Frank Gehry Saved Us All From Another Critic Writing Fiction

Book party for new Frank Gehry bio brought together New York’s architecture community

The cover of Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, by Paul Goldberger.

The cover of Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, by Paul Goldberger.

“I could have written a novel, which probably would have been a disaster,” Paul Goldberger, former New Yorker architecture critic and now Frank Gehry biographer told a crowd of real estate and architecture fanboys at New York by Gehry last night. “So thank you,” he told the architect, who was holed up at home in L.A. due to recent back surgery and missed the party, for preventing that.

Last night, the contributing editor for Vanity Fair told the Observer about his profound respect for Mr. Gehry.

“I think he is the most important living architect at the moment,” he said. “I’m very interested in where serious culture and where popular culture intersect; where innovative and cutting edge becomes popular culture. Frank Gehry is probably the example of that in architecture now.”

From left: Paul Goldberger and Thom Mayne.

From left: Paul Goldberger and Thom Mayne.

The crowd, assembled at the Gehry project at 8 Spruce Street (the building’s developer, Forest City Ratner, hosted) for a sort of late and not-too-intimate book party, boasted many of the city’s name architects, including Annabelle Seldorf, Cesar Pelli and Thom Mayne.

Mr. Pelli said he was “two-thirds of the way,” through the book and it was “very good.”

Mr. Goldberger says one architect isn’t entirely pleased with the book, however: Mr. Gehry. That seems like a good sign.

“If he did love every word of it I wouldn’t have done my job as a journalist,” Mr. Goldberger said. Mr. Gehry’s least favorite bits concern his difficult first marriage and his relationship to his children, the author said. Mr. Gehry cooperated fully with the book.

FCR CEO MaryAnne Gilmartin and fellow real estate star Mary Ann Tighe, CBRE’s Tri-state CEO, were also in attendance, as were enough fellow journalists to bring the median household income down perceptibly.

From left: Mary Ann Tighe and MaryAnne Gilmartin.

From left: Mary Ann Tighe and MaryAnne Gilmartin.

Guests sipped Veuve while glancing up into the wavy outlines of the building, one of the 86-year-old architect’s more restrained efforts. (His other work, for anyone living under a rock for the last 20 years, includes the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and his very cool private residence in Santa Monica).

Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, came out last month, from Knopf.

So what was it that made the Pulitzer winner put off that terrible novel and take on the Pritzker winner? “He’s the most important combination of iron will and determination and vulnerability,” said Mr. Goldberger. “He’s really interested in physical comfort and people liking his things. He worries enormously about his work.”

Frank Gehry Saved Us All From Another Critic Writing Fiction