Atlantic Yards gets a significant cameo in the book's Conclusion (its tenth chapter), but it is the focus of Walker's review, which states:
Atlantic Yards is a familiar urban story: surrounding neighborhoods are braced for upheaval; architects have come and gone; redesigns have been announced, lambasted, tweaked, disowned; lawsuits multiply like kudzu; millions of dollars are all but blowing through the air; and the likely date of actual completion is anyone’s guess (Forest City Ratner, the developer, contends the Barclays Center will be finished by 2011, but the Web site does not give a timetable for the rest of the project).Actually, they're saying 2012, now.
Questions that never got answered
Walker, who wisely recognizes the merits of “infill” development in the railyard, sets out the issues that arose:
The question, of course, is what form that development should take. Should new additions be in scale with the surrounding neighborhoods? Should they be done piecemeal or all at once? Do we need several architects or is one sufficient? How much attention should the city and borough pay to the interests of local boards? Should new construction be limited to the rail yards, or should the development be bigger?If it is done all at once, I and some others will be very surprised, given the gentle deadlines in the Development Agreement.
To me, these questions always have been theoretical. It was never hard to see who would prevail. Despite the lawsuits, protests, and holdouts spearheaded by the major opposition group—Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn—Forest City was simply too rich and too shrewd, and its political support was too deep. Its large-scale approach to development would not meet any serious challenges. Atlantic Yards will be a Robert Moses throwback: a massive project, done all at once, unsparing of existing structures, with a skyline soaring above the rooftops of the three and four story brownstone buildings that make up much of the surrounding neighborhoods.
The unequal playing field
Read on for thoughts of the city as a delicate organism, Walker's acknowledgment that some big projects (like Rockefeller Center) did work, and Gratz's conclusion, via Walker, that "the continuing influence of Robert Moses is a sign that the battle for a Jacobsian city is continuous, and always fought on an unequal playing field."