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Ouroussoff Rips Hudson Yards

In an article in today's paper, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff characterized Tishman’s winning bid for Hudson Yards as a "wishful fantasty," its design as “miserably depressing," and offered a scathing indictment of the state of large-scale development in New York:

If recent history teaches us anything, it is that the project is only likely to get worse. This is because of the nature of the urban planning process in New York, which tends to lock in the worst parts of a design while allowing a developer to chip away at what is most original and often most costly.

New York is experiencing the repercussions of such thinking at ground zero, where Daniel Libeskind’s master plan, unveiled by Gov. George E. Pataki to mixed reviews in 2003, is now a distant memory. Various design components have been watered down until they are barely recognizable.

In the Atlantic Yards project, Forest City Ratner acknowledged last week that it would delay building most of the elements of Frank Gehry’s design for that eight million-square-foot development because it is short of financing. If built, the project would be a pathetic distortion of the original design. And the developer already has city approval.

There will be a similar predicament if the city manages to steamroll the Tishman Speyer railyards proposal through the public review process. The broad outlines will be virtually set in stone, from the position of the park to the location of a yet-unchosen cultural institution. So will the site’s density, among the highest in the city. And the architecture within the plan will gradually diminish in quality. The West Side railyards is as good a place as any to start rethinking this disastrous approach to charting the city’s future. The transportation authority could begin by taking the planning process out of the hands of bean counters who have little interest in anything but profit. It could bring in more thoughtful voices from the urban planning and architectural fields. It could take into account the ups and downs of the area’s economy and how a neighborhood of this scale might evolve.

But that would mean championing the public good rather than hustling for money.

Read “Profit and Public Good Clash in Grand Plans,” by Nicolai Ouroussoff in The New York Times

Read “Ada Louise Huxtable Lambasts Hudson Yards and West Side Planning”


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