Schizo Skyline: Warring Williamsburg Mandates Leave Waterfront Out of Whack

Did the rezoning of the Williamsburg waterfront backfire? Stephen Jacob Smith reflects on the lack of transition between the neighborhood's skyscraping waterfront and its low-rise inland, a missing middle mandated by recent upzoning.
March 17, 2013, 1pm PDT | smithsj
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"As Vishaan Chakrabarti, a principal at SHoP Architects, was unveiling the Southside Williamsburg master plan they designed for Two Trees, he evoked the image of Manhattan’s skyline. 'Just like in the dead center of New York,' he told the assembled group of reporters, 'we have this parabolic moment—there’s this moment of exuberance that happens' as the towers rise on the waterfront, culminating in the towers at the Domino site. The tallest will reach 598 feet, or about 60 stories, making it taller than any other building in the borough.

“And that,” he continued, “that’s the stuff of postcards all around the world.”

"But despite the best efforts of SHoP and Two Trees, the plan does not succeed in aping the natural parabolic shape of an organic thicket of towers found in midtown, downtown or even downtown Brooklyn. Nor could it—Williamsburg’s new planning regime, instituted in the 2005 rezoning and reinforced in 2009, makes sure of that it."

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Published on Friday, March 8, 2013 in New York Observer
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