On NPR: "Jay-Z and Beyonce were kind of used as pawns to help the developers…"

July 21, 2013







I can’t tell you how trashy and disgusting hip hop and contemporary R&B culture appears to me. I never liked it and it never spoke to my soul

Thousands gathered in more than 100 cities across the U.S. Saturday to protest Stand Your Ground laws and to show support forTrayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager shot and killed last year by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who wasfound not guilty by a jury in his murder case July 13. And Beyoncé and Jay-Z were among them.

actually most people I talk to say few people showed up…

….from what I’ve heard of the gathering in NYC this is not true. People are starting to become embarrassed by this story and narrative. Most admit behind closed doors that Trayvon was not the dead icon they had hoped for….

meanwhile….

(Atlantic Yards Report) OK, Jay-Z may be “bulletproof” in the music market, as some experts say, but some remember lingering taint from the role the hip-hip entrepreneur and cultural force played in the building of a certain Brooklyn arena.

From NPR, 7/19/13, Getting Real On Race After Zimmerman VerdictMARTIN: …But before we go, we do want to talk about Jay-Z’s album “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” There’s new criticism – now people might remember that the singer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte once said that Jay-Z and Beyonce need to take more social responsibility. Well, Jay-Z’s talking back on this album. I just want to play a short clip.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST: I’m Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now it’s time for our weekly visit to the barbershop, where the guys talk about what’s in the news and what’s on their minds. Sitting in the chairs for a shape-up this week – our writer and culture critic Jimi Izrael, with us from Cleveland. Fernando Vila is the director of programming for Fusion. That’s a joint venture between ABC and Univision. He’s with us from Miami. Sportswriter and professor of journalism Kevin Blackistone is here in D.C. And also here in Washington this week – Mario Loyola. He’s normally with us from Austin, where he is with the National Review magazine and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, NICKELS AND DIMES”)
[I’m just trying to find common ground
‘fore Mr. Belafonte come and chop a nigga down
Mr. Day O, major fail
Respect these youngins boy, it’s my time now
Hublot homie, two door homie
You don’t know all the shit I do for the homies]

MARTIN: Oh, I had missed that lyric until you all pointed it out to me. Ouch, Kevin what are you saying? Is he overstepping? Is he giving his props to the elders? What’s up?

BLACKISTONE: Yeah, he’s overstepping. I mean, come on you can’t go after Harry Belafonte even though he went after you. Look, you are doing your thing, but we also know you don’t have the history and the narrative of Harry Belafonte. You know, you didn’t learn at the knee of Paul Robeson. You know, you didn’t write the check to get MLK out of the Birmingham jail. I mean, you didn’t do all of those sorts of things. You didn’t march on South Africa.

You know, you did “Big Pimpin,” which a lot of people would say is a misogynistic album, OK. I mean, it may be funky, but at the end – you know, you can look at the lyrics for yourself. And, you know – and most recently, with the whole Barclays Center up in Brooklyn, there’s a whole documentary out called “Battle of Brooklyn,” which shows how Jay-Z and Beyonce were kind of used as pawns to help the developers just steam roll over people in the Atlantic Yards neighborhood so that they could build that sparkling new arena there. So, you know, lay off of

Harry Belafonte.

It’s actually Battle for Brooklyn, but Blackistone gets the picture in a way many don’t.


Brookly Nets/Barclays Center Weathered Steel Company Demise

January 6, 2012
Media_httpwwwcrainsne_ajgfh

(crainsnewyork.com) The developer of the Barclays Center arena in downtown Brooklyn says that the year-end demise of the company that is fabricating the weathered steel for the arena’s distinctive façade will not result in any construction delays.
The 675,000-square-foot arena that will be home to the Brooklyn Nets is supposed to open this fall in time for the start of the basketball season. It is the first building to rise in the vast $4.9 billion, 14-apartment tower Atlantic Yards project being developed by Forest City Ratner Cos.
“We are concerned when any of our partners has problems, but we don’t believe it will affect our construction schedule,” said MaryAnne Gilmartin, executive vice president of Forest City Ratner, referring to steel fabricator ASI Limited having gone out of business. “We can still continue with construction.”
In a statement, a spokesman for Forest City said the site’s construction manager, Hunt, and the bonding company for ASI have developed an action plan. They have already started work on site and have developed several options for on-going fabrication. It didn’t specify the options.
According to a blog by SHoP Architects, the façade’s designer, it started working with ASI in the summer of 2010 to develop the process to weather the steel. Early last year, ASI started to process the 12,000 weathered-steel panels plus support rails that were needed for the arena. Those panels are combined into 921 large units that are used to enclose the center and build the canopy. The spokesman said that 57% of the 561 panels that will enclose the arena have been put up. He said the enclosure panels are critical because they protect the arena from the elements.
There was no answer to calls placed to Whitestown, Ind.-based ASI. Gregg Pasquarelli, a partner at SHoP Architects, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The Atlantic Yards Report, a watchdog blog about the controversial project, first reported the news about ASI. It also reported that a construction monitor report said the metal work for the exterior skin had an “early finish” date of May 13.


Jay-Z, "a reverse morals clause," and the flexibility of morality

April 9, 2011

Michael D. D. White, in his Noticing New York blog, suggests that Jay-Z’s take from Forest City Ratner might be going up because of a “reverse morals clause” triggered by the company’s questionable behavior.

Perhaps, but Jay-Z himself is hardly pure, not merely his unquestioning endorsement of Atlantic Yards, but the $50,000 fine the Nets recently incurred because Jay-Z inappropriately visited the locker room of the Kentrucky Wildcats.

Ultimately, I suspect Jay-Z’s fine with it all as long as he can open the Barclays Center with some hugely promoted concerts.


"Gray Lady Down," a debate on the Times, and an AY mention

March 21, 2011


photo

Atlantic Yards Report

Having read William McGowan’s book Gray Lady Down: What the Decline and Fall of The New York Times Means for America, I knew it does not address such relatively local issues at Atlantic Yards (built by the Times Company’s business partner on the Times Tower, Forest City Ratner), but instead more ideological issues such as gay marriage, immigration, the Duke “rape” case, and the war on terror. 
So McGowan didn’t bring up Atlantic Yards during a debate last month with Michael Tomasky, American editor-at-large for the Guardian, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights. (Tomasky’s main point was that the allegedly halcyon days of the past featured flawed coverage, especially in scope, of a different stripe.)

I think the issue is somewhat murky. I have no doubt that the editorial page is committed, by virtue of the “spirit of the Times” (aka Sulzberger), to supporting Atlantic Yards, or, at least, keeping its mouth shut about dismaying details.
Is the Metro desk in the tank? I don’t think so–and I can’t let myself think so. But the Times has done, on the whole, a lousy job covering Atlantic Yards.
Editors make choices, and the Times has chosen to put far less energy into looking carefully at Atlantic Yards than at a number of other issues. Meanwhile, the Sports section laps up Nets publicity.

link

“Lifeforce” 1985 International one sheet image via doppelganger
and via
thatsmyface.com

world’s tallest prefab steel structure for first affordable tower

March 20, 2011

Critic Lange: Maybe Gehry’s design was kinda modular, too…

Atlantic Yards Report:

…In Bad Faith Towers, Design Observer’s Alexandra Lange makes the connection between the Times’s graphic, for illustrative purposes, of a pre-fabricated, modular tower that might be built at the Atlantic Yards site, and a Frank Gehry rendering of the arena block, which looks pretty darn modular.

She writes:

Are we so desperate for affordable housing (again, the recession changes everything) that we will take a chance on untested building technology? Who gets to be the guinea pig on the 34th floor? Surely Forest City Ratner did not want this news out the week of the Japanese quake.

…Surely Ratner will tart up the prefab units with some cast concrete lintels and blown-up brownstone details, and call them contextual. But the truth is, the Times rendering is not so far from the boxy stacks Gehry proposed after the billowing Miss Brooklyn proved too costly. As with the disappointing 8 Spruce Street, there’s a thin value engineered line between industrial production and genius.

link

Big savings, but promised Union jobs, tax revenues lost, and new risks at Brooklyn Atlantic Yards… The problem here is this government intervening project was supposed to create jobs, but cost cuts save the project without creating the promised jobs. This is why you don’t want the government taking private property away!

In what seems to be a desperate–or maybe innovative–effort to save money and time, Forest City Ratner may build the world’s tallest modular structure to deliver the affordable housing long promised as an Atlantic Yards benefit.

In doing so, however, FCR would establish its own factory to manufacture the components, severely cutting expected on-site union jobs, and presumably cutting deeply into projected tax revenues, thus upending the always optimistic estimates of project benefits.

FCR’s Lego-like solution would severely antagonize union construction workers who, fulfilling requests by the developer and their own leadership, fervently and sometimes obnoxiously backed the project at rallies and public hearings.
And the bait-and-switch would continue a pattern of renegotiating contracts in order to save money.
For example, FCR in 2005 bid $100 million in cash for the rights to build on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard, only to renegotiate the contract in 2009, paying only $20 million out of the $100 million pledged, with 22 years to pay the rest.
Also, in building a 34-story tower at first, FCR would take risks by venturing into a construction technology that is still developing, the current record-holder only rises 25 stories..
A scoop for the Times
Charles Bagli of the New York Times, who has paid intermittent attention to the project but is a go-to guy for scoops, has the story, headlined Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards:

In a bid to cut costs at his star-crossed Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, the developer Bruce C. Ratner is pursuing plans to erect the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure, a 34-story tower that would fulfill his obligation to start building affordable housing at the site.
The prefabricated, or modular, method he would use, which is untested at that height, could cut construction costs in half by saving time and requiring substantially fewer and cheaper workers. And the large number of buildings planned for the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards — 16 in all, not including the Nets arena now under construction — could also make it economical for the company to run its own modular factory, where walls, ceilings, floors, plumbing and even bathrooms and kitchens could be installed in prefabricated steel-frame boxes.
The 34-story building, with roughly 400 apartments, would comprise more than 900 modules that would be hauled to Atlantic Yards, lifted into place by crane and bolted together at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street, next to the arena.

The current record-holder


The tallest modular building in the world, according to a 9/2/09 article in Building Design and Construction, is Victoria Hall, a 25-story apartment tower in Wolverhampton, England. A 9/21/09 article in National Real Estate Investor (source of the photo) calls it 24 stories.
Note the prefab appearance. Does Forest City Ratner’s claim that buzzy firm SHoP will design the building apply to the modular units? Or, more likely, would SHoP merely graft a “skin” on the building, as with the Ellerbe Becket arena?
Some flaws
The Times suggests that tall modular buildings require significant bracing, but modular buildings can have their flaws. A 3/26/08 Times article describes a modular building at Yale University that was built in 2004:

“They tried to blend in the appearance of the building with what’s here already,” said Martin Dominguez, a first-year medical student who was also an undergraduate at Yale and has lived in the modular building for 18 months. “They did a reasonably good job, though the building obviously looks pretty modern relative to the other architecture.”
Mr. Dominguez said he was not happy with the quality of the dormitory’s construction — some of the walls do not quite fit together and the floor is uneven in the bathroom, he said.

However, the Times reported, campus housing administrators at another college were impressed with the work and decided to go the modular route.
The benefits of modular
The Modular Building Institute, a trade group, explains that Modular Delivers More than Speed to Completion:

Commercial modular buildings are cutting-edge facilities of the highest quality, efficiency, endurance, and design: cost-effective permanent and temporary buildings that respond to ever-changing demands…
Today, multi-story, multi-unit buildings can be constructed in a factory from steel and concrete. The units, shipped to the site either on a flatbed trailer or on their own axles and tires, are craned into place and joined on site. Once completed, these high-end, factory-built buildings are indistinguishable from site-built construction. There generally are no visual or structural differences whatsoever….
The advantages of modular construction remain the same, however. Commercial modular structures are built in a climate- and quality-controlled environment, where savings of as much as 50% in overall construction time are not uncommon.

Ratner savings, union tensions
The Times reported that Forest City has been designing both a conventional tower and a modular one, and is looking for sites in Long Island City for a factory:

“The company is interested in modular, high-rise construction in an urban setting,” [FCR’s] Ms. [Maryanne] Gilmartin said. “It’s driven by cost and efficiencies.”
But it would also infuriate the construction workers who were Mr. Ratner’s most ardent supporters during years of stormy community meetings, where they drowned out neighborhood opponents with chants of, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

The Times notes that Forest City promised Atlantic Yards would generate “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs.” Actually, that’s job-years, so 1700 jobs a year over ten years or, more likely, many fewer jobs a year over a much longer period of time, perhaps 25 years.
The Times reports:

Not to worry, Ms. Gilmartin said, “We’re a union shop, and we build union.”
But under current wage scales, union workers earn less in a factory than they do on-site. A carpenter earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits on-site, but only $35 an hour in a factory.

Need for a cost-benefit analysis
Gilmartin should be asked to estimate the actual number of expected jobs, as well as the total in wages. Or the Empire State Development Corporation should do so.
Such numbers should be plugged into the cost-benefit analyses conducted by the city, state, and Independent Budget Office.
Forest City is clearly under pressure to fulfill its obligations and make its expected profits. City officials denied a request for $10 million in additional housing subsidies.
Going to 34 stories?
A firm located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Capsys, states that its system is good for 12 stories:

Our system of structural steel framing, concrete floors, and steel-framed walls is ideal for projects as high as 12 stories. Our in-house engineering group is capable of designing modular structures that fit the floor plan of almost any residential building.

Those quoted by the Times say taller buildings are possible, but pose challenges:

“At a smaller scale, prefab buildings have proven to be more efficient, more sustainable and less expensive,” said Thomas Hanrahan, dean of Pratt Institute’s School of Architecture. “The taller the building, the logistical and structural issues become much more complex.”

Keeping the arena block quieter
Unmentioned in the Times: prefab construction would clearly make it easier to build towers around the arena while conducting arena activities.
After all, cranes would be at the site for less time, and fewer workers would be at the site, as well.

Developer Bruce Ratner recently revealed the latest design for his proposed new Nets basketball arena in Prospect Heights, part of a controversial project that also includes 16 residential and office towers. The third version of the 675,000-square-foot Atlantic Yards arena was created by local SHoP Architects and Kansas City-based Ellerbe Becket.

The Brooklyn development project has restored some of the ideas of Frank Gehry, the original designer. Earlier this summer he was replaced with Ellerbe Becket, whose preliminary designs elicited howls of protest.

According to the associated press, the price for the project is 800 million USD, reduced from an earlier estimate of 1 billion USD.
To defer additional costs, Mr. Ratner has divided up the design. ‘The arena will be built first, and then,’ he says, ‘the foundations for the residential and commercial buildings will be dug, once he is ready to start the next stage of construction.’


In Mr. Gehry’s original design, all of the structures were conceived as part of a single cohesive scheme.

For further information read the New York Times article here.
via archicentral.com