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Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park graphic: what's built/what's coming + project FAQ (pinned post)

Clarifying design changes at B5: now, tower's Atlantic Avenue facade will go straight up, above the base

Thanks to a new graphic distributed at the 7/22/19 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation (AY CDC), we now have a better sense of the proposed design changes for B5, the first building to be built over the railyard, just east of Sixth Avenue.

Bottom line: because of site constraints caused by work at the Vanderbilt Yard, the building will rise with lesser setbacks, occupying a narrower section of the parcel. Notably, it will have a sheer wall on Atlantic Avenue above the base, rather than a setback between the middle section (aka "shoulder") and upper portion.

The building's approved height, lot coverage, and square footage limits won't change, we were told at the predecessor Quality of Life meeting. (Actually, it looks like the lot coverage would shrink--see the difference between the red dotted outline, in the image below left, and the black border, suggesting a tower with less depth below Atlantic Avenue.)

"This is the only place that the core of this building could go, given the massing," said Scott Solish of Greenland USA (which dominates Greenland Forest City Partners), "and to take advantage of the square footage that was assigned to the site."

"It's a shift of massing a few feet in the base, shoulder and tower," he said at the time, not specifying the number.

Looking more closely

What would the change look like? The image below, from the previous Quality of Life meeting presentation, was not so helpful. The red (not pink) indicated where the Design Guidelines were being exceeded, and thus required amending, but no before-and-after set of renderings was provided.

More information available?

I asked if they could provide a comparison of the previously approved version and the newly proposed one.

"There's will be updated Design Guideline exhibits," Solish said, "so you could take the old exhibits and compare them to the new one."

That new exhibit was presented six days later, at the 7/22/19 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, which endorsed the change with no discussion. The proposed new text, as noted below, spells out the specific changes in dimensions.

But it would have been worth clarifying the changes, with a look at before-and-after images, as I do below.

2006 image, and then new version

Let's look first at this image from the 2006 Design Guidelines, produced by the project's original architect, Gehry Architects. (The document is available on the web, but neither it nor the image below was not shared with the AY CDC directors.)

Now let's look at the new image, by Dattner Architects. (If they work on the project, that will be yet another architectural firm. Not that that's bad, it's just a notable contrast with the original pledge.)

Comparing the two, it seems like the image at left, the Atlantic Avenue facade, shows a shift, with a flatter facade, but the numbers are unclear. The base seems a little closer to the street.

Clarifying the changes

Indeed, instead of having a base with a setback along Atlantic Avenue at least 50 feet, B5 would be 47.5 feet away. Along Sixth Avenue--see the image positioned at right--the required setback starting 125 feet south of Atlantic Avenue would be reduced from 20 feet to 18 feet.

Let's look at the middle portion. At the building shoulder along Atlantic Avenue, the required setback of 63 feet will be cut by 7.5 feet, to 55.5 feet. Regarding the shoulder along Sixth Avenue, starting 125 feet south of Atlantic Avenue, the 20-foot setback would be cut to 18 feet.

Now, the upper portion. Along Atlantic, the required setback of 68 feet would be cut by 13.5 feet, to 55.5 feet. The required 20-foot setback along Sixth Avenue would be cut from 20 feet to 18 feet.

So, instead of having the shoulder along Atlantic at a 63-foot setback, stepping back to 68 feet in the upper portion, both will have a 55.5-foot setback. That's not huge, but it's not insignificant, so it would have been good to get another perspective--for example, comparisons of the view looking east along Atlantic Avenue.