An architecture firm headquartered in Dallas has filed suit against the developers of the Ashby Highrise, alleging that Buckhead Investment Partners made “copies and derivatives” of the firm’s design for the 27-story Grant Park Condominiums tower in Minneapolis. Humphreys and Partners Architects designed that complex (pictured above) in 2003. The lawsuit is also directed at EDI Architecture, the firm Buckhead hired to produce drawings for the proposed highrise at the corner of Bissonnet and Ashby near Southampton.
The lawsuit claims that Buckhead infringed on Humphreys’ copyright by submitting plans for a proposed 23-story tower at 1717 Bissonnet to the city of Houston. Those plans have already received permits. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to prevent Buckhead from constructing the building, because doing so would “necessarily create additional copies and derivatives” of Humphreys’ intellectual property.
How closely does Houston’s proposed tower follow Grant Park’s design?
Well, here are a few more images of Grant Park:
And drawings of one version of the proposed Ashby Highrise:
A posting on a website set up by opponents of the Ashby highrise claims that Humphreys had at one point been engaged by Buckhead to design the Ashby building. “Humphreys showed Buckhead their Grant Park plans, but Humphreys never prepared any plans for the Ashby project and Buckhead ultimately told Humphreys that they planned to go in a ‘different direction,'” the report alleges. The website also claims that the photograph of blueprints featured at the top of Buckhead’s website is itself a photograph of drawings Humphreys produced for Grant Park.
What are Humphreys’ chances of shutting down the Ashby Highrise? The firm, which has offices or affiliates in 16 cities, had notable success in a previous case against an Indiana developer who tried to copy its designs. Filed in 2000, the suit eventually resulted in the architecture firm being awarded ongoing payments from the copycat apartment building’s rental income, rendering the developer’s investment “essentially useless,” according to one report: “No future income could be earned [from the building] unless it was transmitted on to the architects.”
- Humphreys and Partners Architects vs. Buckhead Investment Partners, et al. (PDF)
- Ashby Developers Hit With Copyright Infringement Suit [Stop Ashby Highrise]
- Grant Park [Humphreys and Partners Architects]
- Architectural Copycats—”Whose House Are You Building, Anyway?” (PDF) [PJ Weinberg]
- Ashby Highrise coverage [Swamplot]