“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently.” ― Bill Watterson
Beauty has a price. And a tremendous one at that. SHoP Architects, the firm behind the Barclays Center in New York City’s Brooklyn, learned this―and not in a totally enthusiastic way―when it unveiled designs for the borough’s tallest structure, upsetting a large swath of New Yorkers in the process. There is no question their building, 9 DeKalb Avenue, is gorgeous, its signature feature being a series of vertical bronze accents, a subtle nod to the historic Brooklyn Dime Savings Bank with which the proposed tower would share part of its footprint.
The issue, however, is not with the building itself, but the precedent it may set and which may set Brooklyn on a development path from which it cannot escape. Local residents are concerned the tower will have long-term, serious consequences on the neighborhood, located between Brooklyn Heights and Bed-Stuy, thereby shifting it from its claim of authenticity to one thriving on purely commercial interests. They do not want the downtown area, and as a natural extension of this, the entire borough, characterized by the overdevelopment of tall, slender buildings, a trend that has gone nearly unabated with its sister borough, Manhattan. Midtown, for example, at Central Park South, has a number of them and the long shadows they cast over the Park, particularly during the shorter daylight hours of Fall and Winter, has robbed the area of the solemn peace that accompanies the winter solstice. Their argument, and its valid one, is that Manhattan’s skyline, although dazzling, causes the eventual eradication of the neighborhoods below and that’s precisely what sets Brooklyn apart.