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EXCLUSIVE: Gehry to Brooklyn Paper: Miss Brooklyn ain’t dead — in fact, she’s hotter than ever

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Atlantic Yards architect Frank Gehry told The Brooklyn Paper Thursday night that his “Miss Brooklyn” tower at Atlantic Yards is not dead.

In an exclusive interview, he told The Paper that not only will it be built, but it will “look better than anyone imagines.”

Gehry admitted that developer Bruce Ratner has struggled to find an anchor tenant for the 511-foot iconic, shimmering glass-walled skyscraper.

But Gehry quickly added: “Bruce will have a tenant soon — and then he’ll begin construction.”

The Miss Brooklyn tower, proposed for the corner of Atlantic and Flatbush avenues, would be the gateway to Ratner’s ailing Atlantic Yards project, which once called for 16 skyscrapers, a basketball arena and 6,800 units of housing, but has since been trimmed back to two or three buildings, the arena and hundreds of apartments.

Whatever shape Miss Brooklyn finally takes, it will no longer include a hotel component, Gehry said.

Gehry’s comments come two weeks after Ratner admitted that he was having trouble finding an anchor tenant for Miss Brooklyn, telling the New York Times that he “won’t build” the tower without such a tenant.

But if Ratner gets a tenant, Gehry said, his design is “better than ever.”

“We’ve made some adjustments that people will absolutely love,” he said. “This is the part of the process I enjoy — tinkering, making things better.”

Gehry suggested that he was disappointed by Ratner’s comments to the Times two weeks ago, in which the developer admitted that he cannot build the bulk of Atlantic Yards because of the current economic downturn.

“He really does want to build it [all]” Gehry said. “But he can’t get the financing. I don’t know why he would tell the papers that, but it is true.”

Gehry spoke with The Brooklyn Paper during the Brooklyn Museum’s annual gala, where Ratner was given the Augustus Graham Medal, an award that honors a Museum patron.

Outside the Eastern Parkway art institute, hundreds of protestors started gathering at around 6:30 pm to greet more than 1,000 Museum supporters as they entered for cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres of miso-marinated cod and spicy taro with caviar.

Celebrities including designer Marc Jacobs and tennis legend John McEnroe were also on hand.

Protesters condemned the Museum’s decision to honor Ratner, some holding signs reading, “Con Artist” and, in a particularly nifty bit of memory, “Dung Deal,” a reference to the Museum’s 1999 controversy over its “Sensation” exhibition, which featured a painting of the Virgin Mary adorned with elephant dung.

Joining the protesters was former city Department of Environmental Protection commissioner Marilyn Gelber.

Referring to the protesters outside, Borough President Markowitz — a major support of Atlantic Yards — smiled and said, “It shows that this is a great country.”

In his acceptance speech hours later, Ratner did not mention Atlantic Yards, but merely said that he was honored to accept an award that “represents the essence” of what he does as a developer, namely, building with “a social purpose and responsibility.”

By the time he started speaking, at around 10:15 pm, there were no protesters left out front.

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Reader Feedback

Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
I want to share with people the “quotes through the ages about `honor’" I was reading last night- . . .
. . . .It seems to me that when “honors” are handed out at grand events the use of time-tested quotes is a tradition worth observing.

I hope the quotes below are choicely apt (they were also on placards at the event):

"Nobody can acquire honor by doing what is wrong"
Thomas Jefferson

"Dignity does not consist in possessing honors, but in deserving them."
Aristotle

"Those who give, hoping to be rewarded with honor, are not giving, they are bargaining"
Philo Judaeus

"Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you"
Lao Tzu

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud."
Sophocles

"The most tragic thing in the world is a man of genius who is not a man of honor"
George Bernard Shaw

"He has honor if he holds himself to an ideal of conduct though it is inconvenient, unprofitable, or dangerous to do so."
Walter Lippman

"Honor sinks where commerce long prevails."
Oliver Goldsmith

"One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how thoroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them"
Thomas Sowell

"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
April 4, 2008, 8:01 pm
Michael D. D. White from Brooklyn Heights says:
I’d also like to note that I think the Brooklyn Museum still has a debt to pay to the community over this event so I do not view the matter as entirely at rest.

I refer people to my open letter to the Museum. It was not designed as a “petition” (it is personal, and it isn’t short or written in vague consensus-generating bromides) but it is something that people are signing on to endorse. Though it’s only been publicly available a few days it has over a hundred endorsements so far. I think there is value to continue collecting endorsements just as I think there would be value for there to be days when we are again outside the Museum to collect signatures and acquaint and educate Museum attendees about the rectification I believe the Museum now owes to the community with respect to this matter.

The letter, for those who want to sign on as endorsers or to it or pass it along to others is at:

http://www.dddb.net/php/reading/MuseumLetter.php
April 4, 2008, 8:02 pm
miles from windsor terrace says:
have there been any inquiries into the state of the property where "Miss Brooklyn" and the arena and whatever else they build? is this property a 'brownfeild'?

are there environmental issues taken into consideration yet? or are we still just talking about the plan and the tenants?
April 8, 2008, 9:58 pm

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