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June 5, 2009

Gehry: Going, going, going... gone

Here are the headlines from the media barrage, following Charles Bagli's scoop in the NY Times, after which Forest City Ratner was forced to issue a press release finally confirming Frank Gehry's departure from the project.

Associated Press, via The Star-Ledger, Developer drops Frank Gehry design to cut costs on future Brooklyn home of N.J. Nets

Developer Bruce Ratner said Thursday that Gehry's design has been scrapped for a cheaper design of the arena, named the Barclays Center. Ratner said "the economic climate is not right" for Gehry's design.

Ratner says revised images released by a Kansas City, Mo., architect should be out for the arena this month. He still hopes to break ground on it this year.


Along with the Times, the Post was able to obtain a rendering of the new arena:

It is unclear who will be designing the 16 residential-office towers that would make up the rest of Atlantic Yards in Prospect Heights.

Although the Post obtained a rendering showing the arena's new vision, Ratner said he'll formally unveil the new images of the arena later this month and break ground by September.

Here's one more reason to question anything Ratner and his henchmen ever say in the press:

Ratner has also been shooting down rumors since January that Gehry was canned from the project, but previously admitted bringing in engineers and other architects to seek cheaper ways to build.

The NY Times, Developer Drops Gehry’s Design for Brooklyn Arena

Here are some more details and observations from the Times story:

The switch met with the approval of David Stern, the commissioner of the National Basketball Association, who said that Ellerbe Becket had designed “some of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world.”

If the arena is built, however, it will most likely take more than two years to complete. Unlike the Gehry design, the new arena would not accommodate a professional hockey team.
“The current Atlantic Yards plan bears increasingly less resemblance to the project that was approved in 2006,” said Vin Cipolla, the president of the Municipal Art Society. “The replacement of Gehry further reduces the public benefits of the project, which urgently needs re-evaluation and oversight.”

NY Daily News, Starchitect Frank Gehry dumped from Atlantic Yards for cheaper option

So long, Frank Gehry.

The famed starchitect announced Thursday he will no longer be involved in designing the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn - a move rumored for months.
"It's all about money," said a source close to the project.
Jessica Schaffer, 28, an art gallery assistant who lives in Prospect Heights, worried a design without Gehry's stamp would add to the area's dreary architecture.

"The Atlantic Mall is already incredibly ugly," said Schaffer. "Now it's just going to be a giant sprawling ugliness. If it was beautiful, I'd maybe be down."

The Brooklyn Paper, Bruce to Gehry: You’re fired

The local weekly ran a quote from Brooklyn Borough President and Atlantic Yards Cheerleader in Chief Marty Markowitz:

Borough President Markowitz, whose longtime support for Gehry’s design softened earlier this year when out-of-control costs threatened the viability of the entire $4-billion mega-development, urged Ratner to press ahead without the Los Angeles-based genius.

“The great architect Frank Gehry has been absolutely central to creating the guiding vision for this project, and Ellerbe Becket is one of the best firms in the business — so we can be confident that the Nets and Brooklyn will indeed have a world-class, stunning arena here in Downtown Brooklyn and we will be bringing more affordable housing to those who so desperately need it,” he said in a statement.

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesperson Daniel Goldstein stated the obvious:

“The project that was approved [in 2006] no longer exists,” he said. “Is Barclays going to pay $400 million to put their name on what will be an airport hanger? Will other sponsors stick with a building that is no longer Gehry, no longer world-class building?”

Goldstein also mentioned that other benefits of the project, including tax revenues, have also been scaled back.

“It’s a bad project that has gotten worse,” he said. “The alleged benefits are diminising on a daily basis. The state needs to step in.”

Crain's NY Business, Gehry ousted as Nets stadium designer

Crain's covered some of the business angles of the story, though it is an "arena," not a "stadium," as the headline suggests:

“The current economic climate is not right for this design and with Frank’s understanding, the arena is undergoing a redesign that will make it more limited in scope,” said Forest City Ratner Chairman Bruce Ratner, in a statement.
Mr. Gehry’s departure from the project has been rumored for months because stadium’s cost of nearly $1 billion represented about a quarter of the overall development’s $4 billion cost. Sources said that Forest City’s banker Goldman Sachs Group Inc. told company officials they needed to cut the cost of the stadium if they were ever going to find a way to finance it. The stadium’s $950 million price tag is nearly double the cost of other arenas built in the United States, according to Sports Business Journal.
Still, financing for the project is a major hurdle. Banks have virtually stopped lending, especially for huge projects like Atlantic Yards.

Reuters, Forest City names new architect for Brooklyn arena

Here's architect Frank Gehry's statement:

"While there are always regrets at designs not realized, we greatly appreciate our ongoing relationship with Bruce and his team," Gehry said.

NoLandGrab: By "ongoing relationship," we assume Gehry means the Beekman St. Tower in Lower Manhattan, currently under construction.

Field of Schemes, Nets ditch Gehry for cheaper option; can this save Atlantic Yards?

The latest news didn't take sports-economy writer Neil de Mause by surprise:

In a development that surprised exactly one guy who was living under a rock, the New York Times revealed today that New Jersey Nets owner Bruce Ratner has ditched Frank Gehry's design for a Brooklyn basketball arena, and will instead attempt to move ahead with a cheaper design by Ellerbe Becket, architect of several other NBA arenas. The revelation comes six months after Gehry quit the project, and a week after Sports Business Journal predicted that Ellerbe Becket would be taking over.

amNY, Gehry out as architect of Atlantic Yards arena

This short item ran in the commuter daily published by Newsday (no online version available):


MetroNY, Architect out of Nets project
The other commuter daily ran a short item as well:


Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Gehry Officially Off the Atlantic Yards Project

We haven't seen the press release yet, but we're fairly certain that you can find it on the Daily Eagle's web site.

Atlantic Yards Report, The FCR press release refers to Gehry in the past tense, not as "master planner"

Norman Oder carefully parses the press release from the Daily Eagle's web site for clues of Frank Gehry's further involvment with Atlantic Yards, and notes that Bruce Ratner continues to mislead the press and public about the projected arena opening date.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Forest City drops Frank Gehry as architect on planned Nets arena

News of of the break with Gehry has reached Bruce Ratner's hometown of Cleveland.

Posted by lumi at June 5, 2009 5:49 AM