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Foster's New York skyscraper 'could change following opposition'

The developer behind Norman Foster's controversial 980 Madison Avenue skyscraper in Manhattan has conceded that the scheme could be redesigned to appease growing opposition to the proposals.

Aby Rosen admitted designs for a 22-storey elliptical tower to sit on top of a 1950s gallery building could be reduced in height and that more 'masonry' could be introduced into the designs.

The city's Landmark Commission is set to decide whether to approve or reject the proposed development in New York's historic Upper East Side, which has attracted unprecedented attention from both critics and supporters of the project.

Among the backers rooting for the new apartment block, which would rise above the much-altered Parke-Bernet Gallery, are artists Jeff Koons, Vogue's Anne Wintour and heiress Veronica Hearst.

However, at the last count, at least 59 preservation and conservation groups had voiced their concern over the scheme and it is unlikely that the conciliatory overtures from Rosen will ease their fears.

Among the opponents who spoke out about the project when it was first unveiled was Elizabeth Ashby of the Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side, who complained that the scheme was out of context.

She said: '[It is] Vertical, glass and circular; masonry, rectangular and horizontal. There is no relationship [with the area] whatsoever.'

Others have branded the scheme a 'dagger in the heart' of the neighbourhood.

But Rosen who is also the man behind Foster's new Lexington Avenue tower behind Mies' world-famous Seagram building, is hoping the commission will be receptive to the development and believes the area needs to 'find a way to grow'.

by Richard Waite

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