out from its site to wipe out blocks of existing fabric and tower over the neighbors. There is so much of the mega-project that it is its own context. And frankly, given that situation, Gehry doesn't seem to know what to do.

It is an axiom of design that restraints bring out creativity and produce the best result. Michelangelo's Campidoglio in Rome is often used as an example of this principle: given two existing buildings to work with in creating a plaza, Michelangelo used the odd angle between the two to create one of the most beautiful piazzas in Rome. In Brooklyn, Gehry and the developer Forest City Ratner are simply bulldozing too much of what's already there.


Posted by amy at 8:07 AM

June 3, 2006

Skyline for Sale


But if the Gehry-Ratner lovefest has raised an expectation of innovative design, it has also stirred unease. Few would question Mr. Gehry's talent. The question is whether he has allowed his experimental ethos to be harnessed for the sake of maximizing a developer's profits. It's also fair to ask whether Mr. Gehry and other gifted architects have made a pact with the Devil, compromising their values for the sake of ever bigger commissions. Beyond that, their collaboration points up a major change in the way cities are being built. There was a time when government took an interest in big urban planning projects. Mr. Ratner and Mr. Gehry are operating under a model by which the government plays only a marginal role. Bigger social concerns, like housing for mixed incomes, equal access to parks and transit, and vibrant communal spaces, which were once the public's purview, now increasingly fall to developers to address or not, as they see fit.

Atlantic Yards Report gives Ouroussoff points for not gushing over Gehry, but contests the overall message:

Blame the guv'ment? Ouroussoff gives Gehry & Ratner a pass, punts on scale

Ouroussoff treats the project is on track, with no acknowledgement that the environmental review process remains in the early stages. (We’re still waiting for a Draft Environmental Statement.) He makes no effort to assess the appropriate scale and its attendant effect on traffic, transit, and park space. He suggests that the recent token scaleback was a result of “heeding local protests” rather than the developer’s political calculation.

The critic maintains that pedestrian passageways serve as extensions of the street grid. He ignores Gehry's dismissive attitude toward local critics. And he suggests, spuriously, that citizens should blame the government, which has abandoned its vital public role, rather than more explaining that saying that the government has abdicated oversight and planning for this specific project.

Posted by amy at 8:07 PM

June 2, 2006

Rereading Ouroussoff on AY and Gehry: reinventing Brooklyn or flawed process?

This is the second part of a two-part look at the appraisals by New York Times architecture critics of Frank Gehry's evolving Atlantic Yards design, and also at some of their other Gehry coverage.

As noted yesterday, both Herbert Muschamp and Nicolai Ouroussoff have enthusiastically, even rapturously, endorsed the design by Frank Gehry, all the while making fundamental errors in describing the site, failing to add important context about scale and density, and failing--completely in Muschamp's case, partly in Ouroussoff's case--to acknowledge Forest City Ratner's lousy architectural track record in Brooklyn.

A critic has called Ouroussoff (right) "Herb Jr.," and the two share some critical tendencies; Ouroussoff's piece on the Atlantic Yards plan was only marginally less hyperbolic than Muschamp's gush. His past coverage of Gehry, though, has been slightly more mixed; the critic has enthusiastically praised the architect, but also offered some gentle criticism.


Posted by lumi at 7:40 AM

May 29, 2006

An arena grows in Brooklyn

The Newark Star-Ledger
Architecture critic Dan Bischoff reviews architect Frank Gehry's latest designs for Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal by going beyond the models to consider the implications of Gehry's method and the shortcomings of celebrity:

Part of the problem is Gehry's method. He rather famously proceeds in fits in starts, proposing designs, changing them, engaging his (usually) billionaire clients in the sturm und drang of artistic creation. It works great when you're focussed on the relationship between a single client and the architectural genius, but when the client is a thousand people, few of whom have ever wanted to live in an American suburb, it gets hairy. And we do remember the billion-dollar museum plan Gehry unveiled for the Guggenheim a few years back, slated for the East River just off the South Street Seaport. That'll never happen.

Celebrity is as celebrity does.


From Atlantic Yards Report:

So, in the third review of the new architectural plan for the Atlantic Yards project, after reviews in the Sun and Newsday (hey, where's the Times?), a critic finally looks at the bigger picture, not just the social forces behind the building battle but also whether it's worth it all. In an essay today under the cliched (and 16-towers avoiding) headline An arena grows in Brooklyn, Star-Ledger art/architecture critic Dan Bischoff notably opines that the community "givebacks... seem relatively paltry compared to the scale of the overall project."

Also, he acknowledges skepticism "about whether anything even remotely approaching these models will be built," given architect Frank Gehry's age and the typical fits and starts in an architectural project.

Posted by lumi at 2:17 PM

Does Gehry have a stake in the Atlantic Yards development?

Atlantic Yards Report author Norman Oder recently came across a review of Deyan Sudjic's latest book, "The Edifice Complex." The reviewer interviewed Sudjic, who made a point about Frank Gehry that left Oder wondering.

Deyan Sudjic:

Gehry now has the power to name his price. He’s now using his position—and the sense that his signature can transform the prospects of a commercial development—to actually take points in the development, which is fascinating.

Atlantic Yards Report: Now Sudjic was not talking directly about the Atlantic Yards project, the biggest project Gehry ever designed. Does Gehry's enthusiasm for the project extend beyond the opportunity to design his first arena, or a "neighborhood from scratch," as he erroneously said? Does he have a financial stake in the deal beyond his typical fee? We don't know, since it hasn't been discussed publicly, but the question's worth asking, especially given Gehry's assiduous support for the project.


Posted by lumi at 11:51 AM

May 28, 2006

HALL OF SHAME: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

GehryBilbao.jpg Project for Public Spaces

Tired of New Yorkers whining about Frank Gehry? Well, sorry, but here's one more that you have to check out before you make up your mind about the starchitect who wants to transform Brooklyn.

Read about how a middle-aged couple visiting Bilbao became an easy mark when isolated by architecture.

Though it is near the center of the city, the Guggenheim shuns any relation to its context. The building challenges locals and tourists (not to mentioned handicapped people) to enter some of the least inviting public spaces and entranceways anywhere.


NoLandGrab: To be fair, a comment posted after the piece on Bilbao observes that the Millennium Park in Chicago offers the city and its inhabitants a more usable public space.

Posted by lumi at 6:21 AM

May 27, 2006

Brooklyn Papers: Gehry slideshow

Gersh Kuntzman of The Brooklyn Papers has posted an online slideshow of Frank Gehry's latest images of Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards proposal, accompanied by a few interesting comments.


Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

May 26, 2006

Bridezilla Hits Brooklyn

Frank Gehry to City: “Drop Dead.”

The L Magazine
By Amanda Park Taylor

This is probably one of the most amusing spankings of Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin we've read so far:


Ratner’s complex features a phalanx of towers (16 of ‘em!), wildly out of scale with the surrounding neighborhoods of three- and four-storey buildings, the centerpiece of which is a massive 650-footer, Gehry’s oh-so-charmingly christened “Miss Brooklyn”, aka “The Bride.” He claims to have driven around Brooklyn in search of inspiration and a sense of place (perhaps someone should have told him that New Yorkers don’t ride around in cars, for starters: that may be how Angelenos experience their built environment but...) and in his peregrinations saw an actual Brooklyn bride, and modeled this central tower on her.

After Laurie Olin waxes poetic about Brooklyn's geology and topography, we cut through the doublespeak. Gehry & Olin to Brooklyn:

“We know they’re there, but we really don’t care about the streets (which we are going to close off and cover over), or the buildings (which we’re going to seize, destroy and cast into permanent shade) or the culture (which we’ll just push out or build over) or the people (ditto). We’re just gonna do what we want, candy-coat it with idiotic imagery (did I mention that in addition to the “Bride” there is, natch, a “Groom,” and also a “Dude the Bride is Going to Cheat on the Groom With” amongst the towers?) and pretend we’ve actually paid attention to something beyond our own agendas.” Here comes the bride....


Posted by lumi at 1:19 PM

May 25, 2006

If Miss Brooklyn and Mr. Beekman got married

The Frank Gehry submission for the NY Times Tower design competition, disinterred by "Dave the City Planner" (via Gutter), exposes the starchitect "ripping himself off."


Posted by lumi at 8:53 AM

May 23, 2006

CURBED.COM, Scoop: Curves on Gehry's Beekman building's

BeekmanSt2004-sm.jpg Here's a surprise, the Ratner-Gehry 72-story Beekman St. Tower is shiny and curvy.

Actually this model is probably from 2004. Since no renderings have been released since, it's all we have to go on.

Comment #3 offers this funny insider description of Forest City Ratner:

i was working on this project through early 2005 when a major client pulled out. this is an old rendering (sadly they refused to release any other renderings after this one). i concur with the leaker about forest city - they are 100% pricks. it was entertaining to watch them try to do cost analysis on this and realize that 75 stories of frank gehry is NOT CHEAP, even compared to the atlantic yards mess. they really want the project to be realized and will probably (continue to) rape and pillage to get it done ...


NoLandGrab Exclusive: In searching for inspiration for the tower, Gehry rejected the bride and maiden for a genuine NYC icon, the SUPERMODEL ("if you’d seen [her], you’d understand. I fell in love...").

Posted by lumi at 10:03 PM

Time to catch the wave

NY Newsday's review of the Atlantic Yards project describes Gehry's ego trip to Brooklyn, as reviewer Justin Davidson gets Brooklyn as well as Gehry understands it's body language.

The developer Bruce Ratner wants to import the New Jersey Nets and erect for them a majestic yet intimate arena on the arrowhead-shaped lot where Atlantic and Flatbush avenues cross. Stretching to the west [um, it's east] would be a high-rise Xanadu of offices, apartments, stores and restaurants, turning a dingy-chic wedge of city into a bright new campus.

Typical architectspeak describes brownstone neighborhoods as a dull canvas in want of a stroke of genius:

All those mud colors, all the weighty Victorians and mile upon square mile of squat brick boxes will do nicely as a monochrome backdrop to his star turn.

Meanwhile, it's people who are the bedrock of this place called Brooklyn, hip and stodgy people who have resisted the anonymous grandeur of the most well meaning urban design.

Ironically, Davidson falls for the bride story, recycled from Gehry's Victorian maiden narrative, which was the part of Gehry's recent press conference that elicited the loudest collective groan.

He rode around the borough searching for inspiration and came across not a neighborhood or a civic structure, but a bride, a slow-motion vision out of a movie. Gehry, the auteur of place, had found the protagonist for his fantasy.

Gehry's fantasy could be Brooklyn's B movie, if Bruce Ratner lands the role of Moses:

Rather [Gehry and Ratner] are selling the borough on a new boast. Manhattan may get a building or two, but only Brooklyn will have a whole New Jerusalem, signed Frank Gehry.


When you're done "dancing about architecture," cruise on over to Atlantic Yards Report, where Norman Oder clears up some of Davidson's confusion over the facts and most pressing issues.

Posted by lumi at 8:40 PM


The NY Post
By Lois Weiss

An update on the Ratner-Gehry project in Lower Manhattan:

THE Frank Gehry-designed project that Forest City Ratner is developing on the NYU Beekman Downtown Hospital parking lot is starting to shape up.

The tower's just-revealed 876-foot height will top off as the tallest City Hall area structure - yes, taller than the nearby venerable 792-foot Woolworth Building. Nevertheless, despite earlier reports, it will be shorter than all the new buildings at ground zero.

That is taller than Gehry's "ego trip," Miss Brooklyn.

The building will contain the most expensive public school in NYC history, medical offices, luxury aparments and luxury condos.

No renderings have been released.

Gehry's spirited and wavy designs are slowly taking shape as buildable ones for Forest City's other huge project in Brooklyn for the Nets and Atlantic Yards.

A Forest City spokesperson was unaware of the details and had no comment.

Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum, said, "I'm certainly curious to see it because I'm sure it will be a tower with personality, and I would welcome that on the skyline."


Posted by lumi at 7:31 AM

May 22, 2006

"Sketches" of Gehry, but unencouraging hints for Brooklynites

Sketches of Frank Gehry Movie PosterAtlantic Yards Report

The ads for Sydney Pollack's new documentary Sketches of Frank Gehry excerpt words from reviews: “absorbing,” “seductive,” “superb,” and “a very fine documentary about our era’s master builder. Refreshing, instructive, and satisfying.”

Yes, Gehry’s designed some terrific buildings and had an important influence on architecture--and the camera loves the curves of the Guggenheim Bilbao and other sinuous structures. But international fame does not equal responsiveness to the community. While the film makes no reference to the Atlantic Yards project, but, viewed through a Brooklyn-centric lens, it offers offers some unencouraging hints: Gehry comes off as artist, not urban planner, is shown to possess a monumental ego, and appears to have been more concerned about being a "good neighbor" in Los Angeles than in Brooklyn. (At right, the director and his subject, old friends.)


Posted by lumi at 6:43 AM

May 18, 2006

Gehry in Brooklynighton

Veritas et Venustas


The form of the towers in Brooklyn, Gehry says, come from trying to understand the buildings of Brooklyn. And the form of the towers in Brighton come from trying to understand the buildings of Brighton. But anyone but Gehry would say the towers look a lot more like each other than anything else in either place.

John Massengale also reveals another example of the canned spam that Gehry uses in his PR poesy that reminds Brooklynites of a recent press conference.

Gehry's inspiration for Brighton:

"One thing that impresses me is the Victorian character of the town. I've got this picture of the maidens in their floating dresses in Brighton on the wall of my office. It's a kind of inspiration and the towers now do look as if they relate to that."

Gehry's inspiration for Brooklyn:

“When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that ‘Miss Brooklyn’ was a bride. She’s a bride with flowing veils. OK, I got carried away. But if you’d seen that bride, you’d understand. I fell in love with her.”


Brooklyn, Brighton,
To-may-to, to-mah-to,
Let's call the whole thing off.

There's a passionate defense of the ladies from the gentleman at Dope on the Slope:

Do you love the Brooklyn Bride with her flowing veil or is it the Billowing Brighton Betties with their floating dresses that inspire you? What other paramours do you have stashed around the globe? Please do the honorable thing sir. We must maintain some standards of decency.

Posted by lumi at 6:47 PM

That's No Lady, That's Ms. Brooklyn

Brooklyn Downtown Star

Nik Kovac reports from last week's Gehry-Stuckey-Olin press conference, at which points made by starchitect Frank Gehry and his colleagues led to contemplation of the loss of Brooklyn's manufacturing base, the "contrived-for-effect whimsy of the consummate artiste," and Bruce Ratner's love of Brooklyn.


Posted by lumi at 7:32 AM

May 16, 2006

Frank Gehry Presents: Atlantic Yards Mad-Libs!

mad_libs.jpg It's a mad, mad, mad, mad world as a Gutter reader consoles Brooklynites:

One small silver lining to the abomination darkening the skies of Brooklyn is that it’s given us the Gehry-Matic Mad-Lib Archi-Bullshit Generator. It’s fun for the whole family. Just in time for final reviews!

Head over to The Gutter:

to discover Frank's debt to Jane and the secret meaning of "fake scholarly humanist noun."

Posted by lumi at 5:15 PM

Miss Brooklyn?

Tony Fletcher's ¡JAMMING!

“We spent an enormous amount of time studying Brooklyn… trying to get a sense of what it is.” — Frank Gehry

The transplanted Brooklynite responds:

There are millions of people who live in Brooklyn, who love the Borough dearly and deeply, and have an intrinsic understanding of what works visually and structurally for its future benefit. Frank Gehry is not among them. That’s why he’s flailing around “trying to get a sense of what it is.” Anyone who has to deliver such a labored quote as that does not deserve to design the tallest skyscraper the Borough has ever seen. Nor should anyone who confesses to naming that building “my ego trip” be allowed to name it Miss Brooklyn. Unless he plans on putting a question mark after it? In which case the building name will prove all too prophetic.


Posted by lumi at 4:24 PM

In Favor of Building — Just Not These Buildings

NY Sun arts critic James Gardner takes the view that something will be built, but takes Gehry's design to task.

The implication is that it is the manifest destiny of Brooklyn to be built up and that Luddite reactionaries should not stand in its way.That may indeed be the case, but surely we can come up with something better than what Mr. Gehry has conceived.
Rising some 20 to 30 stories, these particolored buildings rear up over the Brooklyn skyline in wobbly set-backs that are simply too adorable to join at right angles. The conflict between the typology of the 1930s skyscraper, with its drably regular windows, and the ohso-contemporary betrayal of that regularity is to be taken, apparently, as a hallmark of Mr. Gehry’s rebellious integrity.

Worst of all is the projected centerpiece of the development, which bears the overly cute name of Miss Brooklyn. To say that this ill-kempt, misshapen and misbegotten vulgarity is poorly composed is to do nothing more than to acknowledge the stated aim of Mr. Gehry himself.There is supposed to be something bawdy and daring and rough-and-tumble about it — qualities that, we may suppose, Mr. Gehry associates with his mythologized view of Brooklyn. But the jazz and jauntiness fail to materialize in this out-sized and inert structure, which itself recalls the populist postmodernism of the early 1980s,a style that has long since ceased to amuse.



NoLandGrab: Gardner betrays some bias towards Bruce Ratner's spin when he writes that he's in favor of, "replacing the massive rail yards that now occupy the site to be developed."

Either Gardner actually knows that the 8.4-acre railyards is only a fraction of the 22-acre site and doesn't care, or he has just received an earful of spin from the Gehry-Olin dog-n-pony show making the rounds at an editorial board near you.

Posted by lumi at 7:20 AM

May 15, 2006

Voodoo Alert: Gehry Inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge

The Gutter stops short of saying that Frank Gehry is full of it, but lays it into him for "the sort of sloppy thinking that drives us totally insane," after viewing the video of the recent NY Times interview.

The good do-gooders at Atlantic Yards Report point us to their coverage of a recent Times video in which the starchitect-in-a-china-shop explains the, um, "research" he has undertaken to understand the culture and texture of the borough into which he is preparing to plop eight zillion square feet of generic fun-times crap.


The Gutter put out a call for more verse on Gehry and Atlantic Yards after saluting Dope on the Slope for last week's limericks (here and here).

Today's poetic offering, "To Frank Gehry on the Occasion of his Outer-Borough Success" may be a classic.

Posted by lumi at 12:26 PM

Gehry images reveal Atlantic Yards is smaller and shorter than Brooklyn

Our bad! The project isn't nearly as big or tall as we thought, at least according to Gehry's renderings.

Luddite activists standing in the way of progress can now safely go home, or picket Henry Ford instead, because, clearly, they were wrong.

As evidence, we offer Gehry's photographic renderings from several different locations and perspectives in surrounding neighborhoods.

The two photos that include the "Clock Tower" show clearly that the "iconic" Miss Brooklyn would not be as tall as all that (click to enlarge):

gehry11b.jpg gehry14b.jpg

In fact, Atlantic Yards is shorter than most trees and existing structures:

gehry10b.jpg gehry15b.jpg
gehry16b.jpg gehry18b.jpg

Atlantic Yards will also be mostly invisible (Site V in Park Slope is, like, barely there):

gehry12b.jpg gehry13b.jpg

And, Atlantic Yards won't have more than three or four buildings at a time:

gehry9b.jpg gehry17b.jpg

Atlantic Yards to Brooklyn: "Just pretend that I'm not even here."
There could be Gehry photo renderings that back the conventional wisdom that the project is enormous and out-of-scale, but these are all the images Forest City Ratner released.

On the other hand
For a purely amateur, but wide-angled and contrasting point of view, check out OnNYTurf's photo map of the project footprint and surrounds (mashup brought to you by Google Maps and 3-D renderings by Google Earth).

Posted by lumi at 11:25 AM

The News Interview: Frank Gehry

NY Daily News

Frank Gehry and Laurie Olin are taking their dog-n-pony show on the road, visiting editorial boards at the local dailies.

A short "softball" piece from the Daily News still manages to reveal that Gehry channels Jane Jacobs during his ego trip, in which he imagines he's "listening a lot to the neighbors":

There are some buildings that are background, some that are foreground. Miss Brooklyn (the tallest building), I call my ego trip. The rest of it is city planning, city organization, and we're having a lot of public input. We're listening a lot to the neighbors.

I spent a lot of time looking around Brooklyn, seeing what it is, what it has been in the past. And there's a kind of friendly messiness that I found. This is a way of expressing that.


NoLandGrab: Jane Jacobs used the term "messiness" to describe the chaos endemic to the organic development of livable neighborhoods. Lucky for Frank Gehry, Jacobs has passed, for surely she would bristle at the arrogant notion that "messiness" could be engineered and planned by a single architect for a single client.

Is the self-professed "liberal do-gooder" pretending that he met with the community, or has he actually met with them and is pretending to listen?

Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

May 14, 2006

Mom and Poppa Starbucks

starbucks.jpgDevelop Don't Destroy:

Above is a sketch from Laurie Olin, Ratner's landscape architect, of some hard to determine angle of their "Atlantic Yards" proposal. (We think its the corner of Atlantic and Sixth Avenue). Ratner/Stuckey have talked a lot about providing retail space for Brooklyn Mom and Pop shops (the small business engine that drives this country). The only retail signs shown in any of the renderings or sketches is the sign above–yup, its Starbucks. Next stop Poppa Sammy Walton.


Posted by amy at 6:01 PM

Gehry, Olin unveil progress on Atlantic Yards design

The Architect's Newspaper:

As the design is subject to change before the building is fully approved (final approval is expected after the Environmental Statement Impact and public review in October of this year), the purpose of the press conference remains a bit unclear. The greatest opposition to the project—concerned residents and community members—weren’t allowed into the fiercely guarded, press-only conference, which seems like an attempt to dodge accusations of secret planning that developers like the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation constantly face. Given the finality and certainty with which the designers and development team spoke, it seems that New York’s Gehryville, U.S.A. is here to stay.


NoLandGrab: We hope we detect a bit of a facetious jab in that last line...

Dan Goldstein responds to the article:

Dear Editors:

Jaffer Kolb, in his article "Gehry, Olin unveil progress on Atlantic Yards design," is absolutely right when he says the Gehry/Ratner plan " remains largely unchanged. " The presentation of the new plan was a closed-door PR event with little meaningful substance. But Mr. Kolb gets one major thing wrong (besides his dates–the plan was first unveiled in December 2003), which is understandable due to marketing trickery by the developer's, Forest City Ratner, team.

Kolb writes:

"The development, which includes a new 850,000-square-foot arena for the soon-to-be-relocated New York Nets, 600,000 square feet of office space, 6.8 million square feet of residential space, and a 165,000-square-foot boutique hotel, has developed significantly since designs were first unveiled last in 2004. In response to an influx of criticism from the community, 500,000 square feet has been shaved off of the original proposal, said Atlantic Yards Development Corporation president Jim Stuckey. "

Only the design (look and feel) has developed "significantly" and the shift of nearly 75% of the originally proposed commercial space–not viable in this market–to residential space has made one drastic change, reducing the original speculative job numbers 70% from 10,000 to roughly 3,000 only 700 of which might be new.

Even more striking is this. In December 2003 when the project was unveiled as a done deal with a summer of 2004 ground-breaking date, the project was 8.0 million square feet. In May of 2005 it was increased to 9.1 million square feet. Today the project is 8.6 million square feet. Though Gehry and Ratner's PR spokespeople would call that a scale down, mathematicians would call it a 600,000 square foot increase.

The developer and his architect think they can pull slick ones on the people of Brooklyn and New York City. But we are not fools.


Daniel Goldstein Develop--Don't Destroy (BROOKLYN)

Posted by amy at 10:54 AM

Arena signage in a residential district: only during games?

Atlantic Yards Report looks into the Daily News story about the minimizing of the neon:

How firm is Ratner's pledge? Would they not turn signs on for the circus? The Ice Capades? A concert? Note that this was a lobbying visit to the editorial board.
Panelist Michael Kwartler, an architect and planner, said the lighting might bring glare, perhaps so bright it would obscure the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. "You can either think of it as a positive or as light pollution," he added, noting that it might be helpful to pedestrians but a traffic hazard for vehicles.


Posted by amy at 10:49 AM

Shooting from the lip

Mike Lupica, Daily News:

And isn't it interesting that every time they hold another press conference over there, the way they did this week, that everything possible is done to exclude Ratner's opposition?

And that everybody, starting with architect Frank Gehry, wants to talk about everything except the high-rises?

It's like talking about Manhattan and talking about everything except the real tall buildings.

This remains, in broad daylight, one of the great shell games in the history of real estate in New York City.

Only the people in the neighborhood look at this thing honestly.

But isn't that what politicians - honorable ones, anyay - are supposed to do?


Posted by amy at 10:45 AM

The AY Monologues: Gehry invokes the Brooklyn Bridge, Olin laments those "frightened" of change

Atlantic Yards Report includes a transcription and analysis of the Atlantic Yards Proposal video appearing in the New York Times:

The newly-posted Times video titled New Design for Atlantic Yards verges on an infomercial--even though the new 'video' section of the Times web site is supposed to feature "more original Times video reporting," the Times Company said last month.


Posted by amy at 10:40 AM

May 13, 2006

Nets' Brooklyn arena design unveiled

NorthJersey.com has some bad news for all of you hoping for the cheap seats:

The Brooklyn arena would have only about 400 seats more than the arena being built in Newark for the New Jersey Devils hockey team. But about 3,200 of its seats would be premium, or "club," seats -- 50 percent more than in Newark. Nets owners also anticipate having nearly 120 luxury suites, compared with 74 in the Newark building.


Posted by amy at 2:48 PM

No neon for Nets arena, but foes still turned off

Daily News:

Don't expect flashy neon signs at the proposed Nets arena in Brooklyn.

Instead, developer Bruce Ratner plans to project images directly onto the glass building during games - but turn them off at other times to help it blend in with the surrounding area.


Because if it's not glowing we won't notice how big it is?

Posted by amy at 2:26 PM

Atlantic Yards Project Releases New Plans



New plans unveiled by architect Frank Gehry did not placate opponents of his high rise and arena development in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

REPORTER: Daniel Goldstein of the group Develop, Don't Destroy called the slightly scaled down version "window dressing" and that the buildings are too tall for the neighborhood.


Posted by amy at 2:17 PM

May 12, 2006


We've been trying to stay on top of the coverage and response to Gehry's latest designs for Atlantic Yards, chaotically throwing up links as them come in.

To mitigate the effects of the "delirious pile-up" of posts and the "messiness" of the media response, we offer this "usable" directory of posts since the Gehry-Olin-Stuckey media event.

Associated Press, Architect Gehry reveals more of plan for Nets arena in Brooklyn
Metro NY, Here she comes, Miss Brooklyn
The Newark Star-Ledger, A nirvana for the Nets brews in Brooklyn
NY Daily News, A trim for Yards work
NY1, Architect Frank Gehry Presents Designs For Atlantic Yards Project
NY Newsday, B'klyn Atlantic Yards plans unveiled
The NY Times, Developer Defends Atlantic Yards Plan for Brooklyn
NY Sun, Critics Unimpressed With Gehry's New Take on Arena
Reuters, Gehry unveils vision for Brooklyn arena

Archinet, NYT: New Design for Atlantic Yards Presented
Brooklynian, "How much uglier can it be?"
Brownstoner, Gehry's New Vision for Atlantic Yards
Curbed, Ratnerville Update: Frank Gehry's Latest Revealed
Develop Don't Destroy, New Atlantic Yards Proposal, Same as the Old Proposal
Dope on the Slope, Journalist Barred from Gehry Press Conference
Dope on the Slope, Son of Frankengehry
Dope on the Slope, A Limerick for Dr. Frankengehry
Gothamist, Gehry Redesigns the Atlantic Yards
Gowanus Lounge, And...Here's the View of Gehry Land from The Street: Big. Very Big.
The Gutter, Frank Gehry Goes Plop in Brooklyn
Jefferson St. Station, File under "any irony is purely unintentional"
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn, I REALLY LIKE FRANK GEHRY BUT...
NoLandGrab, Ground Control to Major Tom, Gehryland is Outta this World
The Real Estate Observer, Gehry, Gehry Everywhere...
Set Speed One Hanson Place, Looking forward to this?
Snarksmith, Up Goes Brooklyn (And Residents' Blood Pressure)

We couldn't keep up with Stormin' Norman Oder, so here are all of his links to his posts in the past two days:
Gehry: starchitect, "liberal do-gooder," misreader of community concerns
Street walls would be modest on Dean Street--well, part of Dean Street
FCR bans journalist from Gehry press conference, invites "community"
Ratner vs. Ratner: what a difference a week makes
Fantasyland views from Dean Street and Sixth Avenue
The view from Park Slope: huge (and where's the clock?)
Ms. Brooklyn at night (sans traffic)
A first look at the revised Ms. Brooklyn (and where's the traffic?)

Community boards to Ratner: Stop your fibbin’
Going Yard on Bruce
Marty snubs Ratner foes
Ratner’s poster girl is unhappy

The Journal News, Ridge Hill project moves ahead in Yonkers, without zoning

Posted by lumi at 9:33 AM

A Limerick for Dr. Frankengehry

Dope on the Slope

There once was a Brooklyn boondoggle
Its sheer size and scale made minds boggle
Taxpayers were piqued
So the starchitect tweaked
But this new lipsticked pig won't hornswoggle


But wait, there's more...

Posted by lumi at 8:46 AM

File under "any irony is purely unintentional"

Jefferson St. Station

They should've been picketing Henry Ford. There is progress everywhere. There is a constant change. The issue is how to manage it. —Frank Gehry

Mr. Gehry made this remark in reaction to protesters who objected to the proposed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. There's nothing like labeling your opponents as enemies of progress.


NoLandGrab: We've resisted calling Frank Gehry arrogant, because, to a certain extent, the project is dictated by his client Bruce Ratner. But to label those who are against '60s-style superblock urban renewal as "enemies of progress" is ironic indeed.

Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Gehry: starchitect, "liberal do-gooder," misreader of community concerns

Atlantic Yards Report

Barred from the press conference, Norman Oder catches up and comments on the mainstream media's coverage:

So here's what I missed when I was blocked from attending the press conference yesterday: architect Frank Gehry, a self-described "do-gooder, liberal," accusing critics in Brooklyn of being, basically, Luddites. “There is progress. There's constant change,” said Gehry, according to NY1. “People aren't riding around on horseback anymore.”
Why did Forest City Ratner hold the press conference yesterday rather than weeks earlier--when the slightly downscaled plan was released--or sometime later? No press outlet offered an explanation, but it might simply have been keyed to the new documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, directed by Sydney Pollack, opening today.


Posted by lumi at 8:22 AM

Son of Frankengehry

GehryatNight03.jpg Dope on the Slope

Forest City Ratner held a "spin and grin" today so that world-famous architect and cartoon character, Frank Gehry, could unveil his latest creation for the proposed Atlantic Yards megadevelopment.

Q: So what does 'Thoughtful analysis of Brooklyn "Body Language" to adapt the design so that it may be integrated into the surrounding community seamlessly" buy you these days?

A: Wow!!! The difference is so... so... Negligible.


Posted by lumi at 7:58 AM

Here she comes, Miss Brooklyn

GehryModel03-MetroNY.jpg Metro NY
By Amy Zimmer

Some interesting bits from the Metro NY article with running commentary:

Developer Bruce Ratner mailed several hundred thousand glossy brochures to Brooklynites recently in anticipation of a public meeting next month about his arena project. That meeting will kick off an approval process to bring the Nets to Brooklyn in 2009.

The public has not been informed of any public meeting next month. Reporter Amy Zimmer may be referring to the anticipation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Architect Frank Gehry, who called the design process a “monumental effort” in terms of the amount of models he has created for the project, is still in the process of “refining” the buildings. But throughout the process, the L.A.-based architect said he had been carefully studying the borough.

If you have the sense that the project looks better from above than at ground level, it's because Gehry's design process is very sculptural, using models to test and refine ideas. Bruce Ratner pays millions of dollars for these models, and the tab is rising.

According to Jim Stuckey, Forest City Ratner’s president of the Atlantic Yards Development Corporation, the buildings “have been brought down considerably in size” in a process that was “strategic and sculptural.”

A five-percent reduction from the previous plan is still an overall increase in size from the original scheme unveiled in September 2003. It would also hardly represent being "brought down considerably in size."


Posted by lumi at 7:42 AM


Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

OTBKB worships "at the altar of Frank Gehry" and then defends her borough.


I really, really respect the guy. Clearly this is a project close to his heart. What architect doesn't dream about creating a city from scratch. The trouble is: Brooklyn doesn't need a city within a city, a skylline within a skyline. It already is a city, a city with landmark architecture and one-of-a-kind beauty. It's just not the right blank canvas for Frank Gehry.


Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

Up Goes Brooklyn (And Residents' Blood Pressure)


Not since Judy Davis ("I wrote a paper at Radcliffe on how Bauhaus was the aesthetic equivalent of fascism") tried to f*ck Liam Neeson in Husbands and Wives have New York Jews been so angry about architecture.


Posted by lumi at 7:30 AM

Developer Defends Atlantic Yards Plan for Brooklyn

The NY Times
By Nicholas Confessore


From across the room, the new plastic-and-wood model of Brooklyn's proposed Atlantic Yards project — unveiled by the developer Forest City Ratner at a news conference today — looked a lot like the old one sitting a few feet away: A 22-acre swathe of glass, brick and metal towers that will loom over the surrounding neighborhoods and forever alter the borough's otherwise sparse skyline.

The Atlantic Yards design, unveiled today by the developer Forest City Ratner, faces opponents with a different vision for Brooklyn.

But in an hourlong presentation, Frank Gehry, the project's architect, and Laurie Olin, its landscape designer, emphasized details that they said would harmonize the project's scale with the neighborhoods it would border. They described shorter and thinner buildings on Dean Street, where the project abuts a mostly low-rise neighborhood, extensive use of glass walls at street level, and what Mr. Olin described as "the biggest stoop in Brooklyn," a sort of public porch planned for the southeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic.

"It still feels like Brooklyn," Mr. Olin said.

But Mr. Gehry, Mr. Olin and Forest City Ratner officials made clear that the developer and its opponents still have vastly different visions of what, exactly, Brooklyn should feel like, at least in this corner of the borough, where the bustling downtown commercial district shades into a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood of brownstones.


NoLandGrab: Despite the weekly prodding and flogging that The Times gets from Norman Oder's Atlantic Yards Report, reporter Nicholas Confessore takes a fairly evenhanded approach to the controversial Atlantic Yards development in this article (including a full disclosure of the relationship between Ratner and The NY Times Company and the use of eminent domain).

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

A nirvana for the Nets brews in Brooklyn

The Newark Star-Ledger article by Matthew Futterman focuses more on the arena portion of Frank Gehry's latest design:

Continental Airlines Arena it's not.

In an atmosphere more akin to the opening of a major art exhibition than the unveiling of a sports venue, the Nets and architect Frank Gehry showed off the latest design of their planned arena in Brooklyn yesterday.

Since purchasing the National Basketball Association team two years ago, Bruce Ratner has been promising to deliver an arena unlike anything any sports fan has ever seen. Yesterday Ratner's hand-picked architect delivered on that promise.

During a 45-minute slide show at the Atlantic Center Mall across from the proposed site, Gehry delivered an illustrated tour of an arena designed to be both large and intimate.


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

Critics Unimpressed With Gehry's New Take on Arena

GheryModel03-NYSun.jpg NY Sun
By David Lombino

This image ran on page one.

Here's the lead from the article on page two:

New designs by one of the world's most renowned architects are failing to win over neighborhood critics of the most ambitious development project planned for Brooklyn in decades.


Posted by lumi at 6:53 AM

A trim for Yards work

New & smaller look for B'klyn buildings

NY Daily News article by Jego R. Armstrong and Elizabeth Hays says the new design is "kinder and gentler" and finds two people in Brooklyn who agree that it "looks more like it suits Brooklyn."

Architect Frank Gehry now has a kinder and gentler vision for Brooklyn.

Nearly a year after his futuristic designs for the controversial Nets arena complex sent shudders through parts of the borough, Gehry released revised plans yesterday.

The article quotes Gehry channeling the late Jane Jacobs, repeating one of the terms that informed her vision of livable neighborhoods, "messiness":

"We've tried to break down the scale," Gehry said, and mirror "the messiness of Brooklyn - messiness in a good way."


Posted by lumi at 6:42 AM

NYT: New Design for Atlantic Yards Presented

Archinet, News

Some reaction to the photo that ran with the NY Times article:

"it looks like the newyork new york casino in Las Vegas. haha. good luck Brooklyn"

"gahaha... what an obvious curve ball. bunch of units and and a baseball love... gahaha. whata pitch. i can see run lola run circling the condostadium..."

"of course the design sucks but oh well. Forget listening to the people who know nothing about architecture and are anti progressive. Well they should be listened to but also told that this is it. skyscrapers and higher density. I think it's a great center piece."


Posted by lumi at 6:35 AM

May 11, 2006

Architect Gehry reveals more of plan for Nets arena in Brooklyn

AP, via NY Newsday
By David B. Caruso

AP sends a new reporter who has a hard time parsing fact from fiction at the Ratner press conference.

By 2009, the NBA's Nets could be playing home games beneath the billowing glass skirts of a 60-story skyscraper nicknamed Miss Brooklyn.

To start with, anyone who believes that the Nets will be playing in the arena in 2009 is probably in contract for a nearby bridge.

So far, Caruso is the only reporter who bought the parking line:

Any fans thinking about trying to drive in for a game should fuhgeddaboutit.

"It's not an arena in a parking lot, like in the Meadowlands," Gehry said.

Last month, Aaron Naparstek and Jonathan Cohn both revealed that Ratner planned on using the eastern portion of the site as surface parking for the arena until (and if) the rest of the project gets built.

And here's Ratner's party-line coup:

Few are mourning what Ratner's development will replace _ a railyard, ugly industrial buildings and hodgepodge of auto repair shops _ but hundreds of protesters have marched and rallied to complain about the expected influx of new residents and traffic.

Huh? Which one of those would be Dan Goldstein's place?


NoLandGrab: This article has been picked up by media outlets nationwide, which is too bad. It's really not Caruso's fault; our experience watching the mainstream media cover Bruce Ratner's $3.5-billion development has informed us that reporters who are green to this story usually fall for Ratner's spin until they get up to speed on all of the issues.

Typically, we leave the detailed media commentary to Atlantic Yards Report, but this article was so far out in Gehryland that we had to do our own "Oderous" analysis.

The Reuters wire story, "Gehry unveils vision for Brooklyn arena," by Martine Geller is more straightforward (read: isn't a publicity coup for Bruce Ratner).

Posted by lumi at 10:23 PM

B'klyn Atlantic Yards plans unveiled

NY Newsday sports writer Barbara Barker doesn't fall for the hoops hype:

Architect Frank Gehry unveiled a revised plan for a proposed Nets Arena complex in Brooklyn Thursday, one that the project's developer is touting as a friendlier, scaled-down version of the mini-city that also includes a hotel, office buildings, apartment towers and retail space.

The new proposal keeps the 18,000 seat sports arena, but reduces the maximum size of the Atlantic Yards project by more than 400,000 square feet, down to under 8.7 million feet. Most of the reduction will come from the elimination of market-rate condominium units, though the project remains Oz-like in scale, including 16 towers, ranging in height from 19 to 58 stories.


Posted by lumi at 10:11 PM


Gehry lightly tweaks Ratner’s ‘Yards’ plan, says boro wedding inspired tallest tower

Brooklyn Papers
By Gersh Kuntzman


The “bride” will wear aluminum.

Architecht Frank Gehry unveiled slightly slimmed down towers and an update on the classic Brooklyn stoop, in fresh renderings for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards mega-development revealed Thursday. He also told how he came up with the design for the project’s most controversial building — the 62-story “Miss Brooklyn Tower” — likening it to a bride.

Opponents of the 22-acre, $3.5-billion project were unimpressed.

“It’s a Frank Gehry sheen on repudiated, 1960s-style urban renewal,” said Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn.

Discussing “Miss Brooklyn,” which would sit at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, Gehry said, “When we were studying Brooklyn, we happened upon a wedding, a real Brooklyn wedding. And we decided that ‘Miss Brooklyn’ was a bride.”

The renderings of Miss Brooklyn showed a shimmering, wavering, aluminum-clad tower, with a 120-foot glass-walled atrium called “the Urban Room,” a hotel in the first few floors, dozens of stories of office space, and residental condos up top.

“She’s a bride with flowing veils,” Gehry said. “OK, I got carried away. But if you’d seen that bride, you’d understand. I fell in love with her.”

Kuntzman also busts Gehry for felonius use of Jane Jacobs, as the starchitect co-opts the verbiage of the Urbanist movement to convince detractors that his latest designs sincerely embrace the principles of "usable space," "existing fabric" and "connection to the texture of existing buildings."


Posted by lumi at 9:39 PM

Gehry Redesigns the Atlantic Yards


Much will be made about Gehry's general comments about Brooklyn: "We're trying to understand what is Brooklyn, what is the body language of Brooklyn and trying to emulate it without copying it. Copying it would trivialize it." Wait a minute - doesn't a massive development literally trivialize other parts of Brooklyn?

Develop-Don't Destroy Brooklyn says the new designs are just windowdressing - it's still too big! Gehry's diss to the protesters: "They should've been picketing Henry Ford. "There is progress everywhere. There is a constant change. The issue is how to manage it." DDDB's response: Gehry and Ratner never met with the community. This could go on forever! Or until the last piece of glass or brushed metal is put in place.


NoLandGrab: What have we gotten ourselves into? That last piece of glass or brushed metal, according to Ratner's schedule, is at least a decade away!

Posted by lumi at 8:34 PM

DDDB PRESS RELEASE: New Atlantic Yards Proposal, Same as the Old Proposal

New Design Is 16 Skyscrapers Worth of Windowdressing

BROOKLYN, NY ­ Today sports baron/developer Bruce Ratner's architect Frank Gehry unveiled updated plans for their "Atlantic Yards" proposal in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Except for handpicked supporters on Forest City Ratner’s payroll, the community was barred from the press conference, held in the architecturally and economically failed Atlantic Center Mall which happens to house the state agency (ESDC) charged with “reviewing” Ratner’s plan.

Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "The new design unveiled by Gehry and Ratner today is 16 skyscrapers worth of window-dressing. It puts a Gehry sheen on top of repudiated 1960's style urban renewal. It's still way too big, and does not change the fact of 16 skyscrapers slammed on top of and next to low-rise, historic neighborhoods. It does not change the fact that the proposal abuses eminent domain, spends at least $1.6 billion in taxpayer dollars, creates a traffic nightmare at Atlantic and Flatbush, is a security risk or that this project is a land grab by a wealthy sports baron developer.”

“The proposal remains an urban planning disaster in waiting, and this is because Mr. Gehry and Mr. Ratner continue to ignore the community. We are disappointed with Mr. Gehry, as he has never met with the communities surrounding the proposed development site. Thus DDDB and the community's fight continues with great strength," said DDDB President Eric Reschke.

The design unveiled today is over 600,000 square feet bigger today when the proposal was first announced and unveiled in December 2003. “Ms. Brooklyn,” the developer’s brand name for the 620 foot tower that would be built at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic hulking over and blocking views of the borough’s landmark Williamsburgh Bank Building, has not been reduced in size. Three buildings along the Western end of Dean Street, across from low-rise brownstone-type buildings would be 322 feet, 428 feet, and 272 feet. The heights of the buildings in the project overall would range from 190 feet (approximately 19 stories) to 620 feet (approximately 60 stories), with 11 of 16 buildings over 300 feet.

“Nothing released today comes even close to making a meaningful change in the proposal’s overwhelming impacts and size, and does not respond at all to the communities’ concerns. In fact, the proposal shown today is 600,000 square feet larger than when unveiled in 2003. Forest City Ratner and its architect Frank Gehry pretend that they are working with and listening to the community. They must be living in a sound proof booth.” Goldstein concluded.

Posted by lumi at 7:59 PM

Gehry, Gehry Everywhere...

GehryatNight2.jpg The Real Estate Observer
By Matthew Schuerman

The big Forest City Ratner high-security press conference today produced little news but lots of images: fewer crooked buildings and more straight lines, more titanium siding and less Las Vegas.

That different sense of scale, of course, is a lot smaller than the type of bulding he has been commissioned to design here. He does make a few token gestures to fit into the borough, however, but they definitely are tokens. The main one is the "largest stoop in Brooklyn" at the point of Atlantic and Flatbush, in front of the arena.


NoLandGrab: Not so fast. Gehry may not be showing off the Las Vegas aspects of the arena, but they're still on the drawing board.

On April 10, Times architecture critic Nicholai Ourousoff (filling in for Charlie Rose) and Gehry discussed new signage technology to be used at the arena (transcript via Atlantic Yards Report):

NO: We're talking about a layering around the exterior, this is around the arena in Brooklyn, it starts to peel apart, where the advertising and the facades of the buildings start to blur.

FG: So it's not there sometimes and it's there sometimes. There's a little bit of it, and there's more of it. And it can be used for community issues, as well as advertising. It has a social function, if it's played right, it can be used for art... How do you make that--everybody's getting it, whether they like it or not, it's all over us.

NO: Meaning people will have to live with this, so the question is: what can you turn it into.

FG: If I look at what Peter Arnell and I are doing right now, they're baby steps. I really think we've got to get into the technology and see where really the root of it. Y'know, LED is little tiny things, they sit on black background--it's not pretty yet. How do you turn it into something--that's the trick. And maybe there's something other than LED.

Today's press conference didn't reveal the signage in store for Gehry's Atlantic Yards because the public backlash to "Viva Las Vegas" would has been overwhelming, but like many things in Gehryland, you're not supposed to pay attention to the man behind the curtain.

On another note, we're not sure that Gehry's Urban Room "stoop" would actually be bigger than the current biggest stoop in Brooklyn, the new plaza/entrance at the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

Posted by lumi at 7:35 PM

And...Here's the View of Gehry Land from The Street: Big. Very Big.

FlatbushStMarksSmall.jpg Gowanus Lounge

Don't know about you, but this new rendition of Atlantic Yards as seen from Flatbush Avenue is a real, um, eye opener.

We will avoid the temptation to get into detailed analysis of Frank Gehry's redesign, the mass at immediate street level, etc. As one who is not averse to Gehry (and who actually finds the buidlings striking in some respects), GL would love the structures if they were in, say, Midtown.


Posted by lumi at 7:29 PM

Looking forward to this?

GheryModel3a.jpg OneHansonPlace.com notes that the aerial photo of the model makes Miss Brooklyn seem smaller than the blog's namesake.

Note the PC Richards/Modells site now has a very large Metrotech-like building on it.

And for some reason, with the Bank Condos in the forefront and is that the Atlantic Center in the back? It looks larger than it really is. Perhaps FCRC is trying to engage in some not-to-scale hijinks?


Posted by lumi at 7:10 PM

Gehry Slam

Wanna hear what others are saying about the project, or just need to vent?

Head on over to Brooklynian.com, "How much uglier can it be?", where they are taking an online poll and soliticting your comments.


Brownstoner.com is hosting a Gehry Slam in their comments section of this afternoon's post that simply showed the launch pad photo and asked, "So waddya think?" Even supporters of the project are disappointed.

And when you're done, make sure to write Marty with your critique of Gehryland, USA.

Posted by lumi at 6:45 PM

Ratner n Gehry Add New Defense To Atlantic Yards Plan



Bruce Ranter and Frank Gehry this morning released new images of their intentions for Atlantic Yards, and it looks like they have added a new defense to fight off criticism:

It seems to be some sort of catapult! or just loosely tethered 2 x 4's designed to collapse on critic's heads? They need a frenchman up there!

link in the "general direction"

NoLandGrab: We should probably leave the French out of this. We already have them to thank for the design of Grand Army Plaza, the most perplexing traffic puzzle in NYC that is NOT being studied in the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Statement.

Posted by lumi at 6:22 PM

Frank Gehry Goes Plop in Brooklyn

The Gutter

But let us add this to the bitstream, overheard by a pal at the press conference: "They brought me a bunch of silver mesh one day and a couple of fake trees and I just went plop."


From Curbed Ratnerville Update: Frank Gehry's Latest Revealed

Kiss the hand of the 620-foot Miss/Ms. Brooklyn. Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein wins our quick-on-the-draw award, delivering the lacy Gehry goods above, just unveiled this morning.

Posted by lumi at 5:41 PM

Architect Frank Gehry Presents Designs For Atlantic Yards Project

ny1gehry.jpg NY1

Famed architect, Frank Gehry, says the borough inspires his vision for the area.

"We're trying to understand what is Brooklyn, what is the body language of Brooklyn and trying to emulate it without copying it,” said Gehry. “Copying it would trivialize it."


Posted by lumi at 5:33 PM

Ground Control to Major Tom, Gehryland is Outta this World

2006_05_atlanticyardsgehry.jpeg The lost brochure photos were found at this morning's press conference which was closed to the community and bloggers alike.

The word is that Gehry Studios is striving to "emulate" the "body language of Brooklyn," which according to Gehry's latest renderings must be a gigantic launch pad.

OK seriously, we love "fabulous" architecture as much as the next guy, but images released at today's press conferenece leave a lot of outstanding questions:

Would all this glass and steel withstand the NYPD terrorism and security scrutiny that drastically altered the Freedom Tower?

How is this project smaller than originally announced? Yeah, Forest City Ratner made the project bigger in between the initial project announcement and the Final Scope, but the press doesn't fall for that stuff, right?

Was Gehry's press conference supposed to deflect attention from the public ridicule of last week's brochure, or was last week's brochure sent out to deflect attention from the public ridicule of this week's press conference?

And what about: * eminent domain, * MTA land going to the lowest (not highest) bidder, * taxpayer financing of stadiums and arenas for multi-millionaire team owners, * increased traffic and pollution, * an impending urban planning disaster, * and the fact that this project may be approved by an un-elected board?

The weird thing about the press conference is that the entire bunch must be drinking the same kool-aid. Otherwise, why would Forest City Ratner and their PR batallion think that Brooklynites and the press would fall for a plan that is somewhat smaller than previously announced, but bigger than the initial rollout, just because Frank Gehry has now wraped the tall buildings in his signature skins and has decided to share his thoughts and feelings on Brooklyn.

The NYC cultural elite isn't spellbound by Frank Gehry anymore, the press is getting tired of being played by the Ratner PR machine, and Brooklynites are frustrated that Ratner and his pet pols do not seem to be listening.

Posted by lumi at 4:34 PM

May 3, 2006

Engineering a Safer, More Beautiful World, One Failure at a Time


The NY Times profiles engineer, Dr. Henry Petroski, the author of a sleeper hit, "The Pencil," a 400-page thriller on the importance of chronicling and understanding failure in engineering.

Dr. Petroski's latest book "Success Through Failure," chronicles inevitable unintended consequences:

Take Frank Gehry's design for the Walt Disney Concert Hall building in Los Angeles, which Dr. Petroski describes in his latest book, "Success Through Failure," published this year by Princeton University Press. According to Dr. Petroski, the high gloss of one side of the building reflected so much light at a condo across the street that residents suffered blinding glare and 15-degree temperature increases until the offending wall was resurfaced in a matte finish. This problem is the kind of "latent failure" that emerges only when a design is in use.


NoLandGrab: Dr. Petroski could have just as easily cited Gehry's project at Case Western Reserve University where titanium panels similar to the ones used in LA melted the snow that collected on the roof panels, thus creating avalanches of sliding snow and ice over the main entrance.

The impacts of REFLECTED LIGHT are NOT being studied in the Atlantic Yards Environmental Impact Review, according to the Final Scope. How Gehry's signature titanium surfaces would affect the adjacent neighborhoods in Brooklyn is anyone's guess.

Posted by lumi at 7:48 AM

Gehry on Film

The Real Estate Observer
By Michael Calderone

Sydney Pollack's first documentary, Sketches of Frank Gehry, was screened last night at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will be released in theaters on May 12.


Posted by lumi at 6:47 AM

April 26, 2006

The Edifice Complex: reflections on Ratner and Gehry

edificecomplex.gif Atlantic Yards Report

Power, money, art, ego — could these factors be the driving force behind Atlantic Yards?

Peering through the analytical lens of Deyan Sudjic, the architecture critic for London's Observer newspaper, and his book "The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful Shape the World," Norman Oder considers Atlantic Yards and the limits of criticism of Ratner and Gehry's 22-acre $3.4 billion 16-tower 8.6-million square foot mini-city.


Posted by lumi at 7:46 AM

April 25, 2006

Los Angeles With a Downtown? Gehry's Vision

NY Times
By Robin Pogrebin

Frank Gehry is working on his urban design chops in Los Angeles on a "$1.8 billion development plan by the Related Companies that will remake Grand Avenue as a pedestrian-based gathering point":

He said his goal was "to develop the beginning of a community that has the body language of a community and has the scale of a community."

The only problem for Brooklynites is that he still thinks Atlantic Yards is in Downtown Brooklyn:

In complexity, he said, the multiuse project resembles the proposed Atlantic Yards development he is designing for downtown Brooklyn, which includes a corridor of high-rise towers and a new arena for the Nets basketball team.


NoLandGrab: Just because Gehry doesn't know where Atlantic Yards is doesn't mean that the Times doesn't. Clearly Bruce Ratner is winning the PR battle when the paper of record repeatedly misplaces Atlantic Yards and locates the project where Ratner and Gehry want everyone to believe it is.

Posted by lumi at 8:17 AM

April 20, 2006

Gehry's Bad Skin Spreads at IAC HQ

GehryIAC.jpgYesterday was a bad skin day at Curbed.com, when the site considered the skin of New York City's first Frank Gehry building with a link to photoblogger Will Femia's shots of the frosted striped glass.

Posted by lumi at 6:36 AM

April 15, 2006

Frank Gehry: A Model for Every Arm

gehry-ratner.jpg Brought to our attention earlier this week by The Gutter:

This shot of Frank Gehry, the genius behind Miss Brooklyn, and Mr. Brooklyn himself, Bruce Ratner, draped by girls, girls, girls at the release party for the starchitect's new line at Tiffany & Co., proves that using the threat of eminent domain to overrun a couple of low-rise neighborhoods is real sexy.


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

April 11, 2006

Gehry interviewed by Ouroussoff: signage but not scale

Atlantic Yards Report

The NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff interviewed Atlantic Yards architect and self-professed "liberal do-gooder" Frank Gehry on Charlie Rose last night.

Atlantic Yards Reporter Norman Oder tuned in to hear the scoop on signage and the animated arena.

NoLandGrab: Does Gehry ever give an interview in which he doesn't claim to be a liberal do-gooder?

Posted by lumi at 9:34 AM

April 10, 2006

Gehry discusses inspirations

Yale Daily News
By Jerry Guo

During a talk at the School of Architecture on Friday, architect and visiting professor Frank Gehry said he has lately drawn great inspiration from the music world and has even discussed his shifting interests with hip-hop artist Jay-Z -- a co-owner of the Nets basketball team, for which Gehry has designed a new stadium in downtown Brooklyn.
Gehry said his background in urban planning influenced his design of the Nets arena, which is part of developer Bruce Ratner's controversial redesign of the Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab: Gehry must have studied urban planning during the hey-day of superblocks, because you can't spit on the Atlantic yards plan without hitting a tower in a park.

Posted by lumi at 7:47 AM

April 5, 2006

Frank Gehry: Fish, Torque, Orchid

Frank Gehry JewelryThe Frank Gehry Collection: Tiffany & Co.

Though his fluid buildings have wowed the world of architecture, when Frank Gehry interprets his signature forms and materials for the human body, the results are remarkably unoriginal.

This assesment is contradicted by the promotional materials:

The Gehry Collection is based on Gehry’s lifelong obsession with art. Just as he has built profoundly brilliant works of architecture set in a myriad of landscapes, so does he turn to the most intimate of all the arts, jewelry design, creating provocative new forms scaled perfectly to the body.*


Posted by lumi at 8:41 AM

Gehryland, USA

Metropolis via Business Week
By Christopher Hawthorne

The Metropolis article about how two of America's most prominent metropolitan centers are giving free rein to Frank Gehry is published online on BusinessWeek.com.

Brooklynites may want to give it another read, now that the Final Scope of Analysis for the Environmental Impact Statement has been released.

When Gehry shows the models for the Atlantic Yards to a community group or a reporter, there might come a moment when he imperceptibly readies his hand atop one of the residential towers, back by the intersection of Vanderbilt Avenue and Dean Street. Then just as he is saying that what he really wants to do is convince the client to make the design more modest in scale, he pulls that part of the model off with a dramatic flourish, magically providing light and air to the miniature Brooklynites walking on one of the model's interior paths. He holds that chunk of tower in his hand and says he's worried, he's concerned, if you ask him the whole thing ought to be smaller, it would just work better that way. And somewhere, as his handpicked architect gets to the end of this tremendously effective monologue, Ratner smiles.


Posted by lumi at 8:34 AM

March 28, 2006

The Gripe Against Gehry

Rogue's Gallery
"Rogue #4: The Sculptor"

"By definition, a building is a sculpture, because it is a three-dimensional object." — Frank Gehry

stairway.jpgPlace Performance takes sculptor-slash-starchitect Frank Gehry at his word and explains why his giant "attention getting," "whimsical," "wobbling," "kick-ass sculptures" are generally "not made to live in" because "the concentration is always on how the building looks instead of how it performs, or how it feels."

An example is Cleveland's great mistake:

Clevelanders were heartbroken to learn that their beautiful new five-story Peter B. Lewis Building with the complicated titanium roof at the business school at Case Western University is a nuisance and a menace. When the hot Cleveland sun is shining, the campus pedestrians are blinded by all that shiny metal - the CNN report says, "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."

And here during its first winter, they're finding out that this $62 million masterpiece dumps snow off its sloping surfaces and hangs dangerous-looking two-foot icicles off at least one roof edge.


Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

March 21, 2006

Gehryland, USA

Should one architect--even the world's most famous architect--be responsible for all of the buildings in two massive developments?

Metropolis, April, 2006
By Christopher Hawthorne
Posted March 20, 2006 (login required)

GehrylandIt is surely a sign of America's current state of philosophical eclecticism--or maybe just our deep confusion--that the architectural news in this country has been dominated in recent months by two contradictory developments: the success of the New Urbanists in helping shape the post-Katrina reconstruction and the stunning revival elsewhere of the megaproject.

Since the floodwaters receded, Andrés Duany, Peter Calthorpe, and others have been charretting much of the Gulf Coast into submission, preaching the gospel of walkable neighborhoods and transit-oriented development (and front porches). The more fascinating story, frankly, is taking shape on the other side of the cultural divide, in the territory where Robert Moses and Le Corbusier once tread. In each of the two biggest cities in the country, Frank Gehry has been handed a commission whose size and scope would lead both of those men to sit up and take notice.

In Los Angeles it is the entire first phase of the $1.8 billion redevelopment along Grand Avenue for the New York-based Related Companies, replacing a bunch of--what else?-- parking lots across the street from Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall. In Brooklyn it is a $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project for developer Bruce Ratner's Forest City Ratner Companies, which will include not just the 18,000-seat arena for the NBA's Nets but also more than a dozen different buildings, the tallest of which tops out at about 60 stories. Both projects will be helped along by a substantial public subsidy.

More than four decades after the revelatory appearance of Jane Jacobs's The Death and Life of Great American Cities, two of the greatest have charged ahead with a gargantuan building effort, thick with skyscrapers designed by a single architect. You might think of them as outposts of a new theme-park approach to architecture and development: Gehryland Brooklyn and Gehryland L.A.


Posted by lumi at 7:11 AM

February 22, 2006

Mr. Eisner Builds Dream TV Backdrop

Frank Gehry Wall Street Journal Frank Gehry Designs a Set For the Disney Ex-Chief; Warming the Titanium

The Wall Street Journal
February 11, 2006; Page A1
By Joe Hagan

Ex-Disney CEO Michael Eisner asked Architect Frank Gehry to design the set of his new CNBC talk show.

The day after Christmas, before the CNBC show was even announced, Mr. Eisner phoned Mr. Gehry. "I said to him, 'What would you do?' " recalls Mr. Eisner.

"He immediately said: 'Titanium.'"


Posted by lumi at 8:06 AM

January 17, 2006

The Role of the Architect

architects.jpgBrooklyn Views examines the role of the architect, explains why Brooklyn is better off with a "starchitect," and why Gehry needs to get it right.

Let’s tackle the difficult question: what do we think about Frank Gehry doing this project in our neighborhood? Our typical answer: Gehry is known to be a great architect, but there are real problems with this project.
Well-known architects can pick and choose commissions, and if a client proposes a direction that is not of interest, they can always decline to participate. Lesser known architects work at the behest of the client, knowing that satisfied clients will give them more work. A star architect plays to a different audience: his place in history. It behooves him to do the right thing, or to not do it at all.


Posted by lumi at 8:10 AM

January 15, 2006

Gehry in New York

Bird to the North sparks an interesting discussion about Frank Gehry's New York Times TimesTalk appearance:

Architects do design for large contexts - their designs don't end at the building edges - so it is worthwhile to really understand the urban context, especially for those who profess to be "do-gooder, lefty types." I have always felt that Gehry just didn't get what he was doing to Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards neighborhood, either by not asking enough questions from the people he's working with, or by simply not having the experience of asking. This talk corroborates my impression. Or perhaps it's more simple: ignorance is bliss.

I'm looking for a more pro-Gehry account of the talk, but nothing has shown up yet. Let me know if you see one!


Posted by amy at 10:56 AM

Life Getting Hot For Architect Rafael Viñoly

New York Observer:

But it is the Kimmel case, first reported by the Associated Press on Nov. 27 last year and later splashed on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer, that is proving to be the 62-year-old architect’s biggest headache. The managers of the Kimmel Center, the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra, blame Mr. Viñoly’s firm for going $23 million over budget in the center’s construction.

The case sheds light on an issue that has dogged architecture firms that attempt massive and politically difficult urban projects, while at the same time attempting to deliver state-of-the-art design.

Witness Mr. Libeskind’s increasing marginalization at Ground Zero, or the recent shouting match from which architect Frank Gehry absented himself over the weekend over his plans for the Atlantic Yards terminal.


TimesRatnerReport points to two apocryphal phrases in one sentence.

Posted by amy at 10:38 AM

January 12, 2006

Gehry Grilled Over Atlantic Yards

Daily Heights Forum started a discussion with The Real Estate Observer post on Gehry's appearance at the NY Times's Arts & Leisure Weekend.

Talk honed in on Gehry's claim to the "liberal do-gooder" title, with some commentary on style:

Gehry assumes responsibility for forcing 864 residents from their homes. Some "lefty do-gooder". — Flute

His buildings are POMO craptaculars at their best. — metulj

I can't help but believe [Gehry] is being ENTIRELY disengenuous. — qtrain

They're exactly the type of lefties that give The Left a bad name. — bklyngrl

Pete_c believes the railyard should be developed, but finds the Gehry/Ratner plan unworkable and suggests that people email the master designer himself.

as long as you lot promise to behave, present civilized arguments and hard facts, and not go off into long flaming rants, tell him what you think: fog AT foga.com.


Posted by lumi at 7:59 AM

Gehry in Chelsea Update: 'Without a Compass'

Curbed.com, offers this description of Gehry's IAC project for Barry Diller, from the The Wall St. Journal, as their "daily dose of starchitecture bullshit:"

The geometric façade has eight skyward arcs of glass that will mimic wind-whipped sails of boats making their way along the Hudson River, just across the West Side Highway. Besides reflecting both men's love of sailing, the design of the building in the West Chelsea neighborhood incorporates Mr. Diller's admission that IAC is forming itself without a compass for guidance. "We're making it up as we go along in the interactive [commerce] area, and because of the nature of interactive revenue, there are few rules," Mr. Diller says.

Nice narrative, though somewhat familiar.


Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

January 9, 2006

Gehry Grilled in Manhattan

The Real Estate Observer

GehryREO.jpgMichael Calderone reports on NY Times architecture critic Nicholai Ouroussoff's conversation with Frank Gehry "before a sold-out audience at the CUNY Graduate Center, part of the newspaper’s Arts & Leisure Weekend."

A self-professed “do-gooder, lefty type,” Mr. Gehry spoke of the future Nets arena and, and shockingly blurted out, “First of all, it’s an empty site.” A handful of jeers followed. Admitting he was getting into “deep shit,” Mr. Gehry switched gears and said that the project will be built in an “existing neighborhood.”


NoLandGrab: Did Brooklynites play the spoiler during polite discussion with the master designer? Or, as a last resort are Brooklynites forced to getting their point across in public forums?

If you missed it, there's more coverage of the same event by TimesRatnerReport.

Posted by lumi at 9:24 AM

January 8, 2006

Gehry, in Manhattan, hit with Atlantic Yards questions: “I didn’t expect this to be a thing about Brooklyn"


TimesRatnerReport details Gehry's appearance at the Times Talk segment of the New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend:

During the session, Gehry had said of his projects, "If I think it got out of whack with my own principles, I’d walk away." Patti Hagan of the Prospect Heights Action Coalition, wearing a "Welcome to Ratnerville" t-shirt and a sticker saying "Eminent Domain Abuse," picked up on that.She asked, "Have any of your previous projects involved the use of eminent domain or eminent domain abuse? Does that square with your principles and would that be enough to make you walk away from the Ratner project?"

"No comment," Gehry responded, to applause, though not as much as he received previously. (Gehry fans had to perform a quick calculation: it’s one thing to admire the architect, but another to endorse eminent domain.)


Posted by amy at 10:53 AM

January 4, 2006

"Struggling" Gehry on "out of scale" project: "If it turns out great, that's what's right"

TimesRatnerReport covers Frank Gehry's Columbia University interview:


Gehry, who described himself as "a do-gooder, liberal," said he was trying to design the project "within a very open dialogue with the people who are involved," but acknowledged that success on the project was subjective: "What’s right is, if it turns out great, that’s what’s right." Indeed, though Gehry comes off as an earnest, well-meaning fellow, it's apparently not his role to be worried about a planning process that urban affairs expert Tom Angotti calls "all backwards."


Posted by lumi at 7:07 AM

December 29, 2005

Acclaimed Architect Frank Gehry Discusses Current Project in Brooklyn

Columbia News

GehryAtColumbia.jpgFrank Gehry, perhaps the world's most acclaimed architect, discusses some of his current projects, including a planned residential community in Brooklyn adjoining a new arena for the Nets basketball team, as well as the effects Hurricane Katrina had on an unfinished museum he was designing in Biloxi, Miss. Gehry was a guest on Kelvin Sealey's "Citizen: The Campus Talk Show" on Oct. 31.

link (interview length: 59:59)

Posted by lumi at 8:16 AM

"Unfamiliar territory": Times critic Ouroussoff on Gehry, Ratner, and the challenge in Brooklyn

TimesRatnerReport tuned in last night for The NY Times architecture critic Nicolai Ourousoff's appearance on The Charlie Rose Show.

Talk turned to Frank Gehry and the fourth-largest city in the US, Brooklyn, to reveal the question that seems to be on everyone's mind:

ourousoff.jpgOUROUSOFF: The question is, for me, is he going to be able to deal with the things that traditionally developers might not let him play with. For example, the social organizations of the apartments inside. The relationship of the project to the context around it, in terms of the ground plan. I think Frank comes out of a tradition, in terms of urban planning, that in a lot of ways is very conservative. He's never built on this scale before. And I think he's now getting into a kind of unfamiliar territory, in terms of the scale he's working with.

TimesRatnerReporter ponders the question by examining other sources, including a Gehry interview at Columbia University.


Posted by lumi at 7:57 AM

December 15, 2005

Leaders Who Build to Stroke Their Egos

NY Times Book Review,
"The Edifice Complex," by Deyan Sudjic
Review by Michiko Katani

Mr. Sudjic, the architecture critic for the London newspaper The Observer, looks at the architectural dreams of the great monsters of 20th-century history - Hitler, Stalin and Mao - and at the more modest fantasies of assorted tycoons and democratically elected politicians.
In addition, Mr. Sudjic provides some brisk assessments of such high-profile architects as Philip Johnson, Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind. And he examines the propensity of many prominent architects to hire themselves out to unsavory - and in some cases, morally reprehensible - clients.

Click here to read the complete review.

NoLandGrab: "Edifice Complex" makes a nice holiday gift for those facing life in the shadow of Miss Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:18 AM

December 6, 2005

Gehry and Atlantic Yards: A Work in Progress

by Linda G. Miller

patti&gehry.jpgA brief report on the Gehry/Olin/Stuckey meeting in the American Institute of Architects online newsletter:

"This is one of the toughest projects I've confronted in my entire life," said Frank Gehry, FAIA, referring to Forest City Ratner Companies' (FCRC) Atlantic Yards project at a standing-room-only presentation at the Center for Architecture on November 22. Gehry, James Stuckey, FCRC Executive Vice President for Community and Residential Development, and landscape architect Laurie Olin, FASLA, proudly debuted the latest rendition for the redevelopment of the blighted Atlantic Yards and adjacent properties in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. Gehry made it clear that the project continues to be a work in progress.


NoLandGrab: The article states that Gehry and the developer have had more than 80 meetings with community members. The community members who showed up to hear Frank Gehry were not from the groups with which the developer has regularly met. That's why the poor souls have to schlep to every open public meeting.

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

December 1, 2005

New York Magazine, Letters to the Editor

New York Magazine published two letters in reponse to Kurt Andersen's worshipful essay on Frank Gehry and the architect's design of a "sui generis Brooklyn skyline."

One of the letter writers posted the published versions of the letters in the Daily Heights Forum in a discussion about the Andersen article and the Gehry effect.

The usually astute Kurt Andersen was woefully off target regarding the enormous Bruce Ratner development in Brooklyn [“The Imperial City: Delirious New York,” November 28]. It’s horribly out of scale with the character of Brooklyn (we’ve long since ceased to view Manhattan as an urban role model), and it will destroy the continuity of three thriving neighborhoods, absorb hundreds of millions of tax dollars with little or no real return, and give Downtown Brooklyn permanent traffic gridlock. Given the truly awful aesthetics and construction quality of his other developments in Brooklyn, Ratner had little choice but to attach the Frank Gehry carrot. Anyone who chases that carrot must also still be looking forward to Daniel Libeskind’s World Trade Center.
Michael Rogers, Brooklyn

Like Bruce Ratner’s previous developments in Brooklyn, the Atlantic Yards stadium complex is not going to seamlessly merge a new development with an existing and vital cityscape. It seems totally appropriate, then, that Bruce Ratner would choose an architect whose buildings are rootless, equally out of place wherever they are erected, always supplanting on-the-ground urban realities with whimsical promises of a future that never quite arrives. Does Brooklyn need Gehry’s spectacular, megalomaniacal brand?
Stuart Schrader, Brooklyn

Posted by lumi at 7:21 AM

Ratner Roundup

Dope on the Slope talks turkey about Bruce's Brooklyn boondoggle. Topics covered are: "Pocket Stuffing," "Gehry's Goose Cooked?" and "Chestnuts Goading Me to Open Ire."

Gehry lost me when he failed to hold any public input forums or charettes before he pulled out his popsicle sticks and aluminum foil. Gehry should have insisted on such input as a condition of employment with Ratner. The fact that he didn't makes him unfit for the project in my view. Either he didn't recognize the difference in designing a single building and defining a neighborhood, or he wasn't willing to stand up for what he knew to be the right thing to do.


Posted by lumi at 6:31 AM

November 29, 2005

The Stoop

Brooklyn Views

stoops.jpgThe scoop on the stoops — Brooklyn Views architectural blogger makes a brief point about Gehry's idea to riff on Brooklyn's real architectural icon, the street stoop, and the importance of the street as a "cultural resource."


NoLandGrab: BV's point reminds us that stoops were originally designed to keep entrances well above the dirty horse manure-filled streets of New York.

The elegant stoop design and its rhythmic repetition had a practical purpose. In contrast, Gehry's idea is artifice.

Posted by lumi at 6:37 AM

November 27, 2005

Forest City Ratner day in the NY Times regional editorial sections

The NY Times

Two Ratner projects were covered in the corresponding regional editorial sections of the Sunday Times.

Atlantic Yards
The City
A Matter of Scale in Brooklyn
The NY Times editorial board still holds that the project should go forward, but not before laying out many of the problems: traffic congestion, expansion of the project, fewer jobs, less affordable housing, modest returns, and public subsidies.

Ridge Hill
The Shame of Palookaville

You could have cast a half-dozen Frank Capra movies from the roomful of regular folks - moms and pops, tweedy types, old ladies in wool coats, a lawyer or two - who stepped up to deplore an impending vote to rewrite city zoning law to help a rich developer. Their words were hot but their demeanors cool. They spoke civilly and played by the rules, something the Council majority assuredly did not do on that chilly, depressing, inspiring night.

The Times's Westchester editorial lauds the Yonkers citizens who showed up at a meeting of their City Council, intent on saving democracy. Brooklynites, however, can note that the same paper's Atlantic Yards editorial left out one key point from its litany of concerns with the project: the subversion of the local city planning process.

The NY Times loves democracy; maybe it can look into getting some more of it in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 5:55 PM

November 24, 2005

Gehry: My design was ‘horrible’

Architect tinkers to reduce impact of Atlantic Yards
The Brooklyn Papers
by Ariella Cohen

More coverage of Gehry's presentation this past Tuesday night:

Even world-renowned architect Frank Gehry thinks his design for the Atlantic Yards project — a scheme so massive that even its supporters grumbled after it was unveiled in July — was “horrible.”


NoLandGrab: To be fair, it is NLG's recollection that Gehry stated that the presentation of the design "sketches" in The NY Times was "horrible." The starchitect cautioned several times during the presentation that the renderings and photos of models were still a work in progress.

Toward the end of the article, the reporter, Ariella Cohen, appears to have misinterpreted the point made by Prospect Heights resident Peter Krashes.

During his presentation, Gehry pointed to the general location of Krashes's house, the Dean St. block facing the eastern portion of the project, and said, "I don't know what's there." Krashes lives ACROSS the street from the project, not IN the footprint as Cohen suggests, and Gehry seemed to have a good idea as to what is facing Krashes's home in the current design.

During the Q&A, Krashes told Gehry that his house was located in the area referenced earlier, illustrating the point that Gehry doesn't understand the project's context in relationship to Prospect Heights. Krashes also reiterated the criticism echoed by others, that "the project exists only in relation to itself."

Cohen also got the "commercial and office space" figure wrong. The current estimate, if one includes the proposed hotel, stands at slightly less than a million square feet, not "nearly 2 million."

Posted by lumi at 8:26 AM

November 23, 2005

Nets plan flushed out

The Daily News
by Paul Colford

Coverage of Frank Gehry, Laurie Olin and Jim Stuckey's 2 1/2-hour presentation and discussion yesterday at the American Institute of Architects:

How does a wildflower meadow and boardwalk on the roof of the new Nets arena strike your fancy?

What do you say to an entryway with stoop-like seating and a new marsh to handle storm water runoff?

[Gehry] showed how giant images might be projected on the floor, as well as the ceiling. "The idea is to make so much stuff happen that it feels full all the time," he said.

In one whimsical touch, he illustrated how the street surfaces outside the arena might be striped with the Nets' team colors - now red, white and blue.


NoLandGrab: There were literally hundreds of ideas presented yesterday, which is probably why Colford confused the "boat" design of the arena that is a "bowl" with the "bow tie" shape of the intersection.

Posted by lumi at 7:37 AM

The Imperial City. Delirious New York.

Our long architectural snooze is over, thanks to neomodernist mania and the arrival—finally—of Gehry. Brooklyn should embrace him.

New York Magazine
by Kurt Andersen


Kurt Andersen on the Ratner-Gehry vision of a city within a city in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn:

Bruce Ratner of Forest City is the developer, as he is of Piano’s Times building and of what will be a whole new Brooklyn downtown between Atlantic and Flatbush—a Nets arena plus a residential quarter as large as Rockefeller Center with sixteen buildings, all by Gehry. Freddy Ferrer called it “the twin brother of Bloomberg’s West Side stadium boondoggle,” but that’s wrong. The arena is the anchor of a thoroughly imagined project by an actual developer; basketball seasons have 41 home games instead of 8, thus generating more street life; and the architecture will be the work of a single-minded genius, not a big corporate firm. Simply because enormous redevelopment projects are often or even usually misguided (Robert Moses’s Lower Manhattan Expressway, the Jets’ stadium, Freedom Tower) doesn’t mean we ought to oppose them by default. Westway, for instance, should have been built, and so, probably, should Gehry’s Atlantic Yards.

The skewed, cartoony angles of the buildings, which range from 20 to 60 stories, would in one fell swoop create a second, sui generis Brooklyn skyline encompassing the familiar, phallic old Williamsburgh Bank Building. Gehry’s goal is for it to “look like it developed over time. Usually I would bring in other architects to make it look like a city, not like a development.” But many hands at the drawing table (or the CAD screen) is no guarantee of urban quality either: At Battery Park City the result has been, as Ratner says, “a mishmash of architecture.”


NoLandGrab: Andersen's take on the Ratner-Gehry vision, jutting out into low-rise residential Brooklyn, reveals his belief that the financial and architectural complexities of the project will work out and that any leftover problems would still be fair trade off, despite the fact that many Brooklynites have invested their lives in their neighborhoods, only to serve as place holders until New York became "a city of glamorous cutting-edge architecture."

Posted by lumi at 7:14 AM

November 22, 2005

Gehry and Stuckey SELL OUT Brooklyn!

TONIGHT'S event with Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry and Forest City Ratner VP Jim Stuckey is oversold.

Only those ALREADY on the rsvp list will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
(between West 3rd St. and Bleecker)

Member Price: $10
Nonmember Price: $15, $10 students

Posted by lumi at 7:39 AM

Frank Gehry's Downtown Tower: 'Conservative, Radical'

Curbed.com notes that Kurt Andersen's sneak preview of the Gehry-Ratner Beekman St. project declares that the downtown skyscraper complex is "conservative... but for Manhattan, it's radical."


NoLandGrab: This is the project that includes a public school long lobbied for by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who will have a deciding vote in whether or not the Atlantic Yards Project gets built. At an estimated price tag of $650/square foot, this public school will be the most expensive ever built in NYC.

Posted by lumi at 6:29 AM

November 19, 2005

Ratner to Gehry: Try again

The Brooklyn Papers

Bruce Ratner has reportedly sent his world-renowned architect Frank Gehry back to the drawing board to revise the developer’s 24-acre arena-and-skyscraper project at the Atlantic Yards.

And Gehry has just two weeks to come up with a new scheme, according to a report in Crain’s New York Business this week.


NoLandGrab: The new reporter at The Brooklyn Papers, Ariella Cohen got some facts "bemuddled" towards the end of the article. Cohen first states that, "The mayor pledged that no city money would be needed to fund the project directly," and then cites "$200 million" of "direct allocation" of public funding a few paragraphs later.

Also, it is incorrect to compare the $200 million of public funding for the $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project as being far less public money than the $1 billion planned for the aborted West Side Stadium with its $2.2 billion price tag. The cash contribution for the West Side Stadium was $600 million and the total public subsidy for Atlantic Yards, which is not just an arena, is currently estimated to be over $1 billion.

Sorry to criticize, we know that it's not easy being green.

Posted by lumi at 2:02 PM

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 7:27 AM

October 21, 2005

Tiffany Taps New Designer: Frank Gehry to Create Jewelry Collection for Tiffany & Co.

gehrycup.jpgFrank Gehry, coming to a neck near you:

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 21, 2005--Tiffany & Co. (NYSE - TIF) today announced a new partnership with internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, who will create an exclusive jewelry collection in collaboration with Tiffany to be introduced in April 2006. With this historic agreement, Gehry becomes the jeweler's newest designer to bring a bold and original dynamic to the worlds of fashion and design.


"Sculptors and painters have inspired me with their ability to make things with their own hands. This process led to the discovery of new ways to give feeling and spirit to form, and realize our shared vision of jewelry that provides a beautiful context for living now."

press release

NoLandGrab: OK, this doesn't have much to do with Brooklyn, but it contains a cautionary tale.

Gehry's emphasis on "form" is the chief complaint about his work. His projects cast aside centuries of common sense and have little consideration of people and their environment. Who else would create buildings that raise temperatures in LA, spark dangerous avalanches in Ohio, never mind the acres of uninviting, even dangerous, Gehry open spaces across the world (i.e. Bilbao, Cambridge, Seattle).

Should the environmental impacts of Frank Gehry be considered in the evaluation of the Atlantic Yards project? Tell us what you think. Email: scarygehry@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 8:56 AM

October 11, 2005

Gehry Partners, LLP Gets New, Foxy Partner


gehry-pitt.jpg"New Brooklyn master builder"(?) Frank Gehry is pallin' around with sidekick, Hollywood hunk and Gehry devotee Brad Pitt.

Here the paduan learner is demonstrating his skill with the glue gun for Master Gehry-Wan Kenobi.


NoLandGrab: Yup, we're getting stupid here, but a ridiculous blog posting deserves a dumb comment.

Posted by lumi at 9:07 PM

August 10, 2005

Gehry's Brooklyn plan bigger than first thought

Architectural Record
by Ilan Kayatsky

In the excitment surrounding developer Bruce Ratnerr's proposed Nets Arena in downtown Brooklyn, less attention was paid to the scheme's other, much more expansive elements.


NoLandGrab: Look who just caught on! Folks here in BROOKLYN have been paying attention to the "expansive elements" of Ratner and Gehry's plan all along.

Posted by lumi at 8:28 AM

Gehry will contribute to L.A.'s Grand Avenue project

Architectural Record
by J.T. Long

grandave.jpg Gehry "gets it" in LA.

Speaking about Frank Gehry's tower in LA's Grand Avenue housing, retail and cultural complex proposal, President of Related Companies Bill Witte said: "[Gehry] was sensitive to the placement and fit of the building, so it doesn't overwhelm Disney Hall and fits along the busy civic street."


NoLandGrab: Brooklynites wouldn't mind if Gehry was "sensitive to the placement and fit" of the buildings "so that it doesn't overwhelm" their neighborhoods and "fits along" the busiest intersection in Brooklyn.

Posted by lumi at 7:52 AM

July 31, 2005

Gehry ushers in new brand of 'starchitects'


From the LA Times via Houston Chronicle:

While some directors given carte blanche from big studios are invigorated by the responsibility, others find it overwhelming or lose their creative focus. The same is true in architecture. And Gehry has tended to do his best work when he is constrained — by tight budgets, political squabbles or awkward sites — and his most disappointing when he is fully autonomous. That alone is a reason for a measure of wariness about this pair of projects, in which the developers have taken pains to smooth the architect's path.


Posted by amy at 10:35 AM

July 22, 2005

Architects Live In Class Houses: Piano Vs. Gehry

Renzo Gets Times Tower, Columbia, Morgan Library; Mr. Bilbao in Brooklyn

The NY Observer
by Jason Horowitz

Hooray for Frank GehryThe Observer article about starchitects Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry coming to a neighborhood near you is interesting, but gets some key facts wrong about Gehry's progress in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn.

Mr. Gehry still has to face community boards and landmark committees for Mr. Ratner’s $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project, with its Brooklyn Nets basketball stadium, 1.9 million square feet of office space, housing for roughly 15,000, and skyscrapers as high as 60 stories piercing the now-unperturbed Brooklyn skyline. Mr. Gehry said that, along with the tempting challenge of the undertaking, he was attracted to the idea of working for Mr. Ratner, who he called a like-minded “liberal do-gooder” intent on making a statement in Brooklyn.


NoLandGrab, "EARTH TO THE MEDIA:" Gehry's project has been taken over by New York State, there will be NO Community Board or Landmark hearings. NY State's hearings and Environmental Impact Statement only require that negative impacts be IDENTIFIED, NOT MITIGATED. Sorry to be so negative, but this stuff is serious.

EARTH TO GEHRY: Brooklynites are wary of the "like-minded 'liberal do-gooders,'" as they often become masters of unintended consequences (i.e. Robert Moses).

Posted by lumi at 8:15 AM

Starring Frank Gehry

By taking leading roles in billion-dollar projects in L.A. and New York, he has helped usher in the era of 'starchitects.'

LA Times
by Christopher Hawthorne

Gehry has been named lead architect on a massive project in each of America's two largest cities: one along Grand Avenue in downtown Los Angeles, for the developer Related Cos., and the other atop the Atlantic Rail Yards in Brooklyn, with Forest City Ratner.

The combined budget of the projects tops $5 billion. Together, they suggest that we've entered an era in which ambitious developers are not just open to the notion of working with architecture's boldest talents but, in certain high-profile cases, are desperate to avoid working without them.

While some directors given carte blanche from big studios are invigorated by the responsibility, others find it overwhelming or lose their creative focus. The same is true in architecture. And Gehry has tended to do his best work when he is constrained — by tight budgets, political squabbles or awkward sites — and his most disappointing when he is fully autonomous. That alone is a reason for a measure of wariness about this pair of projects, in which the developers have taken pains to smooth the architect's path.


Posted by lumi at 8:08 AM

July 20, 2005

Pitt to Film Gehry Documentary


Brad Pitt, a longtime fan of architect Frank Gehry, will be filming a documentary "recording the progress of Gehry's $450 million project on the historic King Alfred site in Hove, England."


NoLandGrab: For high drama and big bucks, the $450 million King Alfred project is small potatoes compared to the $3.5 BILLION Gehry Yards.

Posted by lumi at 6:22 AM

July 16, 2005

Revised Atlantic Yards Plan Offers a Dramatic Vision for Brooklyn


Architectural Record:

The project’s developers were quick to respond to the complaints of several local groups, who bemoaned the project’s disruptive effect on their neighborhood. “This country’s growing, this city’s growing,” noted Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) Executive Vice-President Jim Stuckey. “If all you do is replace in kind, you’re a net loser.”

article On the other hand, if you propose to destroy a neighborhood with overwhelming and publicly despised development plans, you won't be allowed to develop AT ALL [see failed West Side Stadium plans] and then I believe you're a NETS LOSER!

Posted by amy at 11:00 AM

July 12, 2005

Revitalizing Cities

The NY Times
Letter to the Editor
Nathan Glazer, professor emeritus of sociology at Harvard University

In response to N. Ouroussoff's appraisal of Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards plan (NY Times, July 5, 2005, "Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn"):

The towers are not improved by the architect Frank Gehry's outlandish notion of slanting them so they look as if they are ready to tip over, which I assume is what attracts Mr. Ouroussoff. Ms. Jacobs was attacking "catastrophic" development, the erasing of history and complexity by master conceptions, the obliteration of the multifarious city at one blow by a massive single use.

The situation is only made worse by the necessity to take private property by eminent domain, while getting state and city subsidies, too.


Posted by lumi at 6:27 AM

July 8, 2005

Homage or insult?


Posted by amy at 10:55 PM

July 6, 2005

Scary Gehry: Haiku

A haiku of excepts from N. Ouroussoff's Times piece on Gehry's new design:

reinvent Brooklyn
clashing, undulating forms
get out of the way

Please send any original haiku submissions on Gehry's new design to haiku@nolandgrab.org.

Posted by lumi at 9:43 AM

"A Delirious Pile-up of Forms"

Dope on the Slope delivers a scathing "appraisal" of "professional sycophant and architectural creationist" Nicky O's homage to Gehry's Atlantic Yards design in The Times.


Posted by lumi at 6:13 AM

July 5, 2005

Gehry's Insta-Skyline: The Insta-Reviews

gehrymodel-04.jpgCurbed.com compiled reviews of the Times piece where Nicolai Ouroussoff gets all wet for Gehry's latest designs for Brooklyn.

Also check out Curbed's own entry as they stoke Brooklynite's inferiority complex in "Forget Manhattan, Brooklyn is the New Texas."

Posted by lumi at 7:35 PM

Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn

The NY Times
by Nicolai Ouroussoff

scary gehryThis "appraisal" of Gehry's latest Atlantic Yards design will make area residents uncomfortable by its pompous tone -- you know, the tone of architects use when they talk about people as if they weren't really there. In his non-critical piece, Ouroussoff concludes:

Mr. Gehry's intuitive approach to planning - his ability to pick up subtle cues from the existing context - virtually guarantees that the development will be better than what New Yorkers are used to.

Ouroussoff's description of the Nets arena could also describe the sentiments of residents surronding the project:

[A] slight arch in the rows of seats on either side of the court adds to the impression that the entire room is being squeezed and is buckling under invisible pressure.

Brooklynites sitting in traffic on Flatbush Ave. will be able to contemplate a signature Gehry expression:

A cascading glass roof would envelop a vast public room at the tower's base, so that as you arrived by car along Flatbush Avenue, your eye would travel up a delirious pileup of forms, which become a visual counterpoint to the horizontal thrust of the avenue.

And, if life in NYC isn't already fraught with tension (which is why many residents seek the comfort of Brooklyn's familiar neighborhoods), Gehry's free-jazz-meets-Kenny-G architechture is seeking to reinvent how we live, work, and play:

The idea is to create a skyline that is fraught with visual tension, where the spaces between the towers are as charged as the forms themselves. That tension, Mr. Gehry hopes, will carry down to the ground, imbuing the gardens with a distinct urban character. In this way, he is also seeking to break down and reassemble conventional social orthodoxies. [Note: We are not sure it is prudent to "reassemble conventional social orthodoxies" during a Republican administration.]

NoLandGrab: If you didn't have the right glasses to major in architecture, where students pontificate about tall buildings that "echo" and "talk" to one another, read the rest of the article for a real taste of what you missed.

Oh, and The Grey Lady DID include a disclosure of their business partnership with Forest City Ratner this time (not that we're counting).

Article after the jump...

Frank Gehry's new design for a 21-acre corridor of high-rise towers anchored by the 19,000-seat Nets arena in Brooklyn may be the most important urban development plan proposed in New York City in decades. If it is approved, it will radically alter the Brooklyn skyline, reaffirming the borough's emergence as a legitimate cultural rival to Manhattan.

More significant, however, Mr. Gehry's towering composition of clashing, undulating forms is an intriguing attempt to overturn a half-century's worth of failed urban planning ideas. What is unfolding is an urban model of remarkable richness and texture, one that could begin to inject energy into the bloodless formulas that are slowly draining our cities of their vitality. It is a stark contrast to the proposed development of the West Side of Manhattan, where the abandoned Jets stadium was only the most visible aspect of what seemed doomed to become another urban wasteland.

From the dehumanizing Modernist superblocks of the 1960's to the cloying artificiality of postmodern visions like Battery Park City, architects have labored to come up with a formula for large-scale housing development that is not cold, sterile and lifeless. Mostly, they have failed.

Mr. Gehry, for his part, has never worked on such a colossal scale. And the construction of an arena, in particular, is more apt to create a black hole in a city's fabric than to ignite a major urban revival.

Mr. Gehry begins by reinventing the arena. To minimize the deadening effect of the obligatory rings of corporate seats, Mr. Gehry partly hides them under a cantilevered portion of the arena's upper tier. And a slight arch in the rows of seats on either side of the court adds to the impression that the entire room is being squeezed and is buckling under invisible pressure.

Such touches reaffirm that Mr. Gehry, at 76, is an architect with a remarkably subtle hand. Yet what makes the design an original achievement is the cleverness with which he anchors the arena in the surrounding neighborhood. Located on a triangular lot at the intersection of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues, the arena's form is buried inside a cluster of soaring commercial and residential towers. At certain points the towers part to reveal the arena's bulging facade behind them. Pedestrians would be able to peer directly into the main concourse level, creating a surprising fishbowl effect.

The tallest of the towers, roughly 60 stories, would echo the more somber Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, now the borough's highest building. A cascading glass roof would envelop a vast public room at the tower's base, so that as you arrived by car along Flatbush Avenue, your eye would travel up a delirious pileup of forms, which become a visual counterpoint to the horizontal thrust of the avenue.

The striking collision of urban forms is a well-worn Gehry theme, and it ripples through the entire complex. Extending east from the arena, the bulk of the residential buildings are organized in two uneven rows that frame a long internal courtyard. The buildings are broken down into smaller components, like building blocks stacked on top of one another. The blocks are then carefully arranged in response to various site conditions, pulling apart in places to frame passageways through the site; elsewhere, they are used to frame a series of more private gardens.

Mr. Gehry is still fiddling with these forms. His earliest sketches have a palpable tension, as if he were ripping open the city to release its hidden energy. The towers in a more recent model seem clunkier and more brooding. This past weekend, a group of three undulating glass towers suddenly appeared. Anchored by lower brick buildings on both sides, they resemble great big billowing clouds.

Anyone who has followed Mr. Gehry's thought process understands this back-and-forth. It is his struggle to gain an intuitive feel for the site, to find the ideal compositional balance between the forms. The idea is to create a skyline that is fraught with visual tension, where the spaces between the towers are as charged as the forms themselves. That tension, Mr. Gehry hopes, will carry down to the ground, imbuing the gardens with a distinct urban character. In this way, he is also seeking to break down and reassemble conventional social orthodoxies.

There are those - especially acolytes of the urbanist Jane Jacobs - who will complain about the development's humongous size. But cities attain their beauty from their mix of scales; one could see the development's thrusting forms as a representation of Brooklyn's cultural flowering.

What is more, Mr. Gehry has gone to great lengths to fuse his design with its surroundings. The tallest of the towers, for example, are mostly set along Atlantic Avenue, where they face a mix of retail malls and low-income housing. Along Dean Street, the buildings' low, stocky forms are more in keeping with the rows of brownstones that extend south into Park Slope.

A more important issue, by contrast, is the site's current lack of permeability. Because the development would be built on top of the Atlantic Avenue railyards, the gardens are several feet above ground level, an arrangement that threatens to isolate them from the street grid. In the current version of the plan, shallow steps would lead up to the gardens from the sidewalk. Olin Partnership, the landscape architect, has suggested that the same effect could be accomplished with a more gradual slope - a significant improvement - but the key will be to create a balance in which the gardens feel like a smooth extension of the public realm.

Even so, Mr. Gehry's intuitive approach to planning - his ability to pick up subtle cues from the existing context - virtually guarantees that the development will be better than what New Yorkers are used to. The last project here that was touted as a breakthrough in urban planning was Battery Park City. As it turns out, it was as isolated from urban reality as its Modernist predecessors. Conceived by a cadre of government bureaucrats and planners, it produced a suburban vision of deadening uniformity.

By comparison, Forest City Ratner Companies, a relatively conventional developer known for building Brooklyn's unremarkable MetroTech complex, has seemingly undergone an architectural conversion, entrusting a 7.8-million-square-foot project to a single architectural talent who is known for creating unorthodox designs. It seems like a gutsy decision. But Bruce C. Ratner, the company's chief executive and the development partner of The New York Times in building the newspaper's new headquarters in Manhattan, has apparently realized that the tired old models are no longer a guarantee of cultural or financial success. He seems willing, within limits, to allow Mr. Gehry the freedom to play with new ideas.

This is no small miracle. Even in this early stage of development, the design proves that Mr. Gehry can handle the challenge better than most. His approach is a blow against the formulaic ways of thinking that are evidence of the city's sagging level of cultural ambition. It suggests another development model: locate real talent, encourage it to break the rules, get out of the way.

Posted by lumi at 6:57 AM

June 21, 2005

SCARY GEHRY: Frank Gehry's Sexy Lingerie

Gehry's Nets ArenaCurbed.com takes a well deserved pot shot at this publicity pic of Gehry's Net's Arena.

Click here for a chill or thrill (depending on what turns you on).

Posted by lumi at 8:29 AM

June 4, 2005

Towering egos


Guardian Unlimited discusses "tyrants, kings and tycoons [erecting] grand monuments to their own vanity" and introduces the term "Ediface Complex." Also included are stories about Frank Gehry bending over backwards to design bathrooms and garages for the influential.

There is a psychological parallel between making a mark on the landscape with a building and the exercise of political power. Both depend on the imposition of will. Certainly, reducing an entire city to the scale of a doll's house in an architectural model has an inherent appeal for those who regard the individual as of no account. Architecture feeds the egos of the susceptible. They grow more and more dependent on it to the point where architecture becomes an end in itself, seducing its addicts as they build on an ever-larger scale.


Posted by amy at 10:27 AM

March 28, 2005

SCARY GEHRY: The Gehry Effect


You've all heard of the "Gehry Effect" which is said to be drawing new life into Bilbao with a Frank Gehry designed Guggenheim museum. What of the Gehry effect with Seattle's Experience Music Project?

Well, the project is collapsing in on itself, but the hideous building remains. What to do with your hideous piece of steel once it fails to reach it's potential?

While he said the exterior is inviting, inside EMP is too quiet, too empty and difficult to navigate.

"I think if you walked in there for the first time, you'd be at a loss as to where to go," said Bream. "I didn't even know where the Hendrix exhibit was, and wouldn't that be their crown jewel?"

If EMP shuts down (which would be sad), what would you like to see happen to the big chunk o’ color that has become part of our city’s landscape?

A complex of nightclubs? The coolest food court ever?

EMP officials make it sound as though the layoffs, budget cuts and shrinking attendance were all part of its plan.

Perhaps we should call it the Skehry effect...

Posted by amy at 10:10 PM

March 2, 2005

SCARY GEHRY: Plan Underway to Reduce Disney Hall Glare

NY Newsday: Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall will be undergoing a facelift to reduce the glare of the polished silver siding that has been reflecting heat energy and overwhelming the air conditioning systems of nearby residents.


WARNING: A McGehry franchise coming to a site near you.

Posted by lumi at 5:45 PM

November 30, 2004

Complaints take shine off Gehry's L.A. concert hall

CBC Arts News: Report on complaints by LA motorists and neighbors of Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA who are getting baked and blinded by reflective panels.

...temperatures on sidewalks adjacent to the concert hall reached higher than 58 C (136F).

Forest City Ratner touts the merits of having the internationally-renowned world-class architect, Frank Gehry, on board to design the Atlantic Yards complex. Before we are blinded by the light, have a look at what Gehry hath wrought on Los Angeles.


Posted by lumi at 11:23 AM

March 9, 2004

Angry Tanenbaum quits over AGO's new design

Toronto Star

The move reveals a bitter feud over the gallery's plans for a $194 million transformation by revered architect Frank Gehry.

In a letter sent Friday to Matthew Teitelbaum, the gallery's CEO, Tanenbaum describes the Gehry project as "needless destruction" and "a blatant attempt to eradicate the recent history of the gallery."


UPDATE, 3/10/07: This article is only available through the Toronto Star online archive.

Posted by lumi at 9:45 AM