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A Sign Of the Times

The New York Times Company's headquarters fills the block between 40th and 41st streets, along 8th Avenue.

In October 1999, the New York Times Company announced that it had entered negotiations with city and state officials to relocate its headquarters from West 43rd Street to a plot between 40th and 41st Street along 8th Avenue, across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Almost six years later, that building is well under way, with steel up to the tenth floor of what will eventually be a 52-story, 1.67-million-square-foot tower.

Along the way, the buildinggwhich is being developed in partnership with Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) and was designed by the Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Fox & Fowleehas faced more than its fair share of bad press. A high-profile lawsuit challenging the city's eminent domain powers to shutter the existing properties on the lot, followed by a poorly received application for Liberty Bonds by FCRC, have left the impression among many New Yorkers that the company was using its position as the city's newspaper of recordd to get sweetheart treatmenttan impression facilitated by the paper's many competitors, most notably the New York Post.

But as real estate and city planning expertssas well as courtssattest, the history of the Times project is one of neither corruption nor favoritism. Rather, it is one of the more high-profile examples of powerful companies making use of the government's immense power to shape the urban landscape, a power often forgotten at a time when a developer seems to be running the show at Ground Zero and the mayor can't rally enough support to build a football stadium. But the story also shows how in New York, even the best-laid urban development plans can turn into a PR nightmare.

In 1980, the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), a state-level public entity, created the 42nd Street Development Project, a 13-acre urban renewal zone along 42nd Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue. The parcel on which the Times building is now rising, though not on 42nd Street, was included in the zone because the ESDC initially saw it as a space for a massive merchandise mart, a plan that was never realized.

There was a sense that the area was blighted in every way and was an underachieving aspect of the city,, said Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association (RPA). The Times parcel was one of last to come together..

The 42nd Street Development Project offered tax breaks to development within the zone and allowed the city to use eminent domain to facilitate new construction. In 1999, these breaks helped convince the Times to select the site for its new headquarters, having outgrown its current location on nearby West 43rd Street.

In February 2000, the Times selected FCRC as its partner in developing the parcel. The building will be split as a condominium between the paper, which will own and operate floors 2 through 28 as well as an adjoining auditorium, with FCRC taking the top 24 floors, which it will lease as office space. The company has yet to find its first tenant.

At the time, the partners said they planned to begin building by late 2000 and that Times staff would move in by 2004. That timeline was perhaps unrealistic; major negotiations did not end until early 2001. The same year, the company announced that Renzo Piano Building Workshop with Fox & Fowle had won an international competition to design the building. By then, the 42nd Street Development Project had proved a remarkable success, having turned a blighted district into a major entertainment zone, adding some 6.4 million square feet of theaters, shopping, restaurants, and hotels.

But the district's transformation was a road paved with legal misfortunes; pre-project Times Square businesses held up the area's sanitizing developments in courts until 1990. The same fate befell the Times project soon after it was announced. The Times, FCRC, and the ESDC were sued by a developer, Gary Barnett, who owned a parking lot to be condemned on the site, accusing the trio of fraud, bad faith and collusion against the taxpayers of New York.. He argued that ESDC had low-balled the property's value and, thanks to the various benefits in the deallincluding an 85 percent rebate if acquisition costs rose above $85 millionnwas playing favorites.

Other New York newspapers jumped on the news and the Times soon found itself in the middle of a PR crisis. But such criticism, experts say, was wildly misplaced.

That's not a fair attack,, said Lynn Sagalyn, a real estate professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has written a history of Times Square's redevelopment. [The site] is and has been from day one a part of the larger 42 Street Development Project, which always intended and did use condemnatory powers. Eminent domain is a historical part of that project and everything was done through the correct legislative procedures..

Working against the Times was the fact that it had come late to the 42nd Street game. By 2000, the district was no longer a street of peep shows and drug dealers but a vibrant, family-friendly district of theaters and chain restaurants. This led many observers to question why the city was giving away such lucrative benefits in an area that was, in their eyes, no longer blighted.

But according to Sagalyn, the area's relative health was irrelevant to ESDC's obligation to redevelop every plot within it. One could say, Let the market do it,' but that's not logical within the context of [the city's] public policy. Getting that site developed was the last piece of [the city's] larger public policy development,, she said.

A series of court rulings concurred, finding that the agency's charge was to do what it thought was best in the long run for the zoneewhich meant, in this case, signing a generous deal to land a high-profile development. About the case, which was dismissed, Justice Martin Schoenfeld of the New York County Supreme Court wrote in April 2002, The urban renewal law authorizes the sale of property to an applicant which does not necessarily offer the highest price but proposes to develop the property in accordance with the purposes of the site's urban renewal program..

Meanwhile, the Times and FCRC found a new enemy in Steve Cuozzo, a real estate reporter for the New York Post who hounded the paper in more than a dozen columns between 2002 and 2004. Cuozzo accused The New York Times of shilling for a partnerr by publishing negative accounts of the downtown real estate market and positive accounts of FCRC's other projects. Catherine Mathis, a spokesperson for the Times, denied any wrongdoings and Cuozzo was never able to move his charges beyond conjecture.

The partners took control of the site in September 2003, but the project was halted again when FCRC found itself unable to secure either a sizable loan or a major tenant. Claiming that the real estate market had deteriorated since the project began, the company had applied for $400 million in Liberty Bonds in July 2003. Congress had set aside $8 billion in Liberty Bonds, of which $2 billion could go outside Lower Manhattan.

The Liberty Bond application once again drew public flak, even though other midtown companies were also applying for Liberty Bond loans and the program in general was undersubscribed. In fact, said Sagalyn, given the relative lack of interest, FCRC's application was actually a good thing. If you're not using the benefits the feds are giving, the feds will be quick to take them back,, she said. (When the authorizing legislation for Liberty Bonds expired in January, only half of the federally approved $8 billion had been allocated.) FCRC's application was nevertheless poorly received downtown, and in May 2004 it dropped the request, announcing a month later that it had secured a $320 million conventional loan from the newly created General Motors Acceptance Corp. (GMAC) Construction.

Though the $800 million project is on track for 2007 completion, yet another wrinkle has arisen, this time involving FCRC's application for $170 million in tax breaks through a state program that encourages brownfield development. But a revision to that program passed earlier this year allows the state to deny funds to projects whose clean-up costs do not represent a significantt portion of the total cost, a change that, according to the Post, some say was designed specifically for the Times building.

We have applied for the program,, said Michelle de Milly, a FCRC spokesperson. No decision has been made..

The building's PR woes seem never-ending. Just two weeks ago, the Village Voice ran the front-page story, Times' to Commoners: Go Elsewhere: Don't soil our publicly subsidized new HQ with your riff-raff,, which took issue with the building's extensive lease restrictions. A Times spokesperson responded by stating that the company and FCRC are seeking tenants that will complement our new building.. When the tower is completed, New York will have seen how to build a first-class building and how hard it is to get it built.
CLAY RISEN IS AN ASSISTANT EDITOR AT THE NEW REPUBLIC AND IS A REGULAR CONTRIBUTOR OF AN.

Credits

 

Project: The New York Times Building

Location: 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st streets

Gross square footage: 1.6 million square feet

Total construction cost: $800 million

Owner: The New York Times Building LLC, a joint venture of the New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner Companies in Partnership with ING Real Estate

Architect: Renzo Piano Building WorkshoppRenzo Piano, principal; Bernard Plattner, principal; Erik Volz, associate; Serge Drouin, designer. Fox & Fowle ArchitectssBruce Fowle, principal; Daniel Kaplan, principal; Gerald Rosenfeld, project manager, Fox & Fowle.

Associate architect: Gensler Architecture, interiors.

Engineer(s): Flack + Kurtz; The Thornton Tomassetti Group

Consultant(s): Landscape:  H.M. White Site Architects, landscape; Office for Visual Interaction, lighting; Susan Brady Lighting, interior Lighting; Cerami & Associates, acoustics; Pentagram, graphics; Jenkins & Huntington, elevator; Heitmann & Associates, exterior wall; Kroll Worldwide, security; Walsh Lowe, tel./data.

Construction Manager: AMEC

Software: Microstation, Prolog Management sSystem

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

Structural system: DCM

Exterior cladding: Benson (metal/glass curtainwall); Haywood Berk (wood)

Glazing: Viracon (glass); Supersky (skylights)

Doors: Seele (entrances); McKeon (fire-control doors, security grilles)

Hardware: Corbin/Russwin (locksets)

Interior finishes: Island Diversified (Interior Marmorino Finish)

Lighting: ERCO (exterior and interior lighting); Lutron (controls)

Conveyance: Fujitec (elevators/escalaters)

Plumbing: Stern (faucets); American Standard (toilets)

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Practically Ready

Studying with a developer, Yale architecture students get a workouttand a jump on the job market. Alec Appelbaum sits in on the crits.

Four pin-ups in four days sounds like the architectural-school analogue to a fraternity's hell week. Yet ten Yale School of Architecture graduates who ran that gauntlet in their last semester say they're healthier for it. One became a smoother presenter. Another learned to detail projects more thoroughly.

A third got a job. They carry these trophies from the first-ever Bass Fellowship, in which a client sits alongside an architect to critique student work. Robert A. M. Stern, Yale's dean, expects the two-headed critiques to produce sharper architects. The graduates of the first round feel sharper, if more tired.

The course aimed to show students that architects must master many disciplines to produce real and memorable buildings. In law school you have moot court,, said Stern. Why should architecture schools be insulated?? The first Bass fellow, developer Gerald Hines, has been a patron of Philip Johnson and other audacious designers. He and co-critic Jay Wyper, who heads Hines' European operations, shattered stereotypes of clients as Armani-clad reptiles. Instead, they established the client as a legitimate voice whose concerns about a building's usability overruled students' thoughts about a building's beauty.

Learning to wrap architectural ideas in practical terms, students applied economic measures to steep ambitions. Ben Albertson and Marissa Brown used this aerial view to urge the developers to consider lifting the whole piazza to encourage circulation. Hines and his deputies warned students that inflexible local regulations often force architects to squeeze ingenuity into narrow constraints.

That voice gained urgency because Hines presented a real project for which real contractors await real drawings. Hines needs an iconicc fashion museum and school in Milan's Piazza Garibaldi, for which Cesar Pelli has just finished a master plan. The developers urged students to concoct eye-popping designs that wouldn't stymie engineers or upbraid regulators. Students refined their projects through rapid-response assessment. The weeks when we had four pin-ups were very difficult, but that was when we learned the most,, said Genevieve Fu, who's joining Dublin-based architecture firm Hennigan.Peng after the summer. Her report validates Stern's plan: Students felt like pinballs in a machine,, he said, but that's how buildings get designed and built..

Students also could never predict who'd eyeball their work. Hines and lead architect-critic Stefan Behnisch missed many sessions, and superstars like Pelli and Greg Lynn joined a midterm jury. Smooth-tempered Manhattan architect Markus Dochantschi served as fulltime critic, helping students throughout the course, synthesizing critics' comments. With a draftsman's efficient movements, Dochantschi rooted on students' ambitions while reinforcing critics' priorities. He raved to a reporter about one team's proposal to dig up the piazza for an elevated tower, but didn't interfere when Wyper questioned the ideas' economics. The true education came through trial by fire,, said Ben Albertson, who proposed the idea. It became apparent that the more concrete our ideas were, the easier they were to sell..

Students sometimes described this lesson as a leash. Their designs showed as much theoretical purism as anything Zaha Hadid never built. Albertson and Marissa Brown argued doggedly for moving the building complex onto higher ground, to encourage more pedestrian traffic. Ceren Bingol pressed to rearrange the entire site in order to promote 24-hour street life. Wyper repeatedly reminded students during the midterm review that the master plan lay outside their writ. But students sacrifice mental enrichment when they lock onto uncontroversial plans. So their work stayed more abstract than what competitive firms might submit. Their descriptions of the work, though, gained professional sheen.

Thinking about developers' quantitative rigor led Bass Fellowship students to try mapping how people might use Hines' proposed project for the Piazza Garibaldi in Milan. Albertson and Brown chart how popular the project's componentssmuseum, school, park, and commercial spaceecan be at different times of day. A Hines rep urged teams to design contextually striking buildings rather than reconfiguring the context.

Click on the image to open full size chart (PDF).

Indeed, Fu credits the critics with making her a more comfortable presenterrand a more marketable architect. I learned to really enjoy presentation,, said Fu. When I was interviewing, [a partner at a firm] said, You seem to like to talk.' It was life-changing in that way.. Dochantschi, who ran Hadid's office in London, says the course's gifts will pay off promptly in the job market. What is incredible for students is they got to think, How can I be more secure and educated about having a productive conversation with a developer?? he said. Had they not had this experience, it could have taken them years..

Yet the 13-week sprint's shifting cast of reviewers left students weary. I don't think working with Wyper and Hines added that much to our experience with clients, because we saw them four times,, said Bingol. She said she gained more enrichment in conversation on field trips to Milan and New York than through pedagogy in New Haven. To be sure, students discovered the importance of consulting with clients as often and clearly as a project requires. But they didn't necessarily codify robust principles to make those consultations efficient.

Wyper wished the course had built a straightforward rationale of client-focused building design. There should be more early classes with developers to discuss the balance of design and commerce,, he said. For our semester, this was done more through discussions and critiques, and I think the osmosis was varied and not optimal..

Ceren Bingol saw Gerald Hines' proposed projectta complex housing a fashion museum and a school in a glum MIlan piazzaaas a way to promote 24-hour street life. She also answered Hines' call for an iconic building, but challenged the edict that her icon had to fit a master plan Hines had already commissioned, from Cesar Pelli.

Dochschanti and Stern enthuse about the Bass Fellowship's potential to establish a common language. They hope its graduates will affirm that sound designs lead to logical, efficient buildingssespecially in the highly regulated and ecologically sensitive cities where major projects occur. Working with a developer as client is relatively new,, Stern said. The complexity of urban settings is relatively new. We have to arm our students.. Students seem mainly to have learned how to translate aesthetic choices into practical terms. That's a crucial skill, but it falls shy of the evolutionary leap Stern seemed to seek.

If the course's two lead critics work in tighter sync, Fu suggested, the theoretical discussions Wyper endorses may engage more students. Behnisch and Hines scarcely knew each other when the semester started. Next year's fellows will be Lord Richard Rogers and developer Stuart Lipton, along with engineer Chris Wise. All three have worked together in London. The tighter coordination between architect and client might erode the disciplinary divide.

For now, that divide remains as beholden to financial reality in New Haven as it does elsewhere. Jonah Gamblin and his partner, Forth Bagley, won the school's top honor for ingenuity with their museum proposal. Yet Gamblin said professors rebuked his decision to go work for Hines' finance office. A lot of architects have to do their own development to get work,, Gamblin reasoned. I don't know where they learn those skills.. To supply students with professional acumen, the Bass studio may have to explain why clients' demands can be as rewarding as they are exhausting.
ALEC APPELBAUM writes about the urban environment for time out NEW YORK, METROPOLIS, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS.

Credits

 

Project: The New York Times Building

Location: 8th Avenue between 40th and 41st streets

Gross square footage: 1.6 million square feet

Total construction cost: $800 million

Owner: The New York Times Building LLC, a joint venture of the New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner Companies in Partnership with ING Real Estate

Architect: Renzo Piano Building WorkshoppRenzo Piano, principal; Bernard Plattner, principal; Erik Volz, associate; Serge Drouin, designer. Fox & Fowle ArchitectssBruce Fowle, principal; Daniel Kaplan, principal; Gerald Rosenfeld, project manager, Fox & Fowle.

Associate architect: Gensler Architecture, interiors.

Engineer(s): Flack + Kurtz; The Thornton Tomassetti Group

Consultant(s): Landscape:  H.M. White Site Architects, landscape; Office for Visual Interaction, lighting; Susan Brady Lighting, interior Lighting; Cerami & Associates, acoustics; Pentagram, graphics; Jenkins & Huntington, elevator; Heitmann & Associates, exterior wall; Kroll Worldwide, security; Walsh Lowe, tel./data.

Construction Manager: AMEC

Software: Microstation, Prolog Management sSystem

GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

Structural system: DCM

Exterior cladding: Benson (metal/glass curtainwall); Haywood Berk (wood)

Glazing: Viracon (glass); Supersky (skylights)

Doors: Seele (entrances); McKeon (fire-control doors, security grilles)

Hardware: Corbin/Russwin (locksets)

Interior finishes: Island Diversified (Interior Marmorino Finish)

Lighting: ERCO (exterior and interior lighting); Lutron (controls)

Conveyance: Fujitec (elevators/escalaters)

Plumbing: Stern (faucets); American Standard (toilets)

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NOW BOARDING: DESTINATION, JFK

Destination Unknown

Eero Saarinen's last work, the TWA Terminal at JFK, will soon enjoy a second, temporary life as a Kunsthalle. And after thattwho knows? As Cathy Lang Ho reports, the future of the modernist masterpiece is as open as the sky.
Photography by Dean Kaufman.

 

Long before Santiago Calatrava unveiled his architectural allegory for flight that will become the downtown PATH station, Eero Saarinen gave New York City a symbol that captured the grace and excitement of the jet age by mimicking the shape of a soaring bird. Since its completion in 1962, the TWA Terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport has served as an icon of both modern air travel and modern design. But its daring gull-winged constructionna reinforced concrete sculpture that tested the limits of its material and of what modernism could beewas the source of its distinction as well as downfall. The building's stand-alone, sinewy form made it difficult to adapt it to the rapidly modernizing airline industry. Larger airplanes, increased passenger flow and automobile traffic, computerized ticketing, handicapped accessibility, and security screening are just a few of the challenges that Terminal 5 (as it's officially known) could not meet without serious alteration. When the terminal closed in 2001 (in the wake of TWA's demise in 1999), no other airline stepped up to take over the space.

 

 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PA) did, however, receive dozens of expressions of interest from sources ranging from the Finnish government to the Municipal Art Society to the Partnership for New York City. We expected to hear from preservationists, cultural organizations, and business people, but what surprised us was the number of requests we got from the general publiccregular people, travelersswho are just deeply interested in this building,, said Ralph Tragale, manager of government and community relations for the Port Authority. One of the requests came from Rachel K. Ward, an independent curator who worked previously with the theme of tourism and the cross influences of global travel and global art in an exhibition in Switzerland. Her particular interest in tourist sites and destinations was the basis of an idea to stage a series of installations that respond to and are situated within the arch-symbol of commercial travel itself. The result, Terminal 5, presents site-specific works by 18 artists, as well as a series of lectures, events, and additional temporary installations (see sidebar), on view from October 1 to January 31. The building is such a potent symbol, representing so many thingssair travel, the 1960s, transitions, globalism,, said Ward. Each artist had a unique response.. First lady of text messaging Jenny Holzer has, naturally, staked out the arrivals and departures board, while Ryoji Ikeda has created a series of light and sound installations for one of the tunnels. In mid-September, Vanessa Beecroft filmed a live performance piece in the terminallher first since 20011 which will be screened in the space. Toland Grinnell, known for his penchant for luggage, will make use of the baggage claim area. What's exciting to me is that the artists are using the building's forms to create works that will only exist in this space,, said Ward. Organizers are trying to arrange a shuttle service from Manhattan, and encourage the use of the new AirTrain.

Ward's timing was an important reason why the PA accepted her proposal. The exhibition's run precedes a long period of construction that will not end until 2008. The exhibition is a great opportunity to let the public enjoy the space,, said Tragale, and to show other potential uses for it.. Plans for Terminal 5's future have been contentious, with a battle played out publicly last year between the PA and preservationists who objected to a new terminal design concept that would have engulfed the landmark. Critics blasted the inital plan's intent to cut off Terminal 5's views of the runway, which motivated the design's floor-to-ceiling windows. They also objected to the idea that it would no longer be used as a functioning terminal. At that time, Kent Barwick, the president of the Municipal Art Society, said, By eliminating use of the terminal, you're condemning the building to a slow death.. Even Philip Johnson, who knew Saarinen, weighed in, telling The Los Angeles Times earlier this year, This building represents a new idea in 20th-century architecture, and yet we are willing to strangle it by enclosing it within another building. If you're going to strangle a building to death, you may as well tear it down..

In October 2003 Jet Blue entered an agreement with the PA to expand its presence at JFK. The upstart domestic airlineethe busiest at JFK, accounting for 7 million of the airport's 30 million passengers yearlyy was initially interested in the possibility of actively using the Saarinen structure but found that the cost to retrofit the relic exceeded that of building an entirely new terminal. Jet Blue commissioned Gensler and Associates to design a new terminal adjacent to Terminal 5, which, though still in concept phase, was released last month. The $850 million, 625,000-square-foot terminal is much smaller and more respectful of its site than the initial concept that so riled preservationists last year. The sheer reduction in size makes it better, but we're still concerned about the terminal being an active space,, said Theodore Prudon, president of DOCOMOMO-US. If it becomes just a left-over space, it's a disservice to the building. Also, it's more vulnerable if it's economically unviable.. Terminal 5 will be used, but the question is how intensely,, said Bill Hooper, senior principal in charge of the project at Gensler. We're still in design development now, trying to figure out how to make as much of the original terminal work.. Gensler's design begins with the renovation of the two tunnels that extend from the terminal to connect to waiting airplanes, known as Flight Wing Tube #1, which was part of Saarinen's original design, and Flight Wing Tube #2, which was designed in the late 1960s by Roche Dinkeloo to support 747s that did not exist when the terminal was first built. A new plaza will occupy the space between the two terminals, allowing visitors a view, until now unseen, toward Terminal 5's backside.

 
   

Beyer Blinder Belle will oversee the structure's restoration to its 1962 state. The process will involve undoing four decades' worth of alterations and additions, such as new baggage rooms and a sun canopy that was attached to the faaade. For its part, Jet Blue has expressed its desire to integrate the Saarinen building into its corporate image. As a result, Gensler's design is low profile, which reflects both its placement behind Terminal 5 and the way Jet Blue does business,, said Hooper. Jet Blue has also made the Terminal 5 exhibition possible, signing on as a major sponsor. After the exhibition closes, the PA will issue an RFP for the structure's adaptive reuse. We've heard ideas for a museum, a restaurant, a conference center,, said Tragale. We're open to what the business community has to offer..
Cathy Lang Ho is an editor at AN.

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

EGOS OVERBOARD
We shudder to think what could have happened at a recent photo shoot for Vanity Fair's November issue, where photographer Robert Polidori was taking a Ground Zero group portrait of Governor George Pataki, developer Larry Silverstein, his architects David Childs and T. J. Gottesdiener of SOM, and their archrivals Daniel and Nina Libeskind. Seeing as how they've collectively shown more mutual animosity and self-serving hubris than a throng of unmedicated stage momssnot to mention the Libeskinds' pending lawsuit against Silverstein for a $843,750 in allegedly unpaid feessnervous onlookers braced for a catfight worthy of a horde of, well, developers, star architects, and politicians. (Add the shoot's location on the 26th floor of 7 World Trade Center, which is still under construction and open to the air, and there was the potential for a horrible accident.. Everyone was afraid someone would get pushed,'' half-jokes one sweaty-palmed witness, and not just out of the picture frame..) Luckily, we're told the bilious bunch behaved for the cameraaproving once again that nothing brings these people together like a good photo op.

BIENNALE HONOR ROLL
It's nice when people help each other out. Take the American pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, which opens this weekend. Earlier this spring, with almost no funding, no exhibition, and no organizer to put one together, things weren't looking good. But in April, at the State Department's request, Architectural Record's editors saved the day and, with their donated time and in a short five months, they got together six firmssincluding locally based Kolatan/MacDonald, Reiser + Umemoto, and Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis>who'll be presenting conceptual proposals in the pavilion for building archetypes like parking garages and stadiums. But what truly touches us are the other firms who donated $5,000 to $10,000 each to help fund the project and support their younger peers. So, great big gold stars go to: Beyer Blinder Belle, Fox & Fowle, Gensler, Kaplan McLaughlin Diaz, Kohn Pedersen Fox, Murphy/Jahn, NBBJ, Pei Cobb Freed, Cesar Pelli, and Perkins Eastman, as well as Miami developer Craig Robbins (who's giving substantially more) and Chicago philanthropist Leah Zell Wanger.

STERN'S CRITICAL JUDGMENT
We actually feel a certain fondness for Robert A. M. Stern. But apparently he doesn't think much of some of our colleagues. This summer, as the NYT was switching architecture critics, our snoops overheard someone asking the historicizingger, sense of placee-makinggarchitect, former Disney board member and Yale dean if any of his students were interested in pursuing criticism. Criticism? What a lowly profession,, we're told Stern sniffed with Howard Roarkian conviction. My students want to build!! Through his rep, Stern tells us he doesn't recall saying anything of the sort.

FRANKIE GOES TO SPRINGFIELD
These days, when he's not hanging out with Brad Pitt or posing for American Express ads (give the guy a break; he deserves a little fun now and then), Frank Gehry might be practicing to sound more like, well, Frank Gehry. We hear the architect is set to make a cameo appearance, as himself, on an episode of The Simpsons this upcoming season. While Gehry's rep could not provide specifics, we understand that, despite that institution's interest in the location (as well as everywhere else), Gehry will not be designing a Guggenheim for Springfield.

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com