Atlantic Yards Rumors Appear True as Ellerbe Becket Steps in to ‘Reevaluate’ Frank Gehry’s Plans

Remember when it was rumored that developer Bruce Ratner was looking for another architect to replace Frank Gehry on the much-trimmed Atlantic Yards project, despite the press teams fighting off such ideas (“Frank Gehry has not been removed from the project”)? And then Frank Gehry himself sort of stuck his foot in his mouth by saying he’d given up hope on being involved with the Yards going forward — again much to the chagrin of the press handlers? Well, if you can believe it, apparently all of these crazy rumors seem to have maybe come true after all. The firm Ellerbe Becket has been hired by Ratner’s Forest City company to reevaluate Gehry’s plans for one of the few remaining projects still on the Atlantic Yards plate: the New Jersey Nets stadium. Although no one has come right out and said just that, with Ratner’s people still remaining distant, after months of hearing otherwise, it seems pretty clear that the rumors will all play out. Here’s a bit:

A Forest City Ratner spokesman Tuesday insisted the firm had been hired to implement cost-cutting measures for the estimated $800 million arena, but observers familiar with how Frank Gehry works suspect that could soon change.

“Because Gehry’s designs are fairly complex, any real changes would probably end up looking like an Ellerbe Becket project,” said a former Gehry architect who worked on Atlantic Yards until being laid off late last year. “[Gehry’s projects are] relatively difficult to execute.”