Kansas City, Mo., yesterday selected the most prolific sports architect in the country, HOK Sport+Venue+Event, as the lead architect for the city's new $250-million arena.
The HOK unit is based in Kansas City and is teamed with Ellerbe Becket, another designer of sports facilities, and 360 Architects. The winning team bested Frank Gehry, the Los Angeles-based architect, whose firm was working with Crawford Architects, a firm with a Kansas City office.


HOK unveiled a conceptual design for the arena but Gehry's team said it didn't want to seem to be designing without input from its prospective clients.

The decision by a special panel put together by Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, a champion of the project who won voters' approval for the financing in August, was based on qualifications, not design ideas, says a spokesman for the mayor.
The competing teams had both expressed dismay with one another during the competition. Gehry told the Kansas City Star he was upset about what he felt were efforts to "besmirch us" by the HOK team. HOK's lead designer, Brad Schrock, complained about the Gehry team's "public potshots." Neither could be reached following the project award announcement.

City officials note in their announcement that the winning team would perform 87% of the work in the metropolitan Kansas City area. Other team members include structural designer Walter P. Moore Engineers, Houston, and Ellerbe Becket, a Minneopolis-based design firm with a Kansas City office.

According to the city's announcement, the winning team "has designed 24 of the last 28 major multipurpose arenas across the country and 114 arenas throughout the world, and have helped to make Kansas City known throughout the world as the epicenter of sports architecture."