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News Highlights of the Week: January 5 – January 11, 2008

January 11, 2008

By James Murdock

Editor’s note: You may read the news digest below or listen to it, plus other news headlines from ArchitecturalRecord.com, as a podcast by clicking this link.

Click the play button to begin | Click here to download

The owners of Liverpool’s soccer team are “in no rush” to make a decision about replacing HKS as the architect of their new stadium, according to a January 10 article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph. The team’s owners, American businessmen Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr., originally selected HKS last year, as RECORD reported, but the Dallas-based architect overshot the budget for a new 70,000-seat stadium by $25 million, prompting the pair to request that HKS scale down its plans. Hicks and Gillett also sought an alternative scheme from the British design firm AFL. Both architects presented their designs this Tuesday and an announcement was expected soon afterward but the team’s chief executive, Rick Parry, told the Telegraph that a decision “had been put off.” The paper added that Hicks and Gillett are struggling both to secure funds for a new stadium and to refinance loans they took out for purchasing the team. When it was unveiled in July, HKS’s scheme was estimated to cost $600 million.

Preservationists in Philadelphia scored a temporary victory in the fight to save the Neo-Classical former Philadelphia Life Insurance Building and a Modernist addition by Romaldo Giurgola on Tuesday when a judge ordered a full trial to decide the buildings’ fate, The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote on January 9. The buildings, located at 111-113 and 115 North Broad Street, lie in the path of a planned expansion of the state’s convention center designed by the original architect, Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates. As RECORD reported in December, the Convention Center Authority brought in crews to begin demolishing Giurgola’s 1962 addition but were halted after preservationists objected that this violated an agreement with the state’s historical commission to save the structures. A trial scheduled to start on January 24 will decide whether or not that 2004 agreement must be honored. The Inquirer reported that the controversy “has ballooned in the last month from a simple preservation battle into a more far-reaching and philosophical debate. At issue is whether one state agency must honor agreements made by another.”

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Foster + Partners’ scheme for redeveloping the historic Clarence hotel in Dublin has received city council approval despite strong objections from the city’s conservation architect, The Irish Times reported on January 7. Foster’s design calls for demolishing all but the facades of the 1852-vintage waterfront hotel and surrounding buildings, listed on a register of historic properties, and rebuilding the properties with a new hotel consisting of “114 large bedrooms and 28 suites, oversailed by an elliptical flying saucer-like structure at roof level,” the Times wrote. Dublin’s conservation architect, Clare Hogan, objected that approving the project is a “direct repudiation” of city policy. Describing the demolition of the buildings while saving their facades as a “meaningless, discredited architectural device,” she added that “allowing this approach to Dublin, where historic buildings retain their integrity and interest, is reminiscent of the climate of 1960s speculative development.” The Clarence is owned by U2 band members Bono and The Edge.

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