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Why bother having the terror trials in a courthouse when we could have them at the new Long Island Rail Road terminal?
After all, the new “Atlantic Terminal” rail station that opened officially on Tuesday is one of the most heavily armored facilities in the borough — ringed by no less than 14 mammoth concrete coffins that give the beautiful new facility the look of an outpost in the Green Zone.
The appalling capitulation to the so-called “realities” of the so-called “post–9-11 world” have turned architect John di Domenico’s inspirational portal into a bunker.
Train stations are supposed to be about magic and adventure, not paranoia and fear. They’re supposed to inspire Americans to explore and look beyond narrow parochialism, not encourage it.
Instead, we get a train station that’s a fortress — designed in a style that architectural critic Nicolai Ouroussoff calls “21st-century medievalism.” It’s not a landmark of civic design, to paraphrase Ouroussoff again, but a line of civic defense.
Of course, you don’t have to believe me, a man whose formal architectural training ended at Lego. Genuine architects are coming out of the wainscotting to slam what the LIRR did.
“Those coffins are unfortunate,” said designer Brendan Coburn. “[Other buildings] do this more sensitively using stone and stainless steel bollards.”
Fellow architect Hayes Slade said that di Domenico was obviously ordered back to the drawing board at some point during construction because the bollards are so grotesquely out of step with the rest of the design.
“Obviously, the original design did not consider a terrorist attack,” she said. “In fact, the entryway presents a particularly open face to the street, which is aimed at transparency and access.
“Our society is at an odd transitional moment regarding how we deal with considerations of potential terrorism versus safety, mobility, openness,” she added.
We may indeed be at a “transitional moment,” but it’s one that we’ve created.
Certainly, no New Yorker needs to be reminded of the horrible damage done to our city by terrorists, but when we destroy our own civic institutions, we have no one to blame but ourselves.
©2010 Community Newspaper Group
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