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shattered crystal

June 9, 2009

[NYTimes] The recent news that the developer Forest City Ratner had scrapped Frank Gehry’s design for a Nets arena in central Brooklyn is not just a blow to the art of architecture. It is a shameful betrayal of the public trust, one that should enrage all those who care about this city.

Whatever you may have felt about Mr. Gehry’s design — too big, too flamboyant — there is little doubt that it was thoughtful architecture. His arena complex, in which the stadium was embedded in a matrix of towers resembling falling shards of glass, was a striking addition to the Brooklyn skyline; it was also a fervent effort to engage the life of the city below.

A new design by the firm Ellerbe Becket has no such ambitions. A colossal, spiritless box, it would fit more comfortably in a cornfield than at one of the busiest intersections of a vibrant metropolis. Its low-budget, no-frills design embodies the crass, bottom-line mentality that puts personal profit above the public good. If it is ever built, it will create a black hole in the heart of a vital neighborhood.

But what’s most offensive about the design is the message it sends to New Yorkers. Architecture, we are being told, is something decorative and expendable, a luxury we can afford only in good times, or if we happen to be very rich. What’s most important is to build, no matter how thoughtless or dehumanizing the results. It is the kind of logic that kills cities. (read)

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 9, 2009 10:13 am

    But what do people like?

    Yesterday I landed on a coin collector’s website, and I was shocked to see the American commemoration coins. There was mostly the face of the lady of the statue of Liberty, with those pikes around her head. And they drew all the folds of her gown. Did they think that was elegant? Or pretty? Or maybe the government has to use this noble time-honoured symbol.

    However, the icons of MS Windows and Firefox, these little drawings representing a table top or an envelope or a fox wrapped around a globe? What is that?

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