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Foster finds he is no longer New York's darling as tower runs into criticism

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Norman Foster's latest skyscraper scheme in New York has met with heated opposition from residents in the affluent Upper East Side area of the city.

The practice want to build a 25-storey elliptical tower above the much-remodelled Parke-Bernet Gallery building on Madison Avenue - proposals which include recreating the original 1950s roof garden and creating new gallery space.

Although similar in concept to Foster's Hearst Building, the Madison Avenue apartment tower will not actually 'touch' the existing building and the project team has described the glazed addition as 'hovering' above the block.

However, unlike the highly acclaimed Hearst Building, the scheme has been greeted with anger from locals.

Earlier this week the local community board committee, who will be consulted on the scheme by the city's planners and heritage watchdogs, rejected the proposals, branding the height of the development inappropriate for the area.

Meanwhile the influential Historic Districts Council said: 'Rather than establishing a relationship with the district's protected landmark buildings, this scheme instead proposes to use the Parke-Bernet Gallery as a base to launch this glass tower into the sky where it will supposedly disappear.

'In addition to the irreparable damage this proposal would do to the historic streetscape of Madison Avenue, it would also set a terrifying precedent for new development in historic districts citywide.'

Yet project architect Brandon Haw says he is not concerned by the criticism, insisting the new 'light and crystalline' building will work well with the existing 'horizontal expression' of the original gallery.

A more detailed analysis of the scheme can be found in the next issue of the AJ (19.10.06).

by Richard Waite

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