Thursday, September 24, 2009

Slate critic, disremembering Lethem, says it's fine that Gehry's gone

In Slate, architecture critic Witold Rybczynski writes an essay headlined Too Much of a Good ThingFrank Gehry isn't going to design Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards development, and that's OK.

His conclusion:
It is likely that if Bruce Ratner manages to complete his project it will be designed by more than one architect. The buildings will probably be more conventional in appearance and the overall design considerably less cohesive. Ideally, the realities of the market will pare down the number of apartments from the projected 6,400 to a more manageable figure. There will probably be a few trendy buildings to catch the eye (perhaps even one designed by Gehry—why not?), and many mainstream designs to pay the bills. This pragmatic mix is not necessarily a bad thing—it's the way that real cities have always been built.

No doubt, but aren't real cities usually also built by multiple developers over multiple parcels rather than single developers over one large site? Or, if they're going to be single sites like Rockefeller Center, shouldn't there at least be an architectural competition?

And shouldn't Rybczynski and Slate have linked to Jonathan Lethem's June 2006 open letter to Gehry, pointing out many more troubling aspects of the project beyond architecture, and how Gehry was used to leverage public and political approval for such a project?

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