One voice that has yet to weigh in on NYU 2031, the university's major expansion plan: Greenwich Village lifer and newish Times archicritic Michael Kimmelman. But it's not too late. In fact, Kimmelman weighed in on the NYU plan in a piece that hit the Times site yesterday. Kimmelman's memories of his Village childhood and NYU's place in it are woven throughout the piece: "This sort of meeting felt like home, in the neighborhood where I had grown up in a cheerful culture of endless protest at a time when N.Y.U. was not yet one of the biggest and most ambitious private universities in the country but still a modest school proudly catering to working New Yorkers like my mother and Ruth." So it's not surprising that he isn't 100 percent on board with NYU's plans. Nor is he one of the sign-carrying protestors. Instead, he has a few suggestions for NYU, on the grounds that "the billions of dollars that the project would cost suggest the university would be hard pressed to build half of what it’s outlining." Those suggestions:
1) The city should say no to the towers planned for Washington Square Village (now faculty housing), and ask instead for open space accessible to Village residents (with subterranean classrooms, perhaps). "Make the whole thing a gift from the university to the neighborhood from which the school draws so much of its marketing muscle," Kimmelman urges. Of course, the Villagers might still feel like returning the gift to sender.
2) Kimmelman also thinks NYU should be allowed to replace the rather hideous Coles Sports & Recreation Center with the proposed zipper building?but the zipper should be smaller than planned and include additional amenities for the public.
3) NYU should be allowed to go forward with its proposed dorm and school at Bleecker and LaGuardia Place, even if the resulting project would be, er, different from the corner's current aesthetic.
Kimmelman remains concerned about the ultimate design of these buildings: NYU "has an unfortunate knack for commissioning some of the worst work from big-name architects?so everything will finally depend on vigilant oversight of the architectural details." For sure, Villagers can do vigilance. But can an archicritic, even a Village native, broker peace here?
· It Riles a Village [NYT]
· NYU 2031 coverage [Curbed]
· Michael Kimmelman coverage [Curbed]