Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sorry, Marty: "Miss Brooklyn" would dwarf the Willy B

Borough President Marty Markowitz has called for the tallest building in the Atlantic Yards project, the 620-foot "Miss Brooklyn," be reduced so as not to trump the venerable Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower, which is 512 feet.

He hasn't gotten his wish. Unless there's a tactical concession in the wings--and maybe there is--the response in the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) gives as thorough an explanation as possible. The explanation: another sort of tall building could block views, it would be too expensive to move the "Miss Brooklyn" (which has been modified somewhat), and the acknowledged significant adverse impact would be mitigated by new views of Frank Gehry's skyline. (Click to enlarge)

According to the FEIS:
As stated in the DEIS in Chapter 8, “Urban Design and Visual Resources,” the height, form, and locations of the proposed buildings would obstruct views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building from many public vantage points south and southeast of the project site—primarily along the Flatbush Avenue corridor, but also from areas of Pacific Street between 4th and Flatbush Avenues, points along 5th Avenue near Flatbush Avenue, from Bergen Street between 6th and Carlton Avenues, the Dean Playground, and some points along Vanderbilt Avenue east of the project site (see Figures 8-45 and 8-46).

The loss of these views would constitute a significant adverse impact on this visual resource from these public vantage points because the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building is one of the most prominent and recognizable features of the Brooklyn skyline, and has been since it was constructed in 1927–1929. However, it should be noted that a building could be constructed as-of-right and independent of the proposed project on Block 1118 that could also obstruct views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building along the Flatbush Avenue corridor south of the project site and from other vantage points.

Similarly, even new, low-rise as-of-right buildings on other portions of the project site could be developed that could partially obstruct some views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building from other existing vantage points south and southeast of the project site....

The bulk and height of Building 1 have been developed in consultation with City Planning. Building 1, designed in large part to relate to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building in form, would alter views of the Bank Building on the Brooklyn skyline... Reducing the height of Building 1 so that the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building would be visible would require a substantial reduction in this and other building heights on the project site.

It would not be appropriate to locate Building 1 elsewhere on the project site since other locations on the project site do not provide a location at a major commercial and transit crossroads. Furthermore, since the DEIS, and in response to recommendations issued by CPC, the middle and upper portions of Building 1’s design have been narrowed. This results in a more obvious tower form that is more responsive to the distinct form of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building.

However, the proposed project would result in an unmitigated adverse impact to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building. Views southeast along the Flatbush Avenue view corridor, from northwest of the project site would include views of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building, Building 1, and the arena. These changes would be significant but not adverse (see Figure 8-44). The proposed buildings would have a significant adverse impact on the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building by obstructing views of it from the Flatbush Avenue view corridor south of the project site (except immediately adjacent to the project site) and from some vantage points southeast of the project site.

Although the proposed project would alter the context of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building that serves as a wayfinder for this area of Brooklyn, the proposed project would create new wayfinders for this area and frame the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Building on the skyline.

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