Tuesday, October 14, 2008

FCR's fudge: Laurie Olin is (maybe) on sabbatical

The New York Observer followed up my post todayon Laurie Olin's apparent departure from the Atlantic Yards project by getting a statement from Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco (the "dark genius," as I once dubbed him):
"Laurie Olin has been involved from the beginning of the design process and he will be involved in the end. The eight acres of open space will be built as part of Phase 2 of the project, which has always been the case. Mr. Olin has completed preliminary work on that and will be involved going forward."

Reasons for skepticism

Does that mean Olin is currently involved? No.

Do the statements that Olin will be involved "in the end" and "going forward" mean he'll be designing the eight acres of open space? Not necessarily. Maybe he'd just show up for the ribbon-cutting.

Is Olin on sabbatical, which implies that some level of a retainer and/or consulting relationship? Maybe. However, if so, why does his web site describe his involvement as 2003-2008 rather than ongoing? (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

Olin's statement

Sure, it's possible that his role has been suspended rather than ended. If so, however, why did his office provide me with a statement that used the past tense regarding the relationship with the developer?

The statement: "OLIN completed a master plan for Atlantic Yards that we believe was a serious response to the many issues raised regarding this portion of the City of New York, and the great need for large amounts of affordable housing with adjacent well-designed, environmentally-responsive public landscape. We enjoyed a supportive and appreciative relationship with the owner/developer, the architects and the City of New York public officials. The current economic turmoil points to the truth that plans of such scope almost inevitably are realized over several economic cycles and must both be able to endure as well as be flexible to change."

As a world-famous landscape architect with a host of successful projects (Bryant Park, etc.) on his resume, Olin presumably can speak as candidly as he did last year, when he accurately predicted that the project couldn't be built in the announced decade. Let's see what more he says.

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