SBD/Issue 179/Facilities & Venues

Net Loss: Frank Gehry Out As Atlantic Yards Project Architect

Gehry Says Split With
Atlantic Yards Amicable
Architect Frank Gehry Thursday announced that he will "no longer be involved in designing the controversial Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn -- a move rumored for months," according to Wilson & Sederstrom of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner (FCR) said that the "skyrocketing cost" of the $950M Barclays Center for the Nets at the site "doomed Gehry's sleek, glitzy designs." A source: "It's all about money." Gehry said that the split "was amicable," while a Gehry spokesperson emphasized that he is "still working with Forest City on Beekman Tower in lower Manhattan." Wilson & Sederstrom also note while FCR officials said that Gehry's designs "would be a 'blueprint' for a new arena," sources familiar with Gehry's work predicted the new design by K.C.-based firm Ellerbe Becket "will be far different" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/5).

TRIMMING THE FAT: In N.Y., Charles Bagli cites sources as saying that the new Barclays Center design, which will cost about $200M less than Gehry's plan, resembles Conseco Fieldhouse and "bears a likeness to an 'airplane hanger.'" FCR and Nets Owner Bruce Ratner is "racing to pare costs and start construction of the 20,000-seat arena by the end of the year, when his right to use tax-exempt financing expires." If the arena is built, it will "most likely take more than two years to complete," and unlike Gehry's design, it "would not accommodate a professional hockey team." The switch in architects was "met with the approval" of NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said Ellerbe has designed "some of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world." Meanwhile, Bagli notes Barclays Bank at the end of this year has an option to opt out of its 20-year, $400M naming rights deal with the Nets. But Ratner has secured an additional $100M in "sponsorship and advertising deals with eight companies, including Anheuser-Busch" and Foxwoods Casino, and is "expected to announce another major deal next week" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/5). WNBC-TV's Victoria Cavaliere reported analysts now "question whether Barclays and other investors will stay on board without the involvement of" Gehry (NBCNEWYORK.com, 6/4).

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