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

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Rockwell and Gehry. Photo: 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