Some architects argue that it is unrealistic and self-serving for them to presume that they can transform a society or distance themselves from a patron’s conduct.
“Sometimes architects like to think they’re above the political fray,” said Frederic M. Bell, the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects. “I think that’s a little bit disingenuous. Sometimes it’s very difficult to take commissions from countries with positions with which one disagrees.”
While Forest City Ratner is not Communist China, that still reminds me of a couple of AY-related quotes. Frank Gehry in January 2006 said, "If I think it got out of whack with my own principles, I’d walk away."
Asked if any of his previous projects involved the use of eminent domain or eminent domain abuse, and whether that be enough to make him walk away from Atlantic Yards, he responded, "No comment."
When to walk
This past March, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, responding to reports of a truncated arena-only project for the foreseeable future--one that Forest City Ratner in May asserted was incorrect--suggested that "Mr. Gehry, on the other hand, could walk away."
As I observed, Maybe Forest City Ratner should release the gag on Gehry and let him talk to Brooklynites about how the project fits with his principles.
He did walk once, from the Playa Vista project in California, even though Ouroussoff, then writing for the Los Angeles Times, had said it was too late. Still, the critic acknowledged the role of the architect: "Gehry's reputation lends the entire project an air of respectability. In effect, he gives Playa Vista the imprimatur of the architectural and artistic establishments--communities one traditionally associates with high ideals."