Civil War Era Gem Facing Wrecking Ball

house
When 70 Lefferts Place, the old free-standing woodframe between Grand and Classon, went on the market last Spring, there was considerable speculation and fear in the neighborhood that a developer would buy the house only to tear it down. And indeed, now that the sale has been finalized for $2.4 million, it turns out that this is the old beauty’s fate. From what we hear, the developer who bought the place, Christopher Morris, is planning a full demolition to be followed by a 21-unit condo building. While we’re saddened that this is the case, it was almost inevitable given market forces: here was a 7,000-square-foot house with an extra 11,000 square feet of buildable air rights in an unlandmarked part of town. The house’s only real hope had been for the same person to buy the house and the adjacent vacant lot so that the air rights could be transferred and thus fully utilized. We gather that Morris is planning to try to incorporate some the house’s elements into the new facade. We had the pleasure of seeing the gorgeous staircase and widow’s walk first-hand when it was on the market. Stunning. Mr. Morris has received an invitation to attend the Lefferts Place Community meeting on August 2 to share more details of his plans. At this point, we’d describe the mood of residents as a mix of resignation and cautious optimism. We hope Morris’ heart is in the right place on this one. We’ll be watching closely, that’s for sure.
Stopping to Smell the Roses on Lefferts [Brownstoner] GMAP P*Shark

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  • Does anyone have a plot of land somewhere to relocate this house? Can’t we do something like move it – demolition seems so cruel.

  • Oh, what a shame! I’m kind of surprised that someone who put so much into preserving and renovating their home would sell to someone they know will just tear the house down. But 2.4 is a lot of money, and who knows what their needs and desires are for the rest of their lives? I can’t judge, so I won’t.

    I do wish that someone could move the house to a new site, and preserve the building. It’s expensive, but certainly possible. That’s a much more fitting fate for a gorgeous piece of history, rather than seeing the staircase and other details piecemeal at an overpriced salvage place, or dumped in a dumpster.

  • As for the future of the site, I can only hope that the developer has the good sense and taste to hire a good architect with ideas for designs that complement the neighborhood. Not the Holiday Inn type structure a block or so away.

  • This house is listed, along with the other houses in the area, in the National Register of Historic places as a contributing building to the Clinton Hill South Historic District. Unfortunately, this street is not part of the NYC Landmark district in Clinton Hill.

    This particular house is listed as being build circa 1854 as an Italian Style Villa and is described (in the 1980s filing) as being resided and having its front porch enclosed.

    If it is going to happen, I pray the new structure is high end and tastefully, and contextually, built. I think trying to incorporate the design of the 1854 house could potentially be very odd looking, though I’d have to see the plans. I hope the developer/architect comes to the Lefferts Place Civic Association meeting and has a real discussion with the residents of the block.

    It is really too bad that the developer did not buy the huge empty lot adjacent to this property, thereby avoiding the need for the demolition of this pre-Civil War house.

    Unfortunately, I do not think that being a contributing building in a district listed in the National Register of Historic Places presents any legal impediment on demolition or alteration.

  • Not to be nitpicky on the details, but this house is supposedly a tad under 7000 square feet right now. The lot size is 65 x 120, and in an R6 zone that allows you to build at a 2.43 FAR, which means they will be able to build 18,954 square feet. Since there is no height limit in R6 zones, I wouldn’t be surprised if the new building they build here will be 10, or even 12 stories.

    It would be cool if they could include this facade somehow in the new building, but I doubt that’s going to happen.

  • If we keeping tearing down buildings like this and putting up ugly condos…what’s brooklyn going to look like? isn’t it ironic that the thing that attracts people to brooklyn is also what’s being destroyed?

  • This house is the crown jewel of Lefferts Place and it would be travesty if it was destroyed. I hope it’s moved as well. The blue Victorian at 96 Lefferts was sold to a developer too but no plans have been filed as of yet. I’m certain that it will probably suffer a similar fate. This is truly unfortunate. The omission of brownstone blocks south of Fulton St. from the Historic Distric (e.g., St. James and Lefferts Place) was a huge mistake on the part of Landmark Preservation. God knows what montrosities developers will build on these streets since the area is straddled by Fulton and Atlantic, both of which are scheduled to be up zoned in 2007.

  • The upzoning of Fulton and Atlantic is actually quite moderate, and is in tandem with the downzoning of blocks like Lefferts Place (height restrictions – making it R6B) which is a good thing.

  • This is a crime. Landmarks has made some real blunders. Welcome to beautiful Brooklyn!

  • Also, while I think this is a nice house with historical value, I don’t know if I’d call it the “Crown Jewel” in its current state. The renovation or “restoration” looks a bit tacky. The original porch was enclosed, it has cheap looking upside down lights on the front etc.

    However, I am very upset with these plans and wish there was a way to preserve this building. There is no demo permit in place. We should consider getting Landmarks to do an expedited review to landmark it maybe…

    As for the blue wood frame house, number 96, mentioned above. That is the one of oldest house in the district(right around 1850-51 I think), a few years earlier than this place. An architect lived in 96 who designed the five story row houses adjacent to 96 (#s 98 adn 100 I think).

  • It is not inherently problematic or “bad” to demolish old buildings and build new structures. in NYC circa 2006 a mid-19th century Italianate mansion is not necessarily the “best” structure in which to live. We need to not only fetishize past architectural and design achievments, but also be forward-thinking. The only problem I see is that the developer will most likely not seek to create something modern that is equally beautiful or thoughtfull as what already exists here. But new buildings like what Richard Meier is doing over at Grand Army Plaza for instance should be embraced. Older buildings are not inherently better buildings.

  • Fair enough Marcy, but this house it not an anomoly on an otherwise unattractive block. This building and all of the others on the blocks of Lefferts Place, Brevoort Place, Classon, Grand Avenue, Saint James and Washington between Fulton and Atlantic were listed in the National Register of Historic Places because of the historical and architectural significance. There is a large empty lot adjacent to this yellow house that would be great for developement. It is too back the developer could not, or did not, get his hands on that as opposed to this building.

    Lefferts Place in particular has some of the largest freestanding houses and brownstones/rowhouses in the area. It is a real shame it was not included in the Landmarked District as it is, for the most part, a continuous stretch of 1850s to 1890s rowhouses and freestanding houses, some of which were designed by known developers who also built buildings current NYC landmarked districts.

  • Marcy, I don’t think old houses are always better houses, but historical houses such as this one are few and far between here in New York City. In Brooklyn, particularly, architectural diversity is what makes the borough so unique, and part of what makes specific neighborhoods desirable to live in. This house IS the jewel of Lefferts Place, run down or not. How many places have a large, beautiful, free standing home dating from the mid 1800′s? Clinton Hill is one of the few places to boast more than one, and each of them adds to the character of the neighborhood. Why must we always tear down the significant in order to built the mundane?

  • Older buildings are not inherently better buildings.”
    No they aren’t Marcy2Hollywood, but generally speaking the ones that have lasted are better built.
    The problem with most so called modern architecture, your Richard Meir included is, like modern so called art, they go for shock and sensationalism which is interesting to look at until the novelty wears off – and it wears off rather quickly…take modern architecture from the 60s and 70s 90% of it has not stood the test of time – it’s ugly to look at.
    As with painting that’s not to say there aren’t great living architects but most of the ones that get press and publicity are frauds, like Frank Ghery.

  • sorry for the typos…

    It may be too late for this building, but I think a push to extend the landmarked district of Clinton Hill the the Clinton Hill South Historic District, along with the pending downzoning to RB6, would be a good idea and something that should be discussed at the next Lefferts Place Civic Association and/or Clinton Hill Society meeting.

  • 1847/11:48 AM: How did you learn that no demo permit has yet been filed? I’m interested in closely tracking the progress of this project for the kind of funnybusiness–illegal construction, code and zoning violations, environmental damage, etc.–we’ve been seeing so much of during the current real estate development gold rush. Where is this kind of information available? I’m new to all this, so any info or tips would be very welcome.
    Thanks.

  • I wish I were as articulate as some of the other posters here who so clearly stated what is so important about preserving our architectural heritage. All I can say when I think of this beautiful old house being torn down is what a heartbreak. There’s a reason these buildings have stood for so long. they have lasting power for numerous reasons and like dreadnaught says, 90% of modern architecture doesn’t. I think part of the reason is that older buildings were designed differently in intent. They were designed as social/cultural statements (of both the architect and the client- ie. the Woolworth building, they were designed to be pleasing to the eye and they were designed first and foremost to be lived in and used by real live people. Most modern architecture today goes up designed to be built under budget constraints, be an ego statement by the architect, and basically designed to fit all the parameters before they are designed for people. Seems as we get further and further away from the early 20th century, the buildings get weirder, uglier, less well designed and less people oriented. Well, that’s my take on it anyway. Someday we’ll look around Brooklyn and see nothing but fedders and the corpse brides of Gehry.

  • i had close friends who lived in this building (1st floor apt on the left side) for many years before moving overseas. the building is pretty stunning, pierced plaster crown moldings, stained glass and tiled fireplaces. the only real downside was the concrete backyard with a view of the white castle on atlantic. i can imagine that it is a total pain to keep up, a very large house with tons of details. will be a true shame if it is demolished. i can’t imagine that a building this large could be easily transported….

  • Well, I definitely agree that its a shame to rip down something that is well-built and historically significant only to build in its place a mundane structure, which i’m afraid will definitely happen here. I do disagree, however, that much of the modernism from the 50′s, 60′s and 70′s has not withstood the test of time. Its a matter of taste, and unfortunately NYC is not filled with nearly as many outstanding examples of modernism as some other cities are fortunate enough to boast (like L.A. and Chicago) but the Seagram’s building in midtown or the UN building on the eastside, have always been and are still inherently beautiful buildings. The past was great, but things must continually move forward. I think I’ve gotten slightly off-topic here because we all agree that in this instance the old structure is most likely preferable. I guess I just hijacked the thread a bit to try to point out that we have a tendency to overvalue older structures and antiquities and shun progress, IMHO. Change is inevitable, but what I think really should be done is that we should demand (and enforce) higher architectural standards in new construction so that all of Brooklyn doesn’t become Scarano’s banal vision, or lack thereof.

  • Well said Marcy. I think you just got peoples’ hackles up because this is a preserved, for the most part, 19th century streetscape.

    DC, if you go to http://www.nyc.gov, then to the Buildings Department, then to the Buildings Information System (BIS) you can look up properties, see what permits are pending or issued etc.

    It will not give you details of construction plans, but will tell you, to the extent it is up to date, whether permits have been issued etc.

  • “or the UN building on the eastside, have always been and are still inherently beautiful buildings.”

    marcy have you ever been to UN plaza up close – in a sense this isn’t ‘hijacking’ the thread – it goes back to the fundamental problem with most modern architecture and this style of urban planning that’s effecting Brooklyn- the area around UN plaza is dead space like the area around the world trade center, and of course Ratner’s handiwork in Brooklyn like Metrotech.
    I will again assert that the examples you have given may be interesting to look at (from a distance) but not to live in or around. The organic growth Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods, on the other hand are pleasing to both look at and live in. I have yet to see a recent construction building in Brooklyn that is pleasing to the eye…if there are living architects that can match or surpass the previous ones, then I am all for it. As Bx2Bklyn said archietects these days are more concerned with ego statements.
    BTW have you ever read Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House….I would suggest it.

  • If true, the buyer/developer deserves to have his/her fingernails pulled out slowly. Stupid, soulless, greedy bugger. Whatever its imperfections, this is more than a house–it is part of a shrinking and irreplaceable legacy of Brooklyn’s past. For the love of God, why not buy something crappy and unremarkable and demolish THAT? If you put this in a movie (say, with a villainous, cretinous condo developer played by Christopher Walken), the critics would decry the easy cliches. We’ve spent 20 years, mostly broke, trying to restore a wooden pile far less aesthetically and historically significant as this one. Some days, that makes me feel like a sucker. Today, it makes me proud.

  • Dreadnaught,

    Of course I have been to UN. Many of the interior spaces are even more remarkable than the exterior, btw. In regard to this building there are security concerns and other planning issues that affect that whole eastside of NYC and make it a difficult place to navigate. I have to say that you have a superficial understanding of Modernism to make the comparisons you do. You cannot lump Metrotech (or the WTC) in with a Mies Van der Rohe designed building (The Seagram’s) or a Niemeyer/Corbusier collaboration (The UN). There’s simply no comparison; those buildings are as different from Metrotech as this Italianate mansion in Clinton Hill is from an Italianate McMansion in New Jersey.

    The Brownstone areas in BK are indeed pleasing to look at and live in, but it is not the only pleasant way to live. Brooklyn has only recently begun to catch the eye of truly cutting edge contemporary architects. The Richard Meier building will be the first that I am aware of to be built by a capable modern architect. And while I don’t know that Ghery’s stadium design really fits in BK, there is no doubt that he is a first rate architect as well. His work in LA is perfect for the surrounding areas.

    I have not read this book by Tom Wolfe, but I am very familiar with the Bauhaus movement, which has produced many, many worthy buildings around the world. Bottom line, in a modern world, we need a modern design language. It is inappropriate in 2006 to build as we built in 1906 or 1856. And while it is valuable to preserve some of these buildings (this one I agree should be preserved) it makes no sense to continue to ape these designs in contemporary construction.

    Have you ever seen a building desinged by Herzog and de Meuron or Tadao Ando? You cannot generalize about all Modern (which is a period from the past now too, btw) and contermporary design.

  • Since we’re in agreement re the unfortunate demolition plans in this instance, let’s not get into an argument. I think everyone can appreciate fine architecture from different eras, and understand the desire to preserve fine architecture where it does exist, whenever it was built.

    Since we all seem to agree that the demolition of this building represents the destruction of something significant, let’s not give each other a hard time.

  • For the record, I spend a lot of time on South Portland Ave in Fort Greene and absolutely love brownstones. They’re beautiful. But there are many forms of beauty. You cannot tell me this is some ugly crap you would hate to live in!: http://www.40bond.com/hdem.html

    Brooklyn needs some of this!

  • For the record, I spend a lot of time on South Portland Ave in Fort Greene and absolutely love brownstones. They’re beautiful. But there are many forms of beauty. You cannot tell me this is some ugly crap you would hate to live in!: http://www.40bond.com/hdem.html

    Brooklyn needs some ugly crap like this!

  • “And while I don’t know that Ghery’s stadium design really fits in BK, there is no doubt that he is a first rate architect as well. His work in LA is perfect for the surrounding areas.”

    You call this perfect:
    http://www.boingboing.net/2005/03/02/gehry_fries_pedestri.html“>Gehry Building Fries eggs!
    Gehry fries pedestrians, eggs with solar death ray Sunlight reflected from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles has “roasted the sidewalk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, enough to melt plastic and cause serious sunburn to people standing on the street”. The fix: dull the building’s highly reflective surface. Or — meep-meep! Paging mister Christo! Need some orange curtains over here.

    http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/Midwest/03/01/offbeat.school.building.ap/“> $62M building imperil sidewalks
    Case Western takes precautions with Gehry’s sloping roof

    I will again say that in ten years, after the novelty wears off, his buildings will be an eyesore. And to anyone who doesn’t get their opinions spoonfed from the New York times, they already are. BTW have you ever seen his home in santa monica? google it. it literally looks like something in a trailer park. The man is a fraud.

    “I have to say that you have a superficial understanding of Modernism”

    No Marcy, I don’t. I ‘get it’ i studied architecture as an undergrad and currently study art – you know the kind where you actually have to be able to render the human figure?…I just think it’s crap. My eyes don’t lie to me. Critics like abstract art for example because they control the meaning of it. I like buildings you can look at, not talk about.

    “You cannot lump Metrotech (or the WTC) in with a Mies Van der Rohe designed building (The Seagram’s) or a Niemeyer/Corbusier collaboration (The UN)”

    I can lump them quite easily marcy – the fail the litmus test that i noted the areas around them (the seagram excepted) are dead space. the WTC design broke up the street pattern and destroyed a vibrant market that was NYs ‘covent garden”.

  • The only good thing that will come out of this building’s demise is, perhaps, a broader awareness and community focus on landmarking this portion of Clinton Hill. A rallying point, like the 1960′s demolition of Penn Station which, like this building, suffered from being “merely” a civic landmark.

  • “For the record, I spend a lot of time on South Portland Ave in Fort Greene and absolutely love brownstones. They’re beautiful. But there are many forms of beauty. You cannot tell me this is some ugly crap you would hate to live in!: http://www.40bond.com/hdem.html

    Well Marcy, I do think it’s ugly crap (we obviously have different tastes, but for the record I haven’t accused you of being superficial, as you have me). A building like that would be out of place.

    Let’s take the example of Nantucket…or a cotswold village – the beauty of them is in variation of buildings but all within a certain style – what would building a structure like the one you listed do to those communities? so it goes for brownstone neigborhoods, IMO

  • I guess we just will have to agree to disagree, dreadnaught. However, regardless of what I think, the world is going to continue to modernize. All things being equal, if I had the millions to live in a pristine Brownstone or a new Meier or Herzog & de Meuron apartment, I’m really not sure what I’d choose (if I did live in the b’stone, though, the interior would not be a period restoration. I want Cappelini in the living room). However, I’m glad that in 2006 there is that choice in NYC. We don’t dress as though we’re living in 1851, we don’t want our kitchens to be of the 19th century, or our cars, our homes don’t need to be anachronistic either. I don’t understand why architectural progress is not more warmly embraced here as it is in other parts of the world.

    Anyway, as was pointed out before, this is not going to be a Herzog and de Meuron condo complex, I’m sure, so it is lamentable. You spoke of differing philosophies though dreadnaught and whatever the merits, I don’t believe your philosophy is what the future has in store for NYC.

  • How about buildings that:
    a. use natural and earth friendly materials?
    b. incorporate/factor in the surrounding area…do you really think someone like Gehry is even competent if he doesn’t factor in snow in Cincinnati or sun in Los Angeles?
    You speak of ‘modernization’ as it if inevitably leads to your aesthetic.
    Gee should we get rid of the farmers markets because Fairway and wal mart are ‘inevitable’.
    on the contrary marcy I believe it is you aesthetics that are on their way out.

  • Marcy- the Ian Schrager site is beautiful, and although it’s not my taste but I do recognize its beauty. Unfortunately most modern buildings always seem to me to be a case of the Emperor’s New Clothes- much like dreadnaught’s dead on comment about critics and Abstract art. When you have to explain a building instead of the building speaking for itself, I think that is a failing of the design.

    A more telling aspect is that so much of the architecture of the past survives and is still in use today. (Not nearly enough, of course, but still). It has an adaptability that much, if not most modern architecture does not, and a human scale that transcends generations. The modern era saw the construction of buildings that were not humanly scaled, hard-edged, and the opposite of natural and organic forms, which human beings evolved within. (sorry- the old anthro degree and stuff). At some point we seem to have passed from designing a building that answers human needs to designing buildings that force people to accept the building’s needs.

    I would use the WTC as a case in point- built to a glorious soaring scale, but the buildings made you feel like an unimportant ant. Much like the natural golden mean that artists use, there comes a point where we overstep what makes us comfortable. It’s the difference between being in a wonderful Gothic Cathedral and the Towers. The Towers and the plaza created a zone of discomfort because the designers didn’t pay attention to the fact that people would actually use the buildings. The Towers were awe-inspiring, beautiful in their way, and ultimately deadly. I don’t have to go into the construction and mechanics of their fall- suffice it to say everything I read seemed to say they designed the Towers to fall (pancake) when I think they should have built them to stand forever. And to some degree, most modern architecture is not build to stand forever- just long enough to fulfill its function. IMHO.

  • Sorry- just wanted to clarify the golden mean comment. It’s a natural proportion that is inherently accepted- when things are not built to that proportion they are uncomfortable for us. I’m not good at explaining eactly what the golden mean is- maybe dreadnaught can help me out here. I’m an artist but a self taught, outsider artist.

  • Bx2Bklyn, I respect what you’re saying. I really think the problem with much contemporary design is that corner’s are cut to maximize profit margins. I believe there was a significant amount of 18th, 19th and 20th century architecture that was poorly and cheaply made and has not survived. What has survived, and is appreciate, has tended to be what was of the best quality.

    Dreadnaught, you say:
    “How about buildings that:
    a. use natural and earth friendly materials?
    b. incorporate/factor in the surrounding area…do you really think”

    Many modern buildings perform both of these functions far better than older buildings ever could. Green architecture is a contemporary movement. 19th century B’sotnes and Victorians are definitely not the most eco-friendly, energy efficient buildings in NYC.

    And in terms of incorporating natural surroundings into the design, this was an inherent goal of the modernist movement. look at the work of Frank Lloyd Wright (Fallingwater?) for evidence of this, or look at Neutra in Los Angeles. Indoor space flows into Outdoor. This was also achieved to an extent with Taniguchi’s new design for MOMA. I don’t understand where you were going with this one…

    I think we’re confusing bad buildings that happen to be recently constructed with Modernist buildings and quality contemporary design, lumping all of them together as one, which is unfair.

  • ….and you’re lumping everything good into modernist – are you telling me a earth friendly cob house is ‘modernist’?

    I like FLW’s early stuff, however the giant toliet bowl on fifth avenue is an eyesore.

    “19th century B’sotnes and Victorians are definitely not the most eco-friendly, energy efficient buildings in NYC.”
    not as much as buildings today but many victorians were quite sophisticated in how they could naturally cool or heat a house (opening certain windows to create airflow)…and in traditional architecture natural heating and cooling were necessary before air conditioning and gas heating.
    The modernist movements – like steel and glass architecture rejected any of this – flat roofs for example in areas with heavy snow fall – buildings that are like solar ovens without air conditioning (I worked in the sears tower when the air conditioning went off not fun)
    but going back to our neigborhood:
    You say you like portland street what makes it beautiful? what if your Meier or Herzog & de Meuron aparments were scattered throughout the block? it would no longer look as beautiful because part of the beauty is how all the buildings look together – and thats what modernist you espouse don’t factor in.
    you claim they incorporate natural surroundings – I also meant the architecture around the site as well.
    Bx2Bklyn , funny you mention that, I just read a book last year about it…a bit tedious but it goes as far to say its use has been greatly exaggerated – you can fudge the numbers on a parthenon, for example to say they are within the golden mean.
    regarding gothic cathedtrals – or even skyscapers that echoed them, like the woolworth building or chrysler building. i think they give a sense of ‘soaring height’ because of elements that lead the eye up – whereas the big box buildings like the WTC are just, well, big boxes :)

  • marcy- you made a good point about confusion. I think the new PATH station- if it get built according to the original design- will be an incredible addition. The Freedom Tower-not so much. But I think there is a point to be made- and dreadnought does – that things like incorporating natural materials and the environment into modern buildings, although they may be part of the intellectual structure of Modernism, in reality it isn’t often done. So you get showpieces like Neutra, then you get the Fedders that pop up like weeds. Most buildings today- even when they are extreme looking, always seem to me to be watered down expressions of “Less is More.” I think that there is a backlash against Modernism- I may be stretching here, but McMansions seem to be the opposite of modern architecture. They want to be Versaille (sp.?) and of course they’re not. McMansions seem to be the trend everywhere- not wonderful houses like Fallingwater. THey’re a nightmare amalgamation of misconstrued Beaux Arte and more is more.

  • There was a thread here (or on the Forum) recently were someone questioned the value of designation as an Historic District (because, IIRC, it would make it difficult or impossible for him to add a floor to a house he was considering buying). This sad story is an example of why designation is SO important.

  • “I respect what you’re saying. I really think the problem with much contemporary design is that corner’s are cut to maximize profit margins. I believe there was a significant amount of 18th, 19th and 20th century architecture that was poorly and cheaply made and has not survived. What has survived, and is appreciate, has tended to be what was of the best quality…”

    Is New York a better place because of the ‘new’ Penn station? What was the saying – people used to enter New York like Gods…now they enter it like rats.

    Marcy, I am curious…do you support the AY development?

  • There was a thread here (or on the Forum) recently where someone questioned the value of designation as an Historic District (because, IIRC, it would make it difficult or impossible for him to add a floor to a house he was considering buying). This sad story is an example of why designation is SO important.

  • regarding the ‘freedom tower’ I think its a lousy design for that area…while i don’t 100% agree with this design, it did a lot of what i am talking about – incoporating/factoring in surrounding buidings and bringing back the streets literally wiped out by the WTC project
    http://www.city-journal.org/html/11_4_what_should_rise.html

  • Ahhh… The evils of Gentrification strikes again.

  • I’m not sure what to think of AY yet. My initial reaction a couple of year’s ago was that it would be bad. But now I’m not so sure. That is not a pretty area over there, as it stands now. I don’t particularly like Gehry’s Net’s stadium design. I especially don’t like all the signage and the Net’s Logos everywhere. I do think his residential towers will look cool. I think Metrotech and the Atlantic Center (which were of course Ratner developments) are architectural abominations and I hope the talent of Gehry can prevent something being built that resembles those two disasters.

    All in all, I am not against AY. However, what I am eagerly anticipating is Richard Meier’s new building at Grand Army Plaza and I hope to see more projects like that and like the modernist Fort Greene townhouse I mentioned above interspersed with the architectural gems from the past. In short, I don’t think the best possible Brooklyn would be today’s Brooklyn frozen in time. I think a lot of Architectural progress can still be made, without losing respect for architectural achievements from the past.

  • “I do think his residential towers will look cool. ”

    have you read up on this project? it will make that area of Brooklyn the most densely populated location in the United State, overload sewers and infrastructure, drive out mom and pop business by essentially giving subsidies to big corporations….and all on the taxpayer’s dime

    Plus it uses eminent domain, and destroys several historically significant buildings. Have you really given this serious thought? its the worst sort of big developer urban ‘planning’ around.
    “The Municipal Art Society of New York
    But in its present form, the Forest City Ratner plan does not work for Brooklyn. To work, the project’s design, size and scale should be altered to fit with …
    http://www.mas.org/

    you keep responding with slogans about the past being frozen and no one here is advocating that. But as mentioned progress doesn’t inevitably lead to your modernsist. and again, you honestly think Portland street would look better inter dispersed with modernist buildings rather than in its present form?

  • PS
    I have posted some pretty clear examples of Gehry’s incompetance…do you really want him designing the largest building in Brooklyn? I think it is an obnoxious eyesore….and look what happens to neighorhoods around his crap -ooops- buildings:
    http://www.pps.org/info/ppsnews/brooklyn_essay
    An ad highlights Gehry’s Düsseldorf buildings to symbolize the city’s trendiness…

    …but up close, the only signs of life are the dumpsters. Is this what Brooklyn really wants?

    http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/

  • dude, you need to calm down. your whole tone is too nasty. the problem you are having is that (thankfully) not everyone in NYC or Brooklyn views things the way you do. it is possible to read the facts about AY and simply not reach the same alarmist/reactionary conclusions you have reached. don’t get me wrong, everybody doesn’t have to love AY, but your reactionary response is offputting. you would like to control every aspect of a neighborhood or possibly a borough and have it fit your aesthetic. i like south portland ave a lot. i don’t think that every building is a beautiful building on the block. a beautiful modernist townhouse that uses similar materials and makes allusions to its surroundings would not be unwelcome in my book.

    back to AY, i don’t really have a problem with a very dense area.

    and the eminent domain issue is not a real big problem from what i can tell. if you owned a property in that area and you sold to Ratner, you did VERY well for yourself and quite possibly got rich. again, i’m not an AY advocate, so please don’t paint me that way. i just don’t a priori hate the project the way you do. and i will say this, if it would serve to increase the property values at one hanson place, then i am partial to its success.

  • “the problem you are having is that (thankfully) not everyone in NYC or Brooklyn views things the way you do. it is possible to read the facts about AY and simply not reach the same alarmist/reactionary conclusions you have reached”

    Umm the Municipal Arts society has reached that conclusion, the ESD own study reached that conclusion, and just about every prominent urban planner and architect who is not on Ratner’s payroll has reached that conclusion. Again it doesn’t sound like you have really read up on this, and we really can’t have a discussion on it unless you have
    http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/

    “and the eminent domain issue is not a real big problem from what i can tell.”

    i’ll just let that stand on itself.

    “you would like to control every aspect of a neighborhood”

    you’re having a discussion with your impression of me, not me, (and you accuse me of being nasty – you’ve called my views superficial and simple simply because they didn’t agree with yours..I post clear examples of Gehry’s incompetence which you have yet to comment on. as for controlling every aspect of a neighborhood that is exactly what Ratner’s project does.

  • I think Gehry is talented but his ego has gotten way way out of hand. More bluntly, I believe great architecture can’t be built without a great architect. And no architect is great if he does not build first and foremost buildings actual for human beings, and for the site they will inhabit. Otherwise they are just futile exercises in imagination. Truly great buildings use those elements and make them reality. Like the Gothic Cathedrals or the Roman Aqueduct.

    Sure the Atlantic Yards are ugly, but they aren’t destroying the surrounding neighborhoods, draining resources and straining utilities. But if Gehry’s plan will. Building for the sake of filling an empty space seems foolish to me, and since the project could be done in much better ways, I wonder why the “talented” Gehry hasn’t figured out how.

    What was both amazing and heartbreaking about the Towers was that after they were destroyed, the remains themselves were such powerful architectural statements. They were an iconic statement about loss, politics and spirituality. Like a ruined Gothic Cathedral. Maybe we just needed to see them that way, but the Towers spoke much more eloquently after their destruction than when they were whole. Still, if it could bring everyone back, I’d say build a whole slew of them.

    At the risk of bringing down much ridicule on my head, I will say I thought the Libeskind design was wonderful-although I didn’t like his individual building designs.I agree with you about the Freedom Tower, dreadnaught. The problem with the Tower is that it is a political statement driving the design.

    I agree with Dreadnaught about Portland St. too. It is the architecture that creates the wonderful neighborhoods we live in. Once the character of these older neighborhoods are destroyed, that’s it.

  • “I agree with Dreadnaught about Portland St. too. It is the architecture that creates the wonderful neighborhoods we live in. Once the character of these older neighborhoods are destroyed, that’s it.”

    Amen! Its what made Brooklyn attractive in the first place – that’s why these neigborhoods revitalized and are attractive and developers destroy the neighborhood’s character and at the same time sell the buiding based on the idea that its in a ‘charming historic district’(with the exception of the crap we just erected..
    Think of the literally thousands of buildings dozens of neigborhoods destroyed by robert moses’s schemes – this is just an updated version of that, along with some Tammany hall level corruption.

  • Ok ok Now back to the “Civil War Gem”: This is so depressing–Does anyone have this developer’s contact info? Is there anything we can do about this?! A shaming campaign? (not that developers have any sense of shame or propriety)

  • “A shaming campaign?”
    Ba ha ha good one angyou! Developers are right up there with personal injury lawyers in the ethics department. I suspect as with the dot com bubble – the current real estate bubble there’s so much quick money to be made that people start to break more and more rules and basic principles – a friend who lives in miami tells me developers repeatedly raze landmarked buildings and accept the fine as a cost of doing business.