Starchitect Showdown! Will Rockwell or Gehry Build the Better Playground?

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Rockwell and Gehry.Photos: Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images

It’s never too early to start Manhattan tykes on high-end real-estate mania. The Parks Department has just announced that Frank Gehry will be designing a no doubt titanium-clad playground for Battery Park — which puts the L.A.-based starchitect in head-to-head competition with New York’s own David Rockwell, the man behind countless restaurant and hotel interiors, some of Broadway’s wittiest set designs, and a planned “imagination playground” on Burling Slip, a bit uptown on the East River. How do the two compare? See for yourself.

THEME, PER CITY PRESS RELEASE:
David Rockwell, Burling Slip: “The feel of a working slip!”
Frank Gehry, Battery Park: “Where land and sea, history and modernity combine in a refuge!”

EXCITING DESIGN ELEMENT
Rockwell, Burling Slip: “Adventure playground” gear, such as sandbags, with on-site staff to help kids make their own fun.
Gehry, Battery Park: “Green” restroom with “vegetal walls.”

ARCHITECT’S PREVIOUS ATHLETIC-FACILITY COUP
Rockwell: Pittsburgh Steelers Stadium, Coke-bottle-shaped playground in left field of Atlanta Braves’ ballpark.
Gehry: Brooklyn Nets arena.

ARCHITECT’S KIDDIE CRED
Rockwell: Designed FAO Schwartz store; overhauled libraries for the Robin Hood Foundation.
Gehry: Has appeared on The Simpsons.

TARGET OPENING DATE
Rockwell, Burling Slip: Fall 2008.
Gehry, Battery Park: Early 2009.

ANNOUNCED PRICE TAG
Rockwell, Burling Slip: $2 million for “play workers.”
Gehry, Battery Park: $4 million this year, more TBD once Gehry has a design.

THE WINNER!
Between the Simpsons appearance and the “green bathrooms” — New York loves its green these days! — Gehry seemed to have the lead. But $4 million just to start? And a later opening date? We’ll give this one to Rockwell, who isn’t even destroying any Brooklyn neighborhoods with his other projects. —Alec Appelbaum

Starchitect Showdown! Will Rockwell or Gehry Build the Better Playground?