New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff discusses why the impending breakdown of the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn is a harsh blow to urban planning in New York.
"The growing possibility that much of the multibillion-dollar Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn will be scrapped because of a lack of financing may be a bitter pill for its developer, Forest City Ratner. But it's also a painful setback for urban planning in New York."
"When it was unveiled in late 2003, it seemed to signal a genuine effort to raise the quality of large-scale development in a city still stinging from the planning failures at ground zero."
"So if the decision to proceed with an 18,000-seat basketball arena but to defer or eliminate the four surrounding towers is defensible from a business perspective, it also feels like a betrayal of the public trust."
"It's important to remember that this is also the city that spawned Rockefeller Center, a 22-acre development at the core of Manhattan that became a glorious emblem of the 20th-century metropolis. For some of us Atlantic Yards presented a creative opportunity for the 21st century."
"If large-scale development is unavoidable, why not enlist serious talents like Mr. Gehry to come up with an alternative to the bottom-line proposals that have been the accepted norm for decades? Finally a big developer had turned to a legitimate architectural hero for help, rather than the usual corporate hacks."