Manhattan architect Richard Meier — famed for his iconic, celebrity-filled glass-walled towers on West Street in Manhattan — celebrated his first Brooklyn building last week with a warning to his fellow master builders: Keep it small.
Weighing in on the ongoing debate over the “Manhattanization” of Brooklyn, Meier sided with starchitects who appreciate Brooklyn’s unique look and character.
“Brooklyn has its own scale, a human scale — that’s why Brooklyn is great,” he said, in an implicit criticism of Frank Gehry’s skyscraper-filled design for Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards.
“Other builders can build tall, but that’s not for me. I build to Brooklyn scale.”
Meier was on hand at last Thursday’s “topping off” party for his new 15-story building, the awkwardly — and inaccurately — named “On Prospect Park.” It’s a sleek, 114-unit condo tower at the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Plaza Street East — not technically on Prospect Park, but across Grand Army Plaza from it.
The building tops out at roughly the same height as its neighbors on Eastern Parkway and Grand Army Plaza, a point emphasized by many at the ceremony.
“I think the building could have been a lot worse,” said Robert Witherwax, a member of Community Board 8 who lives in a neighboring tall building on Eastern Parkway.
“Its scale integrates nicely into the streetscape. It sets back at a respectful height, and the mass of the tower works well with the parade of tall buildings around the plaza and up the parkway.”
The building was constructed in the parking lot of Union Temple, which sold it in 2005.
Even Rabbi Linda Henry Goodman, who lost her parking spot in the sale, was impressed with Meier’s ongoing creation.
“This is going to be great for us,” said Goodman.
It’ll be dandy for Meier’s well-off residents, as well. From the roof of the building, residents will have a 360-degree view that takes in at least a dozen city landmarks, from the Parachute Jump in Coney Island, to the Brooklyn Museum, to the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower to Lower Manhattan and even the Empire State Building.
As the wine flowed and the freshly rolled sushi was downed at the Sept. 7 event, revelers got to ride to the rooftop to take in that stellar view. Borough President Markowitz did not partake (he’s afraid of heights), but stayed on terra firma to welcome Meier and the developers, Mario Procida, Louis Greco and Sheldon Gordon, to Brooklyn.
“Thank you for investing in Brooklyn,” said Markowitz. “Thank you for believing in Brooklyn.”
The thanks may not have been necessary. Procida, Greco and Gordon’s GPG Equities is expected to make a handsome profit; two-bedroom condos will reportedly cost well more than $1 million.
©2006 Community News Group
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