Saturday, April 16, 2011

Flashback, 2005: Watch for Ratner’s 'bait and switch' (on Gehry designs)

In a 9/10/05 letter to the editor of the Brooklyn Paper, headlined Watch for Ratner’s 'bait and switch', Boerum Hill resident Dan Wiley was prescient:
I commend architect Frank Gehry for trying to make buildings wiggle like fish in developer Bruce Ratner’s arena/office/housing mega-complex. However, how many times have we seen renowned architects come up with early innovative designs for projects needing zoning and other approvals and than see those designs fade with the stamp of approval?

...But even if we were to accept these architectural promises at face value, would they be so great anyway? Isn’t this Gehry project simply putting a slippery skin on what is really at heart a dehumanizing Modernist series of super blocks? Maybe what we need are not whales or sharks (eminent domain) but rather smaller fish that have some respect for the coral of Brooklyn. That’s what Gehry should work on.
Of course Gehry's now gone, with the arena designed by sports specialist Ellerbe Becket (with a skin by buzzy firm SHoP), and the towers designed by SHoP and other architects yet to be named.

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