World Financial Center, June 2008
Eliot Brown, my former colleague at the Observer, reports in today's Journal that Brookfield Properties' World Financial Center, home of Bang on a Can and parts of River to River, is about to unveil a redesign, stirring up controversy. The main point of contention is the removal of the beautiful staircase that leads to the Winter Garden arts space. (DNAinfo originally reported the controversy in August.)
City Planning's Amanda Burden and the local community board oppose the removal, which would allow access to the nearby PATH and subway stations. Brookfield CEO Ric Clark told the Journal that having the staircase would be unfeasible for commuters, and technically no approval for the interior work is required, although some outside work will be subject to City Planning review.
So, it seems likely that Brookfield will go ahead with this renovation, but no has to wonder whether it's the most efficient, cost-effective plan. The nearby subway station already has entrances a few blocks from the Financial Center, and while the construction of four new towers may lead to some congestion, the removal of an entire staircase seems drastic.