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Hollywood Park Architect Arthur Froehlich Is Dead

October 05, 1985|BILL CHRISTINE | Times Staff Writer

Arthur Froehlich, an internationally known architect who helped design such horse racing tracks as Hollywood Park, Aqueduct and Belmont Park in New York, and Keeneland in Lexington, Ky., died Thursday of cancer at his Malibu home. He was 76.

Froehlich headed a Beverly Hills firm that he started in 1938 and that is now known as Froehlich & Kow. Mario Kow, who became a partner in 1978, and Froehlich were working this year on a $9-million expansion and remodeling program at Keeneland, a picturesque track in the Kentucky bluegrass country that Froehlich first worked on 30 years ago.

Although race tracks were not the only projects for the firm, Froehlich built his reputation by designing them, starting with Hollywood Park in the early 1940s. Internationally, he worked on tracks in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Venezuela, Panama, France and Trinidad.

He also designed parking structures at UCLA, offices at White Memorial Medical Center and most recently a medical arts center still under construction in the Simi Valley.

At one time, Froehlich did so much race-track business in the Eastern United States that it was necessary for him to add an office in Philadelphia.

Froehlich was the head architect on the Aqueduct track that was completed in 1959, but a few years later, he was caught in the political infighting among board members of the New York Racing Assn. regarding the rebuilding of Belmont Park.

Capt. Harry M. Guggenheim, who raced one of the biggest stables in the country, wanted 100,000 seats at Belmont and wanted the Frank Lloyd Wright firm in New York to do the job.

Risking loss of the contract, Froehlich insisted that "the tradition and spirit of the old Belmont Park should be retained."

John Galbreath, a major horse breeder and himself an international construction man, fought for Froehlich to get the job, which was completed after two years of planning and five years of building at a cost of more than $32 million. Belmont's 1 1/2-mile main track is the biggest in the United States.

"In the end, even Capt. Guggenheim was pleased," Froehlich said in an interview last July. "I saw him at Saratoga after Belmont opened, and he said he was happy with the result and the fact that the job was brought in under budget."

For a special reason, Froehlich remembered best his work on the Hipodromo National track in Caracas, Venezuela, which was completed in 1959. Froehlich designed the new track--three grandstands, a stable area, dirt and turf courses and a veterinary hospital--and it cost a staggering $80 million to build.

Froehlich had a picture on his office wall that showed him, Venezuelan President Jimenez Perez and several men touring the vacant land that was to be the track site.

"Take a close look at everybody else in that picture," Froehlich said. "The president and I are the only ones not carrying machine guns."

Other tracks that Froehlich was associated with are Golden Gate Fields, Garden State Park, Atlantic City, Monmouth Park, Bay Meadows, the Meadowlands and Oaklawn Park.

Born in Los Angeles, Froehlich was the son of a cattle and dairy farmer. He said he took an interest in design when he lived next to one of the biggest contractors in the city. "He would take me out to some of his projects, and I'd sit around in the shacks, looking at the blueprints," Froehlich said.

Froehlich studied architecture at the University of California, and one of his first jobs after graduation was as a draftsman for the structural engineer when Santa Anita was built in 1934.

Froehlich leaves his wife, Dorothy; a son, Bruce, of Los Angeles; a daughter, Linda Grenner, of Los Angeles, and four grandchildren. Services will be private, and the family has requested that instead of flowers, contributions be made for cancer research and to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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