Tuesday, August 30, 2011

West Edge turns into a very expensive game of Jenga

How the West Edge is like a game of Jenga.

Posted by on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 9:18 AM

West Edge, in its original vision
  • West Edge, in its original vision
In a decision that should send a chill down the spine of black-cape architects, the Polsinelli Shughart law firm wants to tear down an unfinished office building that Moshe Safdie designed for the Bernstein-Rein ad agency.

The 11-story building has been deemed too irregular for lawyers. According to a report in today's Kansas City Star, Polsinelli's general contractor will gingerly dismantle Safdie's creation in order to preserve the parking garage that was built underneath it. A boutique hotel that was part of the original concept for the West Edge development will also be saved.

The game of Jenga and the subsequent construction of a less eccentric office building will cost more than $75 million. Polsinelli is committing to the West Edge site after its plan to occupy a new, suburban-style office building on the Country Club Plaza was hooted down.

West Edge represents a stinging defeat for ad man Bob Bernstein. The corporation he created to develop the project got into a dispute over cost overruns with the contractor, J.E. Dunn, and went bankrupt in 2009. The Star says Bernstein is out $20 million.

Bernstein was unable to recover his investment because Safdie's design was considered too avant-garde for most office users. Safdie is also the architect of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, which opens next month.


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