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Ouroussoff: Hope for Atlantic Yards, Not So Much for Midtown

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For those keeping score, New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff loved Frank Gehry's Barclays Center and hated Ellerbe Beckett's Barclays Center. And on Round 3 of the Nets arena at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards megaproject?unveiled yesterday with Manhattan architecture firm SHoP now on the team?Ouroussoff (drumroll please) is intrigued. He calls it an improvement on the hanger design he so eloquently savaged and says Atlantic Yards "may even be worth saving." A ringing endorsement! Well, not quite.

Wile Big Nic appreciates that Gehry's ideas on glass and peek-a-boo views were resuscitated in this latest design, the arena "still falls short of the high architectural standards" the city was promised when developer Bruce Ratner first brought aboard the Gehrmeister. Plus, with Atlantic Yards' 16 towers now planned in phases, there's no indication the project will look like a cohesive unit. To sum up: a lukewarm reaction (for some arena name-calling, the Post quotes a few good ideas. Battlestar Gallactica!). Oh, and those looking for an Ouroussoff takedown, don't fret?the man was just saving up his energy.

In a second story in today's paper, Ouroussoff weighs in on yesterday's decision by the City Planning Commission to reduce the size of Jean Nouvel's Museum of Modern Art-adjacent skyscraper by 200 feet. The decapitation of Tower Verre?aka 53 West 53rd Street, MoMA Tower, etc.?was a result of the commission not deeming Nouvel's tower worthy of sharing the Empire State Building's airspace, especially because it found the proposed 1,250-foot tower's crown to be, well, ugly. To Ouroussoff, this decision is a dart to the balloon that is New York's ego:

Still, the notion of treating the Midtown skyline as a museum piece is more disturbing. The desire of each new generation of architects and builders to leave its mark on the city, to contribute its own forms, is essential to making New York what it is. The soaring height and slender silhouette of Mr. Nouvel's tower not only captured the spirit of Midtown — the energy and hubris that transformed this island into a monument to American cosmopolitanism — it also brought that spirit forcefully into the present.And on a slightly smaller scale than the destruction of our once-proud metropolis, Ouroussoff argues the reduction in square-footage will lead to cuts in the design budget and the use of cheaper materials. Folks, don't hassle the Off.
· New Yards Design Draws From the Old [NYT]
· Off With Its Top! City Cuts Tower to Size [NYT]
· Barclays Center coverage [Curbed]
· 53 West 53rd Street coverage [Curbed]

Tower Verre

53 West 53rd Street, New York, NY

Barclays Center

Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

53 W 53rd St

53 West 53rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019