“Locate real talent, encourage it to break the rules, get out of the way” Matt 06 Jul 2005

17 comments Latest by dedi

Frank Gehry’s new design for a corridor of high-rise towers anchored by the Nets arena in Brooklyn would transform the area and create a brand new skyline. This slideshow (NY Times) shows how Gehry progresses from what he calls a “sketch” — looks suspiciously like what a kid playing with blocks might come up with — to an actual model.



And while architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff panned the new Freedom Tower design, he’s gaga over Gehry’s plans because it’s unformulaic, integrates with its environment, and has soul. More after the jump.

What is unfolding is an urban model of remarkable richness and texture, one that could begin to inject energy into the bloodless formulas that are slowly draining our cities of their vitality…Mr. Gehry’s intuitive approach to planning - his ability to pick up subtle cues from the existing context - virtually guarantees that the development will be better than what New Yorkers are used to.

The Freedom Tower shows what happens when you design by committee. Gehry’s plans show what happens when an individual, or small team, gets the chance to take the ball and run with it.

His approach is a blow against the formulaic ways of thinking that are evidence of the city’s sagging level of cultural ambition. It suggests another development model: locate real talent, encourage it to break the rules, get out of the way.

You can read more about the design at Gothamist and New York Magazine.

17 comments so far (Jump to latest)

Blue 06 Jul 05

What is with Ghery’s fascination with buildings that look like they are going to fall over? Shouldn’t people feel confident and comfortable that structures are solid before they walk into them?

pwb 06 Jul 05

Hey, now New Yorkers wouldn’t need to go to Vegas!

Dave Simon 06 Jul 05

Is the intent for the buildings to look like the chrystaline structures of planet Krypton?

ward andrews 06 Jul 05

the buildings and their composition have a lot of character, i like the attempt to break away from the straight lines that dominate city scapes. it seems to make a lot of sense for an arena district to convey energy, motion and excitement through the exterior structure.

Art Wells 06 Jul 05

What is the difference between a “small team” and a “committee”? At first the language of this post had me wondering if they we just two labels for the same thing.

In my experience the difference appears as a difference in the trust of individual judgement. The team creates solutions freely and checks solutions against constraints, while the committee must authorize each step forward beginning with restraints. I suppose this can be seen on a smaller scale as the difference between and artist and the mediocre individual.

Mike 06 Jul 05

Is it just me or do others think Frank Gehry’s signature look has ran its course. I work 4 blocks from Millenium Park in Chicago, which features the new Gehry-designed bandshell. There is nothing unique about it, he’s done this design variation everywhere from Bilbao to Toledo, Ohio. It’s old. Twenty years from now when everyone has a Gehry-designed building, where will the uniqueness be? Calatrava or Koolhaas are vastly more skilled and interesting.

unconvinced 06 Jul 05

Mike: exactly! What’s “unformulaic” about formulaic Gehry? Move on, already. Build something new. It’s all window-dressing anyway — there’s nothing about Gehry designs which makes the buildings more usable for the tenants — so give us something new. Gehry’s team knows more about building out-of-square than anyone else in the world. Give us something new.

found elsewhere 06 Jul 05

“When your sole criterion for the quality of urban fabric is the level of ‘tension’ it brings, you spend a lot of time waxing moronic about buildings that ‘undulate.’” —unattributed, but apropos.

Eloy Anzola 06 Jul 05

One shouldn’t create without understanding context.

Gehry’s plans are a good example of what happens when you work in isolation.

Living a few blocks from where the arena will be built, I was very excited that Gehry would design it. The first drafts looked fantastic. This design is a complete disappointment, it completely disregards it surroundings.

I believe the motivator here is money and legacy.

The design is a complete breakdown of urban planning. A failure of architecture.

… as mentioned, Calatrava, Koolhas, perhaps Tshumi — who is a New Yorker — would have been a better fit.

Darrel 06 Jul 05

That’s what I was wondering. The post seemed to criticize ‘forumlaic’ architecture, but you can’t get much more formulaic than Gehry’s ‘toss it in the air and see where it lands’ methedology.

chuck Moore 06 Jul 05

I have a lot more respect for things like this that actually accomplish something new (if it gets built anyway!).

Ray 06 Jul 05

The emperor has no clothes! Look at this silly stuff that passes for architecture! Study instead the nurturing, vibrant and human-scale public spaces through history. Those are the places that have the true patterns of architecture that appeal to and sustain the human sense, not this mish-mash of lopsided walls and facades.

Dan Boland 06 Jul 05

Looks like if someone modeled a city after Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

pk 06 Jul 05

i’m a huge fan of his early work. but his more recent stuff, especially the pritzker pavilion in chicago, leaves me really cold.

the pritzker pavilion itself seems poorly thought. the performance space is simply stuffed into the curves, and the back is a jumble of scaffolding arms. it’s horrible from the back.=. it looks like the only thing considered was the petals.

i must say though, the pritzker grounds are pretty magnificent. the implication of a ceiling over the grass adds an element of comfort.

The Lorax is Dead 06 Jul 05

My, my, how everyone is jumping on the “I hate Gehry” bandwagon.” How, er, formulaic.

There is much more to a building than its exterior and Gehry, like many great architects, understands that. Certainly, he’s no William McDonough but his designs definitely take human emotion and needs into account… You may not agree with the result, but hey, it’s architecture not physics!

ek 06 Jul 05

ward andrews wrote:
it seems to make a lot of sense for an arena district to convey energy, motion and excitement through the exterior structure.
I think part of the reason why a lot of the locals are against this plan is that they don’t want the area to become an “arena district,” but a neighborhood.

The Lorax is Deadwrote:
You may not agree with the result, but hey, it�s architecture not physics!
The thing is, it’s not just architecture — a project on this scale is urban planning. If these things go up they’re going to stay up for a very long time, whether they function well or horribly, and they will have a profound and lasting impact on the immediate area and the entire borough.

And, viewed from that perspective, what I don’t like about this plan is that it seems to want to try to fit Brooklyn into the mold of Manhatten when, for most Brooklynites, the primary appeal of the borough is that it has its own flavor, distinct from its glitzier and more glamorous neighbor across the river.

This quote from City Councilwoman Letitia James, who represents Fort Greene, captures my feelings about the project as it is today (from the New York article linked to above):
“You want to build luxury housing in the middle of a working-class community? Why? Because of our proximity to a transportation hub, because of our proximity to Manhattan. This is really to appeal to Manhattan, to appeal to commuters. This has nothing to do with Brooklyn.”

What seems to have been lost here is any concept of livability, not to mention diversity (of scale, income level, local vs. national retail mix, etc.) and Nicolai Ouroussoff’s glowing assessment of Gehry’s plan seems to me to be troublingly reminiscent of the type of plaudits bestowed upon the Flashiest of Web sites by judges who’ve based their critiques on slides without ever actually having to use the objects of their praise.

Oh, and touching on a recent thread, if this plan were to move forward, 200 - 400 of the neighborhood’s current residents (residents and small businesses) would be displaced via eminent domain.

There’s a lot at stake here and I hope the people in the region take a deeper, more considered look at this plan than people like Ouroussoff, who seem to value the diversion of form over the details of function (hey, what do you expect, he’s from L.A. — ouch, couldn’t resist ;-).

dedi 07 Jul 05

There goes MY bloody neighborhood. *Gag*