Wednesday, April 7, 2010

This week's LVW col: Frank Gehry

Here's this week's LVW column the Vegasy stuff that didn't fit in my forthcoming NYT piece on the Ruvo Center. You'll be able to hear Gehry for yourselves on the next episode of The Strip, a very rare opportunity as he does very few in-depth interviews at all, let alone ones used for radio or podcast. Join us 5-6 pm PT at LVRocks.Com for that. -sf

Frank Gehry likes Vegas...
...or maybe not



"I’m fascinated with some of the architecture, fascinated with it,” the legend on the line insisted. “I mean, that little one with the castle that looks like a cartoon?”

“Yeah, the Excalibur,” I answered knowingly, expecting a punch line.

“That knocks my socks off,” the legend said in all seriousness. “You never see anything like that on that scale outside of Disneyland, you know? But Disneyland doesn’t ever build it that big. So it’s fascinating to see—it’s enlightening too. It’s interesting. That’s one of my favorite buildings there.”

In my head, I’m saying, Are you shitting me? But you don’t ask a man like Frank Gehry that question. At least not that way. Instead, I said it this way: “The Excalibur castle is your favorite building on the Strip?”

He laughed. “It’s one of my favorites.”

Shhh. Don’t tell Cesar Pelli, who gave us Aria, or Helmut Jahn, who designed the Veer. Or certainly not Lord Norman Foster, who has had the ignominy of envisioning a hotel-condo tower for CityCenter, only to have it shorn nearly in half because of construction defects, and then used as a billboard for an Elvis show. CityCenter’s fine, but $8.5 billion later, the man known—debatably, but still known—as the Greatest Living Architect has a soft spot for ... the Ex?

“One of the critiques of CityCenter is that the architecture is evocative of architecture of a lot of other cities,” Gehry said. “I know Vegas is trying to become a real city, so that’s the discussion and they kind of achieved it. But when you see it finished you say, ‘God, I wish it were more Vegas.’”

It’s such a strange remark, especially considering that the fact that we now have a Gehry building is also part of the discussion of Vegas becoming “a real city.” But that was the strange tension that ran throughout my half-hour interview with the 81-year-old visionary, a vacillation from what would seem like indictments to high praise for our city.

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com


mike_ch said...

I don't know what the heck is weirder, Frank Gehry calling for "more Vegas" or his comment that "Disneyland doesn’t ever build it that big" when their castles are typically 170-200ft tall save for the original in California (and it's new twin in Hong Kong.)

In fact, the only reason Orlando's isn't bigger is because they'd have to have a blinking red light like a high-rise which would look very out of character for a gothic castle. The Ex, meanwhile, does have blinking red lights on it's hotel towers of course, though I'm not sure if that makes it look cornier given that we're talking about a casino.

I'm almost inclined to think Gehry pulled your leg once or twice there. :O


Mike - hear fro yourself on Saturday or thereafter. I'll be interested in hearing what you make of him. This is why I love being able to play these conversations! said...

Gehry's Art Of The Motorcycle (which he referenced in the podcast interview) was actually pretty cool. We did a feature on it way back then: