Thursday, June 04, 2009

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

While the New York Times reported today that Frank Gehry is still the master planner for Atlantic Yards, the official press release, as conveyed in the Brooklyn Eagle, uses the past tense: Gehry "produced the master plan."

The press release

Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and Gehry Partners today announced a mutual agreement in which Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry, who produced the master plan for the Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, will no longer serve as the architect for the arena to be called the Barclays Center.

FCRC also announced that it has retained the architectural firm Ellerbe Becket to design the Barclays Center, which will be the home of the Nets basketball team and host over 200 concerts and family shows annually. The new arena design will incorporate all of the approved design standards.


How it will host that number of events is in huge question. Forest City Ratner consultant Andrew Zimbalist said in his report, issued in 2004 and updated in 2005, that the arena would host 226 events during the year--including 41 basketball games.

"I have an immense gratitude toward Frank Gehry for his amazing vision, unparalleled talent and steadfast partnership," said FCRC Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner. “Both at Atlantic Yards and with the Beekman tower in lower Manhattan, he has continually produced beyond our expectations. Throughout this process - as litigation produced delay; as rising construction costs impacted the budgets of all developers; and a slowing economy altered expectations - Frank and his team have shown remarkable flexibility and professionalism, making cost-effective revisions as needed. 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.”

Mr. Gehry said, “We remain extremely proud of our work on the Atlantic Yards master plan and on the original arena, which we designed in close collaboration with Forest City Ratner. While there are always regrets at designs not realized, we greatly appreciate our ongoing relationship with Bruce and his team.”


Does that mean Gehry, who has expressed doubts about the project, is being paid to stay positive?

FCRC hopes to unveil the new images of the Barclays Center in late June and intends to break ground later this year in anticipation of a completed arena in time for the Nets to play the 2011-2012 NBA season in Brooklyn.

How long would it take to build? There's no way they can open in 2011.

Ellerbe Becket has designed other notable sports and entertainment facilities, most notably Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN, Qwest Field in Seattle, WA, and the Guangdong Olympic Stadium in China.

“Ellerbe Becket has been responsible for designing some of the finest sports and entertainment venues in the world,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “From Conseco Fieldhouse to FedExForum, Ellerbe Becket has created a first-class fan experience in all of its buildings. I am excited for Ellerbe Becket to design a world-class arena for Brooklyn and I look forward to opening night at the Barclays Center.”

Mr. Ratner said, "Working with Ellerbe Becket, I am confident that we will meet all of our design objectives while providing a dynamic environment and the best sightlines for basketball fans and spectators for all events.”

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