Following a cadre of strong editorials in favor of NYU’s Greenwich Village expansion plan, the 800-pound gorilla has spoken. Its fur is purple and it is screaming down the protesters in favor of the project. The Times‘ editorial board favors almost every point in NYU’s plan. It is a striking endorsement for a number of reasons, but first, what was written.
The Times says the project’s critics have overreacted; the community board “too vehemently” rejected the plan; the faculty who does not like are, well, dumb; and then tacitly calls on Borough President Scott Stringer to support the proposal with few changes:
There are some criticisms that N.Y.U. should take seriously, including the scale of the two large triangular buildings. Scott Stringer, the Manhattan borough president, has proposed reductions in their design that would move far too much space outside of the site. But N.Y.U. should pay attention to worries that the structures will create walls to the streets on either side of the construction area. N.Y.U. is selling the project in part as a way to open what is already supposed to be an open space between the 1950s apartment buildings, but is not.
N.Y.U. has an obligation to make sure that space is truly public and does not become an internal courtyard walled off by four towers. The university has a habit of getting famous architects to produce famously unattractive buildings. This is not a moment to repeat that.
This is quite the reversal from Michael Kimmelman’s daring proposal a week ago, which has already become a cause célèbres in the neighborhood. In it, Mr. Kimmelman called for a reduction in three of the four new buildings, including the elimination of the two Washington Square Park buildings.
The editorial is also a stern rebuke to Borough President Stringer. It was The Times on Friday the reported Mr. Stringer’s concerns about the Washington Square Park towers, and now the editors seem to be saying “don’t even go there.”
And that is what makes the endorsement of The Times so important to NYU. Not only are its readers precisely the educated mobs graduating from and sending their children to the university, they are also the ones who might influence their elected officials on the land-use review of NYU. Oh, and not to mention be voting for Mr. Stringer in next year’s mayoral election.
Looks like somebody’s stuck between a rock and two towers.