Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card #21: Avoidance of Harmful Gigantic Outdoor Advertising? NO

This is evaluation item #21 (of 47) of the Jane Jacobs Atlantic Yards Report Card

Avoidance of Harmful Gigantic Outdoor Advertising? NO

(A fifteen story sign- bigger than these in Times Square- illuminated and animated in the middle of the brownstone neighborhoods of Prospect Heights and Fort Greene. Click to ENLARGE- if you dare.)

Jane Jacobs was unusually tolerant of what ought to be permitted in an urban environment but goes out of her way to say that except in very unusual situations very large billboards and signage is destructive because they are visually disorganizing to streets, and overly dominating. The Atlantic Yards proposal involves illuminated (changeable and perhaps animated) electronic signage of up to 150 feet,- That is billboards 15 stories tall- and to accomplish putting these signs in the middle of historic brownstone neighborhoods would override local regulations which would normally, in such an area, be stricter than usual to prevent such signage. No sports facility in the city has similarly huge signage. In what should be interpreted as a tacit admission that this signage is objectionable and inappropriate, the Ratner organization’s project publicity always depicts the megadevelopment with the signs missing from where they would be seen. Various respected organizations have gone out of their way to object to this signage, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Scenic America and the Municipal Art Society.

(Since this was originally written the Frank Gehry designs for Atlantic Yards have been scrapped and replaced by a generic design where the arena would look like an airplane hanger. Other parts of the mega-project design are still unreleased but there has been NO information that the plan for fifteen story illuminated signage has been dropped. Forest City Ratner was previously adamant about not dropping it and government officials were unwilling to require that the signage be disincorporated from the plan. Confusing the issue further is the fact that, as noted, Forest City Ratner doesn’t incorporate the signage in its renderings. Even if and when new renderings come out, the inclusion or exclusion of such signage would not be a reliable indicator of whether it is still planned.)

JJ Cites: [. . . . Usually but not always. What would Times Square be without huge outdoor advertising? P. 234 . . . . Visually, they are disorganizing to streets, and so dominating that it is hard- - sometimes impossible– for any countering sense of order to make much impression. P. 234]

(Below: The new 10-story Atlantic Terrace affordable housing project now being built across the street from the proposed Atlantic Yards site. Atlantic Terrace stands taller than many of the nearby brownstones and other buildings in the neighborhood. The illuminated animated Atlantic Yards signage would be even 50% taller, another looming five stories taller over the Atlantic Terrace project.)

1 comment:

bobbo said...

Jane Jacobs left New York in a hissy fit. She is also dead.