G. Ware Travelstead

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Gooch Ware "G" Travelstead is an American property developer and entrepreneur, born in Kentucky in 1938.

While head of First Boston Real Estate, a subsidiary of Credit Suisse First Boston, Travelstead was the original designer and promoter of the Canary Wharf estate in London Docklands.

Family[edit]

Travelstead came from a Kentucky family. His grandmother Nelle Gooch Travelstead was the daughter of a prominent Democrat state politician and was a teacher.[1]

His father Will Gooch Travelstead was an engineer and businessman who owned Travelstead Construction Company in Baltimore, Maryland. He was involved in the construction of many projects such as the World Trade Center building, and also was the subcontractor for the construction of Cape Kennedy. He and his first wife were the parents of two children, G. Ware Travelstead and Malcolm Travelstead.

After retiring in 1975, Will Travelstead returned to Bowling Green, Kentucky and lived in a vacation home until he could complete renovation of the old family home, Travelogs. Will Travelstead died in 1981.

Canary Wharf[edit]

In 1984 the restaurateurs, the Roux Brothers, were looking for several thousand square feet of space to prepare pre-cooked meals. Michael von Clemm, chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) and also chairman of Roux Restaurants, was invited for lunch by the LDDC on the Thames barge moored alongside Shed 31 at Canary Wharf, to promote the idea of this food packaging factory being based on the Isle of Dogs.

Von Clemm came from Boston and when he looked through the porthole at Shed 31, a simple brick-concrete infill, he commented that it reminded him of the warehouses in Boston harbour which had been converted into back up offices and small business premises. Reg Ward, at the time LDDC Chief Executive, remembers him suddenly leaning back and saying: "I do not know why we do not go for a shed like 31 as a 200,000 sq ft (19,000 m2) back up office."

This led on to discussions at CSFB's offices, during which their American property adviser Travelstead, raised his hand and said: "We're asking ourselves the wrong question. Of course we can take Shed 31 and convert it into a backup office, but we have spent the last five years courting at the Court of the City of London for a new site for a new configuration of building without success. The question is: 'Can we move our front office to the Isle of Dogs?"' There was immediate dissent. Reg Ward, however, agreed with Travelstead and pointed out that Citibank had successfully moved into mid-town New York and had also moved from the central business district in Hong Kong, drawing other users with it. (Eventually it would do the same in Docklands, constructing its own building at Canary Wharf)

Travelstead managed to persuade the London Docklands Development Corporation and the Government of Margaret Thatcher that a new financial services district of ten million square feet, located at the old West India Docks, was viable. He was the first to propose a single main tower, which later became One Canada Square and also negotiated the enterprise zone terms, which were the key to the successful development of the site. He proposed building the project as part of a consortium led by his own company The Travelstead Group, together with prospective occupiers CSFB and Morgan Stanley.

However, he was unable to fund his project and on 7 July 1987, CSFB and Morgan Stanley pulled out of the consortium, effectively pulling the plug.

The scheme was taken over a month later by Canadian developers Olympia and York, who went on to develop the first phase before themselves going bust. However, Canary Wharf has since outgrown even Ware Travelstead's ambitious vision, and now covers some 15,000,000 square feet (1,400,000 m2).

Porto Olimpico, Barcelona[edit]

Travelstead then turned his attention to Spain, promoting the development of Barcelona's run-down port area in the run up to the Olympic Games of 1992 and working with Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill to create the scheme which later became Porto Olimpico. He was behind the design and development of the Hotel Arts, a 45-storey, 600 room luxury hotel, together with Japanese company Sogo. However, later the hotel was acquired by Deutsche Bank.

383 Madison Avenue[edit]

In the early 1990s Travelstead, operating on his own account, turned his attention to New York, proposing a 74-storey 1,400,000 sq ft (130,000 m2) tower at 383 Madison Avenue (see here [1]). Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, the building was to have an elegant crown of screens at the top and to be about the same height as the Chrysler Building. Unfortunately he was unable to acquire sufficient "air rights" to build the tower - and embarked on an innovative attempt to acquire such rights in a swap from Grand Central station. The City of New York opposed this development and changed the rules to prevent this from being attempted again. Without the air rights the building was unviable and his development partners pulled out in 1993. The new Bear Stearns HQ was built on the 383 Madison Avenue Site.

Personal life[edit]

In May 1996, Travelstead filed voluntarily for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.

In his private life, G Ware Travelstead has been a philanthropist and art collector. He funded the G Ware Travelstead Professorship of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design.

See also[edit]

Canary Wharf

  1. ^ See: http://www.wku.edu/Library/dlsc/ua/188.htm