Monday, June 15, 2015

Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park: now two more architects (KPF, Marvel), two more master planners *consulted* (updated/corrected)

In 2005, some two years after the Atlantic Yards project was announced, the celebrity architect, Frank Gehry, said more than once said he didn't want to design the entire project, an arena and 16 towers.

“How do you make a complex that doesn’t look like a project even though one architect’s doing it?” he asked rhetorically at one event.

"Normally I would’ve brought in five other architects, but one of the requirements of this client is that I do it," Gehry declared at another event. Developer Forest City Ratner claimed one firm would be more efficient, but surely Gehry's stature--and the presumed higher prices it would reap--drove that decision/claim.

In February 2007, the original landscape architect, Laurie Olin, predicted to the New York Observer's Matthew Schuerman that Gehry wouldn’t design every building. Forest City executive Jim Stuckey responded that Gehry “will be the architect on every one of them.”

A changing project

Well, Stuckey famously said, "Projects change, markets change," and he left in 2007, too, under murky circumstances.

Now Atlantic Yards isn't even Atlantic Yards, having been renamed Pacific Park Brooklyn last year (though many still haven't adopted the name). Gehry was bounced from the project in 2008 (though it didn't become public until 2009).

The arena was shrunken by adopting a design from Ellerbe Becket, which, after it was criticized, gained a new, pre-rusted clamshell exterior-cum-oculus (and more) from SHoP. Then SHoP designed the first tower, B2, the troubled modular building at 461 Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue. It's also produced renderings of two other towers on the arena block.

We last year learned that CookFox would design the two buildings under construction on the southeast block of the site, 535 Carlton (B14), a subsidized rental tower, and 550 Vanderbilt (B11), a condo building.

Two new architecture firms

This past weekend, the fawning New York Times coverage of the sales launch for 550 Vanderbilt
revealed revealed that two other architecture firms will be involved:
In the fall, work will begin at 615 Dean Street [B12] on a market-rate condominium designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates with about 250 units. It will be on the park, next door to 550 Vanderbilt.
Next summer, construction will begin on a 336-unit market-rate rental with a public school at its base, designed by Marvel Architects. It will round out the Dean Street side of the park block between Carlton and Vanderbilt. 

Actually, unless plans have changed drastically, the latter building will be B15, between Dean and Pacific streets just east of Sixth Avenue, between Sixth and Carlton.

Two new master planners *consulted*

[Update/correction: Forest City spokesman Joe DePlasco says "We had discussions with these firms but we are not using their services at this time. Not sure where you got the documents but they are not accurate." I got the documents from New York State.]
Also, when the developers say Frank Gehry conceived the master plan, well, not any more., maybe, maybe not.

The consultation role of two new master planners is revealed in an "Assignment and Assumption Agreement" signed 6/30/14 between Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards Development Company (AYDC) and the new Atlantic Yards Venture jointly owned by Forest City (30%) and the new majority owner, Greenland Group (70%).

There's an agreement with B.i.G. Architecture (aka Bjarke Ingels Group, a Copenhagen- and New York-based firm) for Master Planning Services related to Phase II of the project. There's another agreement for Master Planning Services with Steven Holl Architect.

(This has not been revealed previously, as far as I can tell.)

In other words, Gehry and Olin were right. Others would be involved. Even if the others were merely consulted, they have had some kind of role.

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