The invitation billed it as an exclusive conversation about “the potential of architecture for urban, economic, and political change.” But when Frank Gehry and Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum, sat down before the mics after one and half hours of benefit chow at a new Wall Street steakhouse and just 15 minutes before the event was to end, the talk, like the $200/plate mashed potatoes and pureed spinach, was noticeably soft.
With a game intro by the restaurateur of The Capital Grille referencing Gehry’s Experience Music Project in Seattle and his new project in “Abu Dhabi Dubai,” the chatter was off to an equally idiosyncratic start. Armstrong asked the famed architect about Frank Lloyd Wright. “Mostly, I stayed away from him, like everyone at Harvard and because I was a liberal do-gooder, and Wright was antithetical to all that,” Gehry said, adding that he went out of his away to avoid Wright when he came to give a lecture, citing his “totalitarian humanism.”
Gehry explained that he evenutally gave in and drove off to Taliesin with his wife and two daughters all packed into the VW. They arrived and the flag was up the mast, indicating that the master was in residence. Driving up to the gatehouse, Gehry was informed that the entry fee was a dollar each for himself, his wife, and his two children. “I told them to shove off, and drove away,” Gehry said.