Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gehry blames Atlantic Yards debacle on opponents, not developer's ambition

From The Independent of London, a profile headlined Frank Gehry: 'Don't call me a starchitect':
New York, where he lived for many years, is another city in which you might expect to see more of Gehry's singular style. His relatively orthodox Beekman Tower, a 76-storey residential skyscraper, is due to open next year in Manhattan. But it was with the sprawling and ambitious Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn that he was to have made his mark on the city. Last December, however, in bid to cut costs, property developer Bruce Ratner fired Gehry from the project, scrapped six years' worth of design work in process, and replaced it with, in the words of New York Magazine, "a graceless knock-off by a journey-man stadium-builder".

Critics in the city painted a picture of a celebrity architect hung out to dry by a property magnate who had used the Gehry name to obtain tax breaks, to win out over rival bids and to secure the power to evict tenants. Asked about events, Gehry merely says the collapse was "down to a set of opposing interests that blocked the project".
Well, the "graceless knock-off" was given a new facade, but Gehry can't get away with just blaming opponents.

His design was impossible. There was no market for the office building known as Building 1, so forget about the much-touted Urban Room. And it's questionable whether the other residential towers planned to ring the arena could be built on the original schedule, given the competition for scarce housing subsidies.

And Gehry's never explained why, if he works "tight to the bone," the cost of his arena soared. Was it for security measures?

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