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Threats of Violence Derail Plans For Berlin Urban Think Tank

The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a globe trotting think tank that landed in New York last year will not be making its next scheduled stop in Berlin due to threats, reports Phil Patton.
March 24, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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The Lab is intended to "addresses issues of contemporary urban life through programs and public discourse. Its goal is the exploration of new ideas, experimentation, and ultimately the creation of forward-thinking solutions for city life."

With a plan to visit nine cities in six years, the Lab may need to amend its travel plans. Apparently left-wing activists in Berlin object to an acceleration of gentrification that they argue the Lab will bring to the Kreuzberg district of the city.

According to Patton, "Der Tagesspiegel, a local newspaper, reported that threats against the proposed building had been made on the Internet. A blog was started specifically to oppose the project. A community meeting convened by the foundation to explain the objectives of the lab was interrupted by angry opponents."

Although, as Patton asserts, "Gentrification might seem like a critical topic for a forum on cities' futures to tackle," a statement from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation cited, "police and local authorities' high hazard assessment," for reaching the conclusion that, "While we welcome vigorous debate, we cannot risk the possibility of violence, as raised by a small minority."

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Published on Thursday, March 22, 2012 in The New York Times
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