Sunday, January 15, 2006


The Observer inflates a Gehry reference, invents "Atlantic Yards terminal"

In a 1/16/06 New York Observer article headlined Life Getting Hot For Architect Rafael Viñoly, an offhand reference to architect Frank Gehry and the Atlantic Yards project contained two mistakes.

The article stated: The case sheds light on an issue that has dogged architecture firms that attempt massive and politically difficult urban projects, while at the same time attempting to deliver state-of-the-art design.
Witness Mr. Libeskind’s increasing marginalization at Ground Zero, or the recent shouting match from which architect Frank Gehry absented himself over the weekend over his plans for the Atlantic Yards terminal.

Shouting match?

There was no "shouting match" at the 1/7/06 Times Talk session; Gehry was faced with some respectful but persistent questioners about the Atlantic Yards project, and at one point cut off the questions.

Another Observer reporter, who actually attended the session and wrote it up for The Real Estate blog, described "a handful of jeers" in response to a Gehry statement. Ok, but I think it was more like a spontaneous correction. The reporter also stated that Brooklynites "hurled questions" at Gehry; again, that's somewhat overstated, but even at that, no shouting match.

Atlantic Yards terminal?

More significantly, there's no such thing as "the Atlantic Yards terminal." There's the Atlantic Terminal, which refers to a mall, a transit hub for subways and the Long Island Railroad, and a longstanding urban renewal area. The 8.3-acre railyard just east of that is called the Vanderbilt Yard by the MTA. Atlantic Yards does not exist; it is the name of Forest City Ratner's proposed (and evolving) 22-acre project that would include the railyard and adjacent streets, industrial buildings, vacant lots, homes, and businesses.

Errors like this may spread when reporters work outside their range of expertise. The reporter on the Viñoly story works on the Observer's politics desk, not the real estate desk, whose reporters have provided more solid coverage of the project.

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