Monday, October 06, 2008

The latest FCR "liar flier": recycled paper, recycled promises, new distortion

Probably the most curious aspect of the latest Forest City Ratner promotional brochure (aka "liar flier"), reproduced in full below, is that it contains a distortion of an already distorted image.

(The flier, which I picked up yesterday at the Atlantic Antic, is the eighth such flier, by my count; the seventh is here, with links to its predecessors. Click on graphics to enlarge.)

Keep in mind that the rendering at right of the arena block, released in May, doesn't really present the view from Flatbush Avenue. Rather, the perspective is both to the south and above ground; this airborne view of Flatbush minimizes the 150-foot height of the arena and shows the cars as specks on the ground. (Frank Gehry as Frank Abagnale?)

Remember, in his criticisms last April of renderings for the Hudson Yards, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff could have been addressing Gehry's Atlantic Yards renderings.

A "delirious pileup of forms"

Now consider the cropped version of the Gehry rendering, which appears on the back cover of Forest City Ratner's latest brochure.

While the brochure designers could have shrunk the entire rendering to make it fit in the space allotted, they chose not to do so. Nor did they choose to crop more of the area at the top.

It looks like relatively more was cropped from the bottom than top. The effect is to show a "delirious pile-up of forms" (to quote Ouroussoff when more effusive about the project, in his 7/5/05 appraisal) but not to provide much context.

Where are the cars along Flatbush Avenue? They're gone. Where's the fourth tower? Gone. There's even less context than before.

(Fun fact: a May 2008 press release from a Forest City Ratner p.r. agency states:
Credit Line: Gehry Partners, LLP
NOTE: These images may not be cropped or altered in any way.
)

The brochure: cover

The front and back cover repeat the deceptive "vision for Downtown Brooklyn" claim at the heart of the Atlantic Yards p.r. effort. The images include a Laurie Olin sketch of trees outside a building maybe 12 stories, a view of the arena, a construction workers, and white man and black woman--a couple, or just friendly neighbors?--hanging out in harmony amidst greenery.

Note that, unlike its slick predecessors, this brochure is printed on recycled paper.
Second and third pages

On the second page, the brochure quotes a reliably effusive Daily News editorial from 6/24/08 (though it was posted a day earlier), the one that incorrectly claimed the project had been "approved up and down by the city and state." On the third page, it repeats a promise of 15,000 construction jobs--which would be job-years--without pointing out how long it might take to deliver such jobs. (Also note that economist Brad Humphreys points out that the choice is not between these construction jobs and no construction jobs.)

Forest City Ratner has apparently stopped promising office jobs, though it still claims the development "will serve as an economic engine."
Fourth and fifth pages

The centerfold continues to promise affordable housing while only about eight stories of a tower and a seemingly large piece of open space. Though on page four it notes that the demand for affordable homes "grows more urgent every day," it says nothing about the probability that such homes would be provided within the announced ten-year timetable.

The "eco-friendly" project is aimed to have LEED certification, though viable buildings are being demolished, and, to quote architect Carl Elefante, "the greenest building is one that is already built.”
Sixth and seventh pages

These pages tout the Barclays Center, billed as "a new community arena," though the developer would gain all the benefit of the naming rights, even as nominal public ownership is used in an effort to obtain tax-free bonds.

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