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Archive for Friday, October 1, 2004

K.C. architect team will design hometown arena

October 1, 2004

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— City officials went for the home team Thursday, passing on an offer from internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry to pick a consortium of Kansas City-based architects to design the city's new downtown arena.

But the hometown team's members -- rivals HOK Sports+Venue+Event, Ellerbe Beckett and 360 Architecture -- are just as well known in architectural circles for their work in designing sports venues around the world.

"We're obviously very pleased and it's really, really gratifying to win in your hometown," said Bob White, a partner and director of marketing for HOK.

With city officials wanting to break ground on the arena next August, White said he expected the group to negotiate a contract quickly.

"We don't have much time to sit around," he said.

Mayor Kay Barnes and City Manager Wayne Cauthen announced the choice after a selection committee interviewed the consortium, who call themselves the Downtown Arena Design Team, and a second group that consisted of Los Angeles-based Gehry and members of Crawford Architects, which has offices in Kansas City and Australia.

Tom Proebstle, a partner with Crawford, congratulated his competition.

"It's a win-win for Kansas City either way," he said.

The interviews were held behind closed doors after a judge rejected an effort by The Kansas City Star to force the city-appointed committee to open the meetings to the public.

The Star contended the meetings must be open to the public under Missouri's Sunshine Law.

But Jackson County Circuit Judge K. Preston Dean, after a hearing Thursday morning, denied the newspaper's request for a preliminary injunction. He let stand his earlier finding that the Architect Selection Committee's sessions Thursday fell under one of the exceptions to the open meetings law.

The law requires public governmental bodies to meet in public except to discuss contract negotiations, real estate transactions and a few other specified topics.

Dean agreed with the city's argument that the Architect Selection Committee is not a "public governmental body" as defined by the Sunshine Law and that, even if it were, its discussions with the two architecture teams were "contract-related."

The City Council created the Architect Selection Committee after Kansas City voters on Aug. 3 approved a $170 million bond issue to cover part of the expected $225 million cost of an arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats.

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