Sunday, May 14, 2006

Comparing AY 2005 vs. 2006--and why did the Times downplay the latest?

So what's the real change in Frank Gehry's design from July 2005 (left) to May 2006 (right)?

The New York Times, like other media outlets, reported the scaledown storyline: 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.

The Times did lead off by saying that the current model looks a lot like its predecessor. But you really need to see the two juxtaposed, which is what some others realized first--Matthew Schuerman in the New York Observer's blog The Real Estate had them front and center, then concluded of the overall plan: He does make a few token gestures to fit into the borough, however, but they definitely are tokens.

And blogger Dope on the Slope observed, Wow!!! The difference is so... so... Negligible.



2005 vs. 2006

Will people be stirred to concern, as they were when the Times 7/5/05 published a front page story (Instant Skyline Added to Brooklyn Arena Plan) about the project, complete with the arresting image of those tilted buildings? A day later, on 7/6/05, a followup article containing more than 1000 words (Brooklynites Take In a Big Development Plan, and Speak Up) summarized the response: "The new designs set off a range of emotions, from fury and disbelief to skepticism to a few notes of cautious support.

(In my report, I criticized the 7/5/05 article for naively suggesting that a skyline had been added, since a significant skyline had been there all along. In retrospect, however, the most important element of the article was the front-page image.)

Page B5 this time

Why wasn't this front-page news in the Times on Friday, rather than being placed on page B5? Maybe because it wasn't an exclusive, like the design revealed last year. Still, the one photo included in the print edition--of FCR's Jim Stuckey, architect Frank Gehry, and landscape architect Laurie Olin (right)--doesn't fully show the scale. Given that the Times article was headlined Developer Defends Atlantic Yards, shouldn't we see more precisely what was being defended?

There's been no followup, but news outlets owe the public a direct comparison of the two plans. As the recently-deceased A.M. Rosenthal, longtime Times executive editor, liked to say, "When something important is going on, silence is a lie."

Perhaps we'll see the two when Times architectural critical Nicolai Ouroussoff writes his appraisal. In an essay 7/5/05 (Seeking First to Reinvent the Sports Arena, and Then Brooklyn), he called the "Miss Brooklyn" tower "a delirious pileup of forms, which become a visual counterpoint to the horizontal thrust of the avenue."

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