Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ellerbe Becket versus Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry would probably claim the title of the most famous living U.S. architect. His buildings are known throughout the world and have become tourist attractions. These famous works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Experience Music Project in Seattle; Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles; and the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis. And, his private residence in Santa Monica, CA is another of his more famous structures.

Yet, Gehry is on the outside looking in once again when it comes to sports architecture--and a Kansas City-based architectural firm.

You may recall that Gehry was involved in the initial discussions on the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO before the city ultimately chose a "dream team" of architects from local firms. (Kansas City is the acknowledged home of sports architecture given the headquarters status of Populous--formerly HOK Sport + Venue + Event--Ellerbe Becket and others.) It is now Ellerbe Becket who has wrestled business away from Gehry.

The new Nets (NBA) arena in Brooklyn was designed by Gehry but Forest City Ratner, the developer, recently scuttled plans for the design and went with a new approach provided by Ellerbe Becket. That decision has not set well with some including Nicolai Ouroussoff, a writer for the New York Times, who blisters the developer on this change in direction.

Ouroussoff writes that the decision " not just a blow to the art of architecture. It is a shameful betrayal of the public trust, one that should enrage all those who care about this city."

To read more, here is the story:

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