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BREAKING: Gehry's Atlantic Yards Arena Design Dropped

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Heck, in the end, not even Frank Gehry himself could stick to the script that his Barclays Center arena at the Atlantic Yards was happening. And when it was revealed that arena specialists Ellerbe Becket had been "tweaking" Gehry's design for, oh, a few years now, this became inevitable. Charles Bagli reports in the Times that Gehry's $1 billion Barclays Center arena plan has been abandoned by developer Bruce Ratner, who will now try his hardest to break ground on a cheaper ($800 million) design by Ellerbe Becket by the end of the year, the deadline to use his tax-exempt financing. Ellerbe Becket designed Indianapolis's Conseco Fieldhouse (photo after the jump), and Bagli writes, "Officials who have seen the design for the Brooklyn arena say that while it resembles Conseco Fieldhouse, it also bears a likeness to an 'airplane hangar.'" Well now, this should be fun! Gehry is still the "master planner" for the 22-acre project, and we're sure Daniel Libeskind can offer him a few tips on how that role usually turns out.
· Developer Drops Gehry Design for Brooklyn Arena [NYT]
· Atlantic Yards coverage [Curbed]

UPDATE: Here's a rendering of the new Barclays Center design, and here's Forest City Ratner's press release on the matter...

NEW YORK, June 4, 2009 - 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.

As the master planner for the Atlantic Yards development, Frank Gehry created a blueprint for what will be a vibrant new urban community blending an arena, housing, retail and commercial space, as well as six acres of landscaped public open space.

FCRC also announced that it has retained the award-winning 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.

"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."

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.

Ellerbe Becket has designed some of the world’s most notable and successful 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.”

Barclays Center

Atlantic Avenue at Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY