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02.27.2008
Eavesdrop: Alissa Walker

FED UP IN FEBRUARY
As LA’s Grand Avenue Watch reaches fever pitch, Frank Gehry called out developer Related for the project’s mysterious disappearing groundbreaking date. As reported by Blogdowntown, Gehry was naming names: “Money is not available and the developer is in denial.” Looks like he’s finally reached breaking point: With his scheme completed, Gehry’s said to have walked away as lead architect, deferring to the team at HKS Architects. Across town, Renzo Pianoplayed nice with philanthropist Eli Broad and LACMA director Michael Govan at the opening of the Broad Contemporary Museum of Art. But things aren’t going so swimmingly at his California Academy of Sciences project in San Francisco. Sources say Hodgetts + Fung, who were commissioned to design exhibitions, bolted because Piano bossed them around. He probably wanted everything in Renzo Red.

YOU WIN SOM, YOU LOSE SOM
Lose one Transbay Terminal competition and the whole world falls apart, huh? Word on the street is that Skidmore Owings & Merrill's San Francisco office is positioning itself for sale. The signs are obvious: The equity partners have declined to name new partners, and they’ve “downgraded” all non-equity partners to “directors.” Firm principal Craig Hartman denies sale rumors and says the changes make the firm “less hierarchical” and give emerging talent more voice. But we hear the holiday party was boycotted by “directors” miffed about exclusion from the inner circle. They say it’s all about the cash: The partners don’t want to share their buyout payoffs. “It’s typical of this generation of partners to feather their own nest at the expense of the firm,” a source says. But can you blame them? They’re following the lead of Lord Norman Foster who last year sold a minority share in his firm to private equity firm 3i. Worked great for him.

WON’T YOU BP MY NEIGHBOR
On February 11 the eco-aspirational gas company BP unveiled Will Ferrell as the latest to participate in its Solar Neighbors program, joining a lineup of hotties like Edward NortonOwen Wilson, and Don Cheadle. The program brings solar energy to low-income neighborhoods by matching solar purchases that celebrities make for their own homes. Ferrell’s donation benefits the multi-unit St. George housing project on LA’s Skid Row, where residents are already said to be saving hundreds on their monthly utility bills. Perhaps this will balance out Ferrell’s environmentally blasphemous “Green Team” parody he made for his website Funny or Die. Highlights included this advice from Ferrell: “A compost bin is a great place to store a baby when you’re finished with him.” We admit it, we laughed. Hard. 

Alissa Walker