...or maybe not
By STEVE FRIESS
"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.
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