Starchitect Bait and Switch Has New Yorkers Concerned

As the Upper West Side's massive Riverside Center development moves forward with a new designer, will controls negotiated during the approvals process be enough to preserve the vision of architect Christian de Portzamparc?
September 25, 2012, 2pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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New Yorkers should be used to the scenario by now: developer chooses world-renowned architect to create unique vision for massive development, leveraging his/her design credibility on a controversial project; public officials and public swoon over iconic designs and approve project; developer dumps celebrated architect for less well-regarded designer and builds different/cheaper design than one that was sold to the public and officials (see Atlantic Yards, for example).    

Well a similar story is playing out on Manhattan's Upper West Side where architect Christian de Portzamparc has been dumped for local firm SLCE as designer of the first building to be developed as part of the Riverside Center project, reports Matt Chaban.   

"While [developer] Dermot insists its project will be up to the standards promised during last year's public review process, some, including the exacting City Planning chair Amanda Burden, worry the design doppelgangers will lead to lesser work," writes Chaban.

"In a brief statement, Dermot principal and COO Stephen Benjamin, stressed that his tower was still under design and, given the zoning covenants, would still resemble what was originally proposed. 'We are in the midst of the design process for a spectacular building that will be in full compliance with the zoning as is our obligation and right,' Mr. Benjamin said."


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Published on Friday, September 21, 2012 in The New York Observer
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