This weekend, an anonymous philanthropist and architecture buff spoke to the Wall Street Journal about the ubiquity of Frank Gehry and how he's just plain sick of it, dammit. He's so sick of it, in fact, that he's offering up $300M to any city that hires someone other than Gehry to build its main art museum. We kind of thought it was a joke until we read some of this guy's choice quotes:
"Don't get me wrong, I like iconoclastic, swoopy structures that look like bashed-in sardine cans as much as the next guy," [he says]. "I like Czech dance halls that look like a 747 plowed right into the façade as much as anybody. I bow to no man in my admiration for an architect who can design an art museum that looks like a intergalactic recycling center. I just thought it would be nice to give the second-most-famous architect in the world a shot at a payday. Whoever he is. I know I've got his name here somewhere."
Yikes! Better not tell this guy that a bougey vintage clothing shop has moved into a Gehry building in Santa Monica.
Amazingly, these words were just the tip of the iceberg—the story turns into a full-on Gehry-bashing party! And there ain't no party like a Frank Gehry-bashing party:
Says one anonymous architecture critic:
"There's a swoopy Frank Gehry building in L.A. There are swoopy Frank Gehry buildings in New York, Seattle, Cleveland, Toronto, Cambridge, Mass., and Princeton, N.J. That's not to mention the swoopy Frank Gehry buildings in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach, Las Vegas and Bilbao, Spain. Everywhere you go on the planet, whether it's an art museum, a concert hall, a corporate headquarters or a hospital, there's a swoopy Gehry building. I'm not saying that the world doesn't need any more swoopy Gehry buildings that look like dented Miller Lite cans. I'm just saying that maybe the world doesn't need quite so many." From an anonymous city planner:
"Elciego, Spain, has a Frank Gehry building," he notes. "Herford, Germany, has a Frank Gehry building. Dundee, Scotland, has a Frank Gehry building. I'm going to level with you: I don't even know where those places are. Nobody does. I think they might be in Europe. But I'll tell you one thing: I know where Biloxi, Miss., is. Well, if Biloxi, Miss., has a playful Frank Gehry building, we just can't afford not to. Even though I can't tell you who we are." These poor, scared people—so afraid to speak out openly. As for that philanthropist and his generous offer—so far there's been not a sole taker, despite the fact he's offering the money to any city of any size. "Cities are afraid to seem backward and square," he says. "There's nothing a local tourism board or chamber of commerce fears more than acquiring a reputation for being un-cool."