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NEW YORK CITY-Forest City Ratner Cos. and achitect Frank Gehry’s Gehry Partners released a joint statement Thursday afternoon saying that the architect is off the job at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards arena. FCRC said it had retained architectural firm Ellerbe Becket to serve as architect for the Barclays Center Coliseum, intended as the future home for the Nets and the mega-project’s centerpiece.

As recently as last Tuesday, Ellerbe Becket principal Bill Crocket told GlobeSt.com, “we are working with Forest City Ratner, doing analysis, and as far as when any decision is going to be reached, I can’t tell you.” He added that he didn’t think any decisions about timing, or anything else, had been made at that point. But that was Tuesday, and as has been the case at Atlantic Yards, events change almost daily.

In today’s statement, which calls the end of Gehry’s involvement a FCRC chair and CEO Bruce Ratner says that “throughout this process–as litigation produced delay; as rising construction costs impacted the budgets of all developers; and a slowing economy altered expectations–Frank and his team have shown incredible flexibility and professionalism, making cost-effective revisions as needed. 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.” For his part, Gehry says in the statement that “while there are always regrets at designs not realized, we greatly appreciate our ongoing relationship with Bruce and his team.”

FCRC says it hopes to unveil new images of Barclays Center in late June and says it intends to break ground later this year in anticipation of a completed arena in time for the Nets to play the 2011-2012 NBA season in Brooklyn.

Last month, in response to questions from GlobeSt.com as to whether or not FCRC would use Gehry’s design for the arena, an Empire State Development Corp. spokesperson said that “regardless of Gehry’s involvement, ESDC guidelines must be met.”

Ellerbee Becket has designed several sports facilities across the country including Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis and Qwest Field in Seattle, as well as the Guandong Olympic Stadium in China. NBA commissioner David Stern says in the statement that he is “excited for Ellerbe Becket to design a world-class arena for Brooklyn and I look forward to opening night at the Barclays Center.”

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