Sunday, August 31, 2008

At the DEIS hearing, "an affront to common sense" on adaptive reuse

This week AYR will look back at the 8/23/06 hearing on the Atlantic Yards Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), drawing on the official transcript.

A genteel preservationist took the opportunity to advise on adaptive reuse, which had been dismissed by the Empire State Development Corporation, and didn't get much traction with the crowd.

MS. CHRISTABEL GOUGH: I'm Christabel Gough from the Society for the Architecture of the City. We're an all-volunteer historic preservation advocacy group. And we're here to make some comments on the EIS, specifically on the chapter seven, Cultural Resources. Two buildings in the footprint were determined by the State Historic Preservation Office to be significant historic structures: The former LIRR Stables and the Ward Bakery.

...The consultants say that they examined the possibility of conversion to residential use, but they rejected it. Why? Conversion might entail altering the buildings and then the buildings would lose their integrity. To contend that historic buildings should be demolished so as to avoid changing them is an affront to common sense... and to local preservation laws. The ultimate loss of integrity is demolition, not minor alterations for adaptive re-use.


A VOICE: They don't want no housing.

[The implication was that project opponents didn't want people living near them. I think Gough misheard it as an argument about architecture.

MS. CHRISTABEL GOUGH: Yes, but there could be housing -- there could [be] housing where we built buildings, they're often is. It's done all over the country.

[And Forest City Enterprises, the parent of Forest City Ratner, has done that, as well, in cities like Richmond. It just didn't fit their plans this time.]

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