Miami Seeks Cheaper Finish to Gehry Project

Officials in Miami are looking to cancel out part of a contract with architect Frank Gehry for a park element to the new campus he's designed for the city's New World Symphony. The city wants to find a cheaper alternative, but critics are opposed.

"This $150 million building at 17th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue -- it is considered a ''campus'' in that it will have a performance hall and rehearsal and study facilities all under one roof -- has an intended debut of early 2011.

It is part of a public-private project that includes a public parking garage and a park, both also designed by Gehry. But earlier this month, the Miami Beach City Commission took a preliminary vote to cancel Gehry's contract for the design of a two-acre park that would connect the campus to Collins Avenue. The move (it was a preliminary vote and will come up for reconsideration in April) was intended to free up additional funds needed to construct the parking garage, where costs have grown to $16.8 million from a planned $15.2 million. The idea is not so much to kill the park as to find a less-expensive (and obviously less-famous since Gehry is, at 80, arguably the world's most-famous) designer for what could be a fine park, just not the one that was conceived as a total composition, like a concerto for two instruments.

If, indeed, there is an either-or choice to be made here, this is the wrong one, short-sighted and ultimately counter productive."

Full Story: Park vs. parking: A Miami Beach Commission vote could sabotage an architect's vision

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Gehry To Be Coated With Titanium

The Pritzker Prize committee has revealed that, according to the newly released details of his will, the architect Frank Gehry will be coated with titanium after his death, and the statue will be given as a trophy to the Pritzker Prize winner for the following year.

In an industry where architects develop flamboyant designs purely to attract attention to themselves, Gehry is noted for his humanistic architecture, designed to create comfortable public places.

The Pritzker committee said that, because of the current economic crisis, they may not build Gehry's Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, and they are trying to cancel part of his contract in Miami, but the Pritzker winner who receives his statue will be required to include it in a future building, guaranteeing the titanium coating its rightful place as an element of today's architecture.

Nicolai Ouroussoff, architecture critic of the New York Times, commented: "This work of conceptual art will be a strikingly gritty alternative to the sacchrine, sentimental architecture purveyed by the New Urbanists."

(April Fools Day can be fun.)
Charles Siegel

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