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Sneaking a Peek at Frank Gehry's Phenomenal Playboy Interview

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The January issue of Playboy hits stands on Friday, but we were pleased when the reps sent us a portion of it to read—yes, read—in advance. This month, contributing editor David Sheff sits with Frank Gehry for the "Interview" column, and, after reading the transcript front to back, we may never call Gehry a "starchitect" again. Ever. The full piece will publish tomorrow; for now, though, we tackle the difficult task of whittling the great many of Gehry's eloquent and fascinating soundbytes down to just 10:

· On the banality of contemporary architecture: "Ninety-eight percent [of buildings] are boxes. We live and work in boxes. People don't even notice that."

· On the globalization of cookie-cutter building: "I think it has more to do with comfort. You can make the economics work if you want. But in Tokyo, London, or Los Angeles people go into McDonald's and the restaurants are identical and people are comfortable. It's unthreatening. They know it, and we like what we know."
· On man's need to create: "There's a drive in us to express ourselves in some way or form. We pick up whatever material is available. It's primitive. Kids see sand on the beach, build something and show their parents..."
· On what kind of hotels to stay in: "I tend to go to very old-fashioned hotels. I've stayed in the Philippe Starck hotels with tiny rooms, and I bump into everything. I love his work a lot, but when I go to some of those hotels I come out with back-and-blue marks.
· On the livability factor: "There are also places that are so designed they're unlivable. I used to rail against the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. If you lived in that house and you came home and took your clothes off, where would you put them? You couldn't just throw your coat on the chair; it would spoil the design."
· On having a predetermined plan: "I don't. A friend of mine who worked with Mies had the Mies ensemble—a settee, two chairs and a coffee table—in front of the fireplace in his apartment. He'd complain that it wasn't comfortable. I said, 'I'll show you what's wrong.' I took the settee and pulled it around, put a chair on either side of the fireplace and did this and that. He agreed it was so much better."
· On the epiphany: "I have moments. I do get excited. It happens when I have the idea—the structure, the form, the body language, the way it fits, the way it deals with the functional elements, with gravity and the realities of construction—and i know it's affordable to the client."
· On being realistic: "I'm preprogrammed emotionally and intellectually not to go down blind alleys. I don't waste the time. I automatically edit out whatever's impractical. By the time I get to what I call the candy store, when it all comes together, I know I can do it."
· On stepping back and assessing Los Angeles's Disney Hall: "It takes three or four years before I get there. My first reaction is, 'Oh my God, what have I done to these people?'"
· On computers: "They allow architects to remain parental instead of being marginalized by the contractors and managers."

· Frank Gehry: Playboy Interview [Playboy]