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Eavesdrop: Aric Chen


What's up between Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel? Last year, when Enrique Norten won a competition to design a new Guggenheim for Guadalajara, we reported that Gehry (who we didn't name at the time) was miffed that he couldn't convince fellow jurors to select Nouvel instead. And now, it's really looking as though Nouvel has become Gehry's pet project. "Frank relentlessly promotes Jean," says one insider, "and was pissed because he unsuccessfully lobbied for Jean to get the Pritzker Prize [in lieu of Thom Mayne]." And from a separate source: "Just before the Vitra event last month," where Gehry introduced his new Cloud Lamp, "Frank had been lobbying for Nouvel to get the AIA Gold Medal and was visibly upset that it went to Antoine Predock." So what's going on? Through his rep, Gehry acknowledged that he's a fan of Nouvel (and that he presented Nouvel's work to the AIA Gold Medal committee), but denied any favoritism, saying he considers Mayne, Predock and Norten to be "friends and colleagues whose work he supports equally." The rep also insisted that Gehry's not upset about Nouvel losing out on the Pritzker and Gold Medal—despite persistent rumors that he now has to sleep on the couch.

We haven't yet bought into the Santiago Calatrava backlash that seems to be brewing in some quarters. But we did get a good chuckle when we heard about a mishap at the exhibition of his artwork, now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It seems about two weeks into the show, a fabrication defect caused one of the "fingers" of Calatrava's kinetic sculpture, called Shadow Machine, to come crashing down during off-hours, prompting curators to remove the work. No one was hurt, but talk about engineering drama.

This spring, we hear the staff at House & Garden will be asked to pack up and leave Condé Nast's snazzy Times Square headquarters. Not because the magazine is folding (as has been rumored for years) but because a proliferation of new Condé Nast titles is squeezing it from its square footage. And for what are H&G staffers relinquishing their fabled Frank Gehry–designed cafeteria? New digs at…750 Third Avenue. "They feel like second-class citizens," reports a spy, who adds that the magazine will be joined not by Condé Nast's Vogue or Vanity Fair, but by its golf and bridal magazines, at the new location. "They're being shunted to a B-list building," the source continues. "Quelle horreur!" They will be getting a new cafeteria—but by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

We feel bad picking on Charles Gwathmey's new Astor Place tower (though we feel worse looking at it). But it's a relief to hear that Gwathmey's proposed design for a condominium building on West Street—which, with its curving façade and hefty bulk, was described by one observer as "Astor Place with a thyroid problem"—is being scrapped for something that looks a lot less like Astor Place. We're told the developers failed to receive a zoning variance that the first design depended upon. But could it also be that they thought better of reproducing a building that hardly anyone likes? Gwathmey would not comment..


Aric Chen