The Real Deal New York

Starchitect-designed city projects see delays, cost overruns

DDC employees question the agency’s Design Excellence program: report

March 02, 2016 11:12AM

From left: A rendering of the Hunters Point Queens Library branch and the 121st Precinct Station House on Staten Island

From left: A rendering of the Hunters Point Queens Library branch and the 121st Precinct Station House on Staten Island

What’s a starchitect worth?

Many of the projects funded by the Department of Design and Construction’s Design Excellence program – though uncommonly attractive by municipal building standards – have faced budget problems and extended delays, DNAinfo reported, citing public records and sources at the agency.

The 121st Police Precinct station at 970 Richmond Avenue on Staten Island, for example, had its projected cost increase from about $3 million to over $73 million over the course of development. The station – known as “the Stapler” – opened in 2013 and was designed by Rafael Viñoly.

The Hunters Point branch of the Queens Library was slated to cost $19 million when funding was first granted in 2004. The project, which was originally set to be complete by 2009, now looks likely to cost $30 million, DNAinfo reported.

A set of plans for the project created by architect Steven Holl were scrapped in 2014, with officials deeming it too expensive to build. The project is now set to be complete in 2017.

“I love the program,” a DDC employee told the news service. “But it’s gone off the rails, particularly with NYPD and Queens Library projects.”

DDC oversees billions in city development projects. The Design Excellence program, launched by the Bloomberg administration in 2004, was aimed at bringing in more established and innovative architecture firms to work on publicly-funded developments. [DNAinfo]Ariel Stulberg

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