Architect Ellerbe Becket, Kansas City, has been retained by Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer Bruce Ratner, of Forest City Ratner Cos., to come up with a new design for the long-delayed and controversial Atlantic Yards basketball and entertainment arena in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Ellerbe Becket replaces Gehry Partners. Other key designers, New York City-based structural engineer Thornton-Tomasetti, and mechanical-electrical-plumbing engineer, WSP Flack + Kurtz, will remain on the project.
Forest City Ratner says it hopes to unveil new images of the arena, named Barclays Center, in late June and that it intends to break ground later this year in anticipation of a completed arena in time for the Nets to play the 2011-2012 season in Brooklyn. That is two years later than a previous goal announced in 2006.
Recently, the Appellate Division of the New York state court ruled four to zero to uphold the state’s right to use eminent domain to build the Frank Gehry-master planned Atlantic Yards development including the arena.
“I have an immense gratitude toward Frank Gehry for his amazing vision, unparalleled talent and steadfast partnership,” said Ratner, the developer’s chairman, in a statement. “Both at Atlantic Yards and with the Beekman tower in lower Manhattan, he has continually produced beyond our expectations.” Ratner praised Gehry’s flexibility and professionalism in revising the project through periods of litigation, rising costs and recession. “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,” he said.
Also in a statement, 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.”
Under Gehry’s plan, the development would encompass 606,000 sq ft of office space and 6,860 housing units. The plan also calls for stores, a hotel and parking spaces. Forest City Ratner says it expects to begin construction of at least one residential building during the project¹s first construction phase.