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Extell's Gary Barnett Defends Himself, Cantilevers, Tall Towers

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Gary Barnett's extended Extell empire is rising all over New York City, but nowhere with more controversy than on 57th Street. Superscraper One57's ascent is over, apartments are in contract and rentals are leasing, and 217 West 57th, a.k.a. the Nordstrom Tower, is all set to rise 1,423 feet in the air, now that it has secured air rights from neighboring Arts Students League. But that transaction didn't happen without controversy, and then last week, hundreds attended a community discussion and bashed tall towers and their negative neighborhood byproducts, namely, the shadows they cast over Central Park.

Barnett spoke briefly at that forum, but he just took to the Observer (makes sense) and penned an editorial with the subheadline: "Demonizing the wealthy might feel good, but it hurts New York." He lays out the usual pro-development arguments: more jobs, more investment, more tourism, and more money for the city via taxes. He lashes out against NYT critic Michael Kimmelman (a tall-tower detractor) without naming him, and leaves us with the impermeable logic that while people have a right to oppose the way the buildings look, it's nearly impossible to take issue with their economic benefits:

Critics have a right not to like the design of One57, a sinuous sculpture of cascading ribbons of glass on its south facade and a Klimt-like pixilation of glass that changes color and transparency as the sun progresses on its east and west facades. They can inveigh against the Nordstrom building, even though most criticism is based on premature and incomplete drawings and faulty information. ... Disregarding the jobs and other benefits that development brings our city is a brand of elitism that may be fine in the rarefied circles of architectural critics, but has no place in the multidimensional world of public and social policy Touche, Gary. Touche.
· Of Golden Geese and Leaden Critics [NYO]
· All Extell coverage [Curbed]

217 W 57th St

217 West 57th Street, Manhattan, NY 10019