Paul Goldberger, former architecture critic for the New York Times, interviewed Frank Gehry last night in Hastings Hall. I was invited to the post-lecture dinner at Dean Stern's apartment, so I arrived dressed up (i.e., wearing heels). Post-lecture dinner invitations are more or less random (restricted to graduating students), although some students have been known to issue special requests to Dean Stern when an architect the student is dying to meet comes to town; others just crash.
I got lucky and was invited the regular way, via email a month in advance. The lecture itself wasn't all that eventful. Goldberger started off by asking Gehry was he felt about the A&A building, which will be renovated in a year's time. Gehry knew Paul Rudolph, and it seems that Rudolph must have been to his era as Rem is to ours, or Jim Sterling was to his. Rudolph was the man, and everyone respected him. The conversation then turned towards recent projects, Bilbao and how Philip Johnson cried when he saw it (Gehry speculates the tears may have been faked), Gehry's new house, and the jewelry he's designed for Tiffany's.
The topic of the new Santa Monica house (actually it's in Venice Beach, I think,) seemed to be a sore one. Gehry bemoaned having to start over after his first set of plans was published (without permission, it seems) by Nicolai Ouroussoff, another Times critic. Once the project was published Gehry no longer liked it. I thought that was fascinating. It's as though he's so famous, and so much in the public eye, that he couldn't bare the thought of every architect in the world knowing the layout of his own home””that was too personal. A line had to be drawn.
Here's the image printed in the NYT
The conversation about jewelry was really moving, perhaps because I'm fascinated by small things and by craft. I used to make a lot of my own jewelry and even clothing as a teenager. I have small hands so it's easy for me to achieve meticulous details. Gehry noted that the level of craftsmanship in the jewelry pieces is so much higher than it is for architecture, as it should be, he said.
Some images lifted from Tiffany & Co.'s web site
Here are some Gehry quotes I wrote down:
“I read Proust a lot, almost like someone reads the bible... he captures fleeting glimpses of thoughts in all of us.”
“Designing a chair is an exquisite experience. It's decoration, engineering and function all at once.”
Gehry is so different from our usual guests. He's unassuming, maybe because it doesn't have to pretend to be anything he's not. He's also getting pretty old and he was so tired. He kept telling Goldberger to stop the interview!
The dinner was nice. I drank too much, however. That seems to happen a lot at Dean Stern's house. You have to at least have a drink in your hand at all times. I need to learn to sip more slowly. It was nice to chat with a few professors I never see. I talked to Phillip Bernstein about his recruitment expo's; Phil is trying single-handedly to put the “professional” in “professional school.” He wants to teach organizational theory and teamwork/ leadership skills. That would be so great, I think. I could use it. I didn't talk to Gehry or Goldberger so much””they were both surrounded and I felt a bit overwhelmed. Well, it was more that Gehry seemed so put-upon, I just didn't want to bother him. That was probably a mistake.
In other news, studio is going wretchedly. I'm starting my design over for the 3rd time. Will (Bruder) just keeps finding huge holes in my ideas and he's right, for the most part. So I'm going back to a clear parti and working forward. I have 3 weeks until the final review. I should be okay. I have hope.