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November 23, 2010

Cheek to Cheek With Frank Gehry

NY Observer
by Chloe Malle

Given Frank Gehry's critical role in the selling of Atlantic Yards, his elevator might eventually be going in the other direction.

"Where would you like to go?" a construction worker asked. Everyone was in hard hats.

"Uh, we're going to 37, take us to—" someone started to say.

"Heaven!" Frank Gehry chimed in. "We'd like to go to heaven. Press heaven!"

As the recently installed elevator at 8 Spruce Street floated soundlessly upward, Mr. Gehry, the building's architect, stood facing the closed doors, his hands laced together in front of him.

Joe Rechichi, a project manager with developer Forest City Ratner; Mr. Gehry's chief of staff, Meaghan Lloyd; his daughter, Brina Gehry; his son-in-law, Daniel; and a construction worker on the 76-story building—the tallest downtown—were along for the ride.

"Heaven, I'm in heaven, and dah dah ... Who's that?" Mr. Gehry asked the group.

"Fred Astaire," answered Ms. Lloyd.

"Yes, you're right, it was him." He continued humming the Irving Berlin melody.


Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, In Observer profile of Gehry, Beekman Tower down the memory hole: "construction stopped" and "resumed"

From a New York Observer profile this week headlined Cheek to Cheek With Frank Gehry:

CRITICS AND NAYSAYERS suggest Frank Gehry isn't fit to sharpen his claws on the New York skyline given such failures as the Atlantic Yards arena, also undertaken with Mr. Ratner, and the Guggenheim on the East River, a project that Mr. Gehry insists "was never real. It was always more of a dream." Eight Spruce Street--the building's official name, though it was first known as Beekman Tower --almost wasn't real, either. At one point, soon after the September 2008 economic crash, construction stopped at 38 stories, prompting forlorn Curbed commenters to gripe, "so depressing, the resulting building is just going to be a huge, shiny, stumpy thing."

But after a two-month hiatus, construction resumed, resulting in a finished product taller than the design originally proposed. "When we started, it was lower," Mr. Gehry said. "It was 66 floors, and when you go from a 66-floor building to a 76-floor building, there's a big cost implication. So I had to prove it, but when you saw the models of the building, it was obvious that the proportion got a lot better."

In the November 2009 unveiling of the facade. Mr. Gehry took the stage and looked straight up at the 76 stories. After a three-second pause, he turned back to the audience, "No Viagra!"

The phrases "construction stopped" and "construction resumed" suggest some sort of independent force of nature affected construction. Actually, developer Forest City Ratner stopped construction in order to renegotiate with the unions.

Posted by eric at November 23, 2010 12:01 PM