Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Broken Angel Update

Time to look again, for a moment, at the state of things with our favorite threatened Clinton Hill landmark, Broken Angel. In a word, the situation remains confused and Broken Angel is by no means out of the woods.

To recap: On October 10, there was a fire at the top of the structure. This drew attention to the building, which was in violation of a raft of New York City building codes. The elderly creator was told to vacate the property. On October 18, the police moved in and led him away in handcuffs in a situation that one person called "a Clinton Hill Waco." By the following week, the city was threatening to demolish the structure, which is not unlike the Watts Towers in Los Angeles in the sense that it is has been crafted bit by bit from odd-and-ends by its artistic creator. Meanwhile, a local architectural firm volunteered some services and there was another meeting with the city last week.

The owner's son, Chris Wood, offers up the following comments:
Broken Angel has been an active project of construction by my family beginning in 1979. Major construction was finished in 2002, and all work done thereafter has been for the purpose of maintaining the building. The fire brought the attention of the Department of Buildings (DOB), previous interactions had occurred in 1986, and 2002 with no action taken against the building. During the course of building and maintaining the structure there have been no accidents or complaints. Compared with most modern construction projects, such as the Time Warner building in NYC, this is an excellent record. It raises questions as to why large developers are allowed to continue construction when they pose a risk to the community, whereas Broken Angel, which has no history of construction problems, has been singled out as a danger.
Of the subsequent walk through with the architect, Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture, he writes:
On Thursday (10/26/06) an engineer from the DOB toured the structure, and the next day the DOB released a different story. A DOB spokesperson recently commented to the Daily News (10/27/06) that any demolition orders, if warranted will take approximately 3 months to begin.
What the architect told the paper, of course, is that much of the structure can be saved but that it's a matter of "time, labor and money." Which, means, of course, that Broken Angel's future is as endangered as ever, even if there has been a hint of progress and a slightly bigger timeframe before the city might order in wrecking balls.

A little history is helpful here. Those familiar with the saga of Simon Rodia's Watts Towers (pictured above and to the left) might recall that Rodia's work was condemned by the City of Los Angeles and threatened with demolition too, until a coalition of actors, artists and community activitists stepped in to save them. They were later declared a national landmark. Broken Angel may not be the Watts Towers in form, exactly, but in spirit and--increasingly in story--they are closely related.

The photo at top is courtesy of onebadapple on flickr. For those that are interested, he has posted a superb Broken Angel photoset, which can be viewed by clicking this link.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the dude from Entourage knows about this

1:34 PM  
Anonymous christopher wood said...

Update Broken Angel 11/13/06 please post

The building Broken Angel is a unique melding of art and architecture designed by my father Arthur Wood, and located in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. The original building was bought at a city auction in 1979, and major construction was completed in 2002. On 10/10/06 a structure at the top of Broken Angel caught fire. Thanks to the quick action of the New York City fire department no one was harmed, and only minimal damage was done to the building. Unfortunately the fire brought the attention of the department of buildings (DOB) who vacated my parents, the owners and guardians of Broken Angel. My family is currently working with the architecture firm, Jordan Parnass Digital Architecture http://www.jpda.net/news.html, to bring the building to code, however we are still being threatened with demolition by the DOB. On Wednesday 11/15/06 the Brooklyn Supreme Court will begin hearings on whether the actions of the DOB are justified. Additionally we will be selling photographs and paintings as a fundraiser at Artez’n (444 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY). These works of art can also be viewed and purchased on line at http://www.artezn.com/product/?product_id=5246 .We are attempting to raise funds to save the building and develop it in a way that will help the community. In selling our art work we are hoping to make Broken Angel a permanent art installation and fixture of Brooklyn. For those who are interested in viewing the building additional photos of Broken Angel can by seen at http://www.flickr.com/photos/onebadapple/ . In closing my family would like to say thank you to all of the people who have been so gracious in their offers of help. We deeply appreciate your support.

6:57 PM  

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