Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Novelist Lethem to Gehry: "Walk away"

In an open letter headlined Brooklyn's Trojan Horse, published yesterday on Slate.com, Brooklyn-based novelist Jonathan Lethem, a member of the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn advisory board (which should've been mentioned in his bio), suggests that it's time for architect Frank Gehry to abandon the Atlantic Yards project.

The reasons:
--the project's oversize scale
--"your partner's manipulative dishonesty"
--"Ratner's abhorrent track record"
--"the divisive zero-sum politics"
--"the principle of eminent domain"
--blocking the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower
--that not-so-comely Miss Brooklyn tower.

He quotes Gehry's words in a January presentation:
"If I think it got out of whack with my own principles, I'd walk away." I can only hope that what was once perhaps just a seed has grown. For I'm positive that is exactly what you should do, Mr. Gehry. Walk away.

It's notable that, two-and-a-half years after the project was announced, it took a name novelist to get a piece in a national publication. The project has been long overdue for scrutiny and, even though some on the Slate.com message boards say that the issue is too local, it's not. It's a development debate with national implications.

Gehry recently told the Times of his relationships with developers, "They have to meet me as an equal." Given that Gehry's professed a willingness to meet with Brooklynites but has not been allowed to do so, and that his predictions of significant cuts in scale have not been realized, the jury's still out on Gehry's claim.

No comments:

Post a Comment