Dundee's city fathers ask star architect to work on centrepiece for their multimillion-pound regeneration plans.
Architect Frank Gehry has been invited to spearhead Dundee's multimillion pound waterfront regeneration scheme.

The projects backers hope that Gehry will reprise his role in the regeneration of Bilbao, northern Spain. This rundown industrial city become an international tourist attraction after Gehry's titanium clad Guggenheim Museum opened in 1997.

Charles McKean, professor of architectural history at the University of Dundee, made the suggestion at Gehry's honorary degree ceremony, attended by the world-famous architect and several hundred Dundee residents on Saturday.

He said: "Dundee has been without a chief architect for a decade. Like Bilbao, it's contemplating major change on its riverfront."

Almost 10 years ago, Edinburgh invited US architect Richard Meier to design the masterplan for Edinburgh Park, a business park to the west of the city. Staff at the University of Dundee are hoping that Gehry will agree to play a similar role by designing a centrepiece building for the scheme.

McKean said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Would it not be apposite for this city to follow Edinburgh's lead and seek a comparable appointment for Dr Gehry to advise on the future of the riverfront?"

EDAW has already drawn up a masterplan, with assistance from Oscar Faber, Rydens and Turner & Townsend. The proposals would radically reshape the whole of Dundee's waterfront area.

Like Bilbao, Dundee is contemplating major change on its riverfront

McKean, University of Dundee

Under the plans, the town centre would extend down to the Tay river and there would be an emphasis on pedestrian areas and cycling routes instead of car parks. The inner ring road would be replaced by tree-lined boulevards and a railway station would be built.

Dundee council's chief planning officer, Rory Anderson, said the proposals being discussed aimed to redefine the space between the proposed railway station and the city's main shopping area.

He said: "This is a major 30-year strategy which is very much in its infancy. In terms of value, we're talking about hundreds of millions of pounds."

The plans will be developed by the Dundee Partnership, a joint venture between the council, the city chamber of commerce, Communities Scotland and Scottish Enterprise Tayside.

The partnership is still to finalise the details of the proposed project, but is already seeking funds from public and private bodies.