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Eavesdrop: Aric Chen
The latest dirt from our very own gossip columnist, Aric Chen.

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.

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.

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.

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.


Aric Chen