Politicians and residents of Elk Grove in California argue over 2012 aquatic centre architect’s suitability to civic centre

You might not expect architects of the calibre of Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid to be overly concerned with the small town machinations of Californian city Elk Grove, population 131, 212.

But a row has erupted over which of the starchitects will design the town hall in the 182nd largest city in the United States.

According to local newspaper the Elk Grove Citizen, the decision to award Zaha Hadid the contract to design the civic centre contract has met opposition from some quarters of the Californian city.

Several members of the council, including Sophia Scherman, the vice mayor, and Steve Detrick, a council member, would reportedly prefer to invite an American architect such as fellow Californian Frank Gehry to design the centre.

A local resident, Deborah Sacker, used a town hall debate in February to ask the council to rethink its decision to hire Hadid to design the centre. She told the newspaper her actions came after extensive research of Hadid’s work. She said: “Every red light went off. I felt it was a very bad match for Elk Grove, visually. Her focus is extremely avant-garde.”

Sacker and others feel that Gehry would be a more practical fit for Elk Grove, even though the veteran architect did not enter the competition to design the centre and has not expressed any such desire to do so.

Although the council remains divided, it seems likely that Zaha Hadid will design the civic centre for the city. Pat Hume, the city mayor, summed up the argument: “The one thing I will say is that architecture is subjective. You are not going to please everybody.”