Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Wow: Times coverage of Ratner/Gilmartin award ends with MAS president saying Jackie O. would've approved

Y'know, there are multiple ways to frame the Municipal Art Society's surprising award to Forest City Ratner, and in Plan to Honor Big Developer In Brooklyn Is Criticized, the MAS defends itself more vigorously than before:
Their contributions are such skyline-defining and neighborhood-altering projects as the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, a downtown apartment tower by Frank Gehry and the headquarters of The New York Times.
“They are developers at the forefront of building a better city, whether it’s through affordable housing, transportation, technology or innovative architecture and design,” Vin Cipolla, the group’s president, said in an interview.
But the activists and preservationists who see Forest City Ratner more as a bulldozer than as a builder do not think the former first lady would have been so complimentary.
There are quotes from Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, and Atlantic Yards opponent Daniel Goldstein. But Cipolla doesn't look back. “This is about where we want the city to go, and Bruce and MaryAnne have been great leaders in that regard,” Mr. Cipolla said.

Really?

After mentioning the counter-event planned June 11, the Times's Matt Chaban closes the piece and gives Cipolla the last word:
Which event would Ms. Onassis have attended?
“As a person interested in design and a vital New Yorker, she certainly would have been involved in the decision, and I think she would be pleased with Forest City,” Mr. Cipolla said.
That's (understandably) self-serving. Let me say I've spoken to several people who could also credibly speculate on the subject and they all came out with a different prediction.

Unfortunately, it's part of a pattern of coverage (like the "modern blueprint" fiasco) in which Forest City--which, as acknowledged, built the Times tower--or its supporters got the last word.

There are alternate (and more skeptical) ways to present the situation. For example, Capital New York's coverage closed with critic Ron Shiffman suggesting that lucre trumped principle.

Or, as I wrote, Forest City's record doesn't necessarily fit with the Municipal Art Society's efforts to create a "more livable city by advocating for excellence in urban planning and design, a commitment to historic preservation and the arts, and the empowerment of local communities to affect change in their neighborhoods."

2 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:09 AM

    Sad, says on MAS own site that Vin is moving on to the private sector etc etc, getting the cushy landing ready, and he makes six figures and will continue to do so, it is one of many reasons why I stopped my anual donation to MAS a few years ago

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  2. He's started a company with David Rockwell:
    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140114/ARTS/140119934/david-rockwell-vin-cipolla-ready-to-launch

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