Architectural firm Ellerbe Becket tapped to reevaluate Frank Gehry's Atlantic Yards arena design
BY Jotham Sederstrom
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
Wednesday, May 27th 2009, 4:00 AM
A model of architect Frank Gehry's design for the Atlantic Yards project.A midwest architectural firm that has designed dozens of professional sports arenas could bump Frank Gehry and his glitzy arena vision from the Atlantic Yards project.
Ellerbe Becket, a Missouri-based firm, was tapped last fall to reevaluate the extravagant arena design Gehry conceived for developer Forest City Ratner to lure the NBA's New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn.
"We are working with Forest City," said Bill Crockett, Ellerbe Becket's sports director. "We've been working with them for some time, doing some analysis for them on the arena."
Headquartered in Kansas City, Ellerbe Becket is known for designs that are more cost-efficient than Gehry's projects, which tend to be full of ruffles and flourishes.
The firm, which has designed basketball arenas for the NBA's teams in Memphis and Charlotte, was hired around the same time Gehry axed nearly every one of his employees who had been working on the stalled project.
A Forest City Ratner spokesman Tuesday insisted the firm had been hired to implement cost-cutting measures for the estimated $800 million arena, but observers familiar with how Frank Gehry works suspect that could soon change.
"Because Gehry's designs are fairly complex, any real changes would probably end up looking like an Ellerbe Becket project," said a former Gehry architect who worked on Atlantic Yards until being laid off late last year. "[Gehry's projects are] relatively difficult to execute."
Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco said a reevaluation of Gehry's design would be completed by July, at which point Ratner will determine whether the world-famous architect would remain on the project.
He insisted Gehry is now the master architect of the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project, which was expected to include the arena and 16 residential and commercial towers to be developed in Prospect Heights.
"As we have said repeatedly, we are talking to a lot of people in an effort to identify savings given the realities of the current economic environment," said DePlasco. "We should complete the process this summer and will have more to say about it at that time."
Daniel Goldstein, a member of the anti-Atlantic Yards group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, questioned Ratner's stated commitment to break ground at the site as early as September, even though a final design for the arena has yet to be determined.
"[Developer Bruce] Ratner claims he can finance [the] arena and break ground this coming fall," Goldstein said. "That's impossible. He doesn't even know who's designing the arena or what it costs."
That's the most liberal usage of the word "reevaluate" I've ever seen. I'm guessing "ritualistically slaughter and dance over its corpse" didn't hold up that well in editorial meetings
Last edited by CitiesfromSpace; May 27th, 2009 at 03:24 PM. Reason: I'm an idiot
That's a lot of words to just basically say, "we want something real cheap."
^ no one jumping to conclusions here...
That was the one block in the whole plan that I liked.
I think that there will be a bigger community backlash against a stand alone arena - particularly if it includes parking - than what we saw with the overall AY proposal. Ratner is just too arrogant (and cheap) a developer fpr such a large site (as he has proven). Compare him to Wallentas and Two Trees development. Wallentas listens to the community, addresses the concerns, and wins over critics. Ratner tries to steamroll the process. Marty Markowitz end up looking like a fool and Leticia James looks like the one with vision.
Ratner is threatening to cut Beekman Tower short. He's undermined his own credibility on designing what he proposes.
An arena without a larger development, will get much more critical scrutiny than his last fiasco.
I don't know if this is "new" info...
1. Pedestrian Bridge on 6th Avenue across the yards.
2. The ramp to track level. It was labeled "construction ramp". You can note the idle site and determine is that is a misnomer.
3. The Pedestrian Bridge to nowhere, but I like this photo...
4. The aforementioned ramp. It's seems both it and the project are on a downward incline.
NOTE: I'm taking Gehry's name out of the thread title. This thing has been up in the air so long, it is fair to assume that the proposal and concept ae stale.
Congratulations Brooklyn NIMBYs! Enjoy your crap architecture.
Gehry's totally underated design could have been financed and under construction two years ago, and it could have been a beacon amongst a borough full of developments that can best be described as dog feces. I mean seriously, has there been one halfway decent new building built east of the East River in the last 70 years? Brooklynites should be embarrased.
There is enough going on for anyone to recognize that Raner is not the only player in Brooklyn. Toren looks fantasticand so does Meier on the Park - that'sTWO. I call both of those developments "evidence" that this downtown wont rise or fall with the Ratner boat.
OUT_______________________________________________ _____ IN
Frank Gehry is out as the architect for the Barclays Center arena, the centerpiece of the long-delayed and financially challenged Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, according to government officials and real estate executives who have been briefed on the plans.
The exotic, $1 billion glass-walled design by Mr. Gehry, the award-winning architect behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, has been replaced with a less-expensive, $800 million arena.
The new design comes from Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in convention centers, stadiums and arenas, and designed Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play. Officials who have seen the latest design for the Brooklyn arena say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse, it also bears a likeness to an “airplane hangar.”
The developer of Atlantic Yards, Bruce C. Ratner, chief executive of the Forest City Ratner Companies, scrapped Mr. Gehry’s plans primarily for economic reasons. The $4 billion project has been hobbled by lawsuits, a recession and its own ambitious goal to build 6,400 apartments, 40 percent of which would be reserved for low- to middle-income families. Forest City Ratner was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company.
Mr. Ratner, who won a major court victory over opponents to Atlantic Yards last month, 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. Officially, the developer says the arena is supposed to be ready in 2011 as the new home for the Nets, who will move to Brooklyn from the Meadowlands in New Jersey.
There have been rumors since December, often based on comments by Mr. Gehry, that he was no longer involved with the arena. However, Mr. Ratner, who also had Mr. Gehry design a residential skyscraper in Lower Manhattan, had so far declined to make it public. But in recent days, the developer has been circulating the new design among state and city officials as he seeks formal approval of the changes.
Mr. Gehry is still the master planner for the 22-acre development, which is at Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues. But in a concession to the collapsing commercial and residential real estate markets, the developer has delayed most of the housing and a proposed office tower. In an interview last month, Mr. Ratner said he planned to start the first residential tower, which would contain a large percentage of units for low-, moderate- and middle-income families, about six to nine months after work began on the arena.
Conseco FieldhouseThe new design comes from Ellerbe Becket, an architectural firm based in Kansas City, Mo., that specializes in convention centers, stadiums and arenas, and designed Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where the Indiana Pacers play. Officials who have seen the latest design for the Brooklyn arena say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse, it also bears a likeness to an “airplane hangar.”
Least Cost Option