Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

Architects may have outsized egos buttif there was any question beforeeHerbert Muschamp’s may be out of control. As of press time, rumors were swirling that the NYT architecture critic has been making life difficult for the publishers of the forthcoming book Imagining Ground Zero: Official and Unofficial Schemes for the World Trade Center Competition (Rizzoli and Architectural Record). It seems the book’s author, Record editor Suzanne Stephens, wants to include schemes from the September 8, 2002, designer-palooza featured in the NYT Magazine in which Muschamp asked architectssincluding Charles Gwathmey, Peter Eisenman, Richard Meier, Zaha Hadid, and Rem Koolhaas>to contribute plans for Ground Zero. However, He’s been calling the architects and telling them not to let their work be published,, says a designer familiar with the fiasco, and several of them are complying.. Why would Muschamp want to interfere, when the NYT itself has acknowledged it doesn’t own the rights to the designs? He was asked to write about the projects in the book,, the source continues, so it can’t be that he just feels left out. The only answer would have to be power.. While the story is still developing, we’ve learned that Rizzoli is exploring legal options and, though they wouldn’t give an explanation, the offices of several of the architects we contacted, including Meier, confirmed they don’t intend to provide the plans in question. Both Stephens and her Rizzoli editor declined comment, and Muschamp did not return calls.

Don’t expect any more Target toothbrushes from Philippe Starck. The Frenchman has had his fill of big, American clients. At the SoHo MoMA Design Store earlier this month for the launch of a travel clock and weather monitoring device he designed for Oregon Scientific (which, for the record, is based in Hong Kong), the colorful designer talked to us about everything from how high atmospheric pressure gives him the blues to how one can make lovee in just 15 minutes. (Okay, we’re leaving out some context here, but you get the idea.) Wanting to change subjects, we asked about a rumor we’d heard that he was designing a new W Hotel. It’s not true. I don’t want to work anymore with big American companies,, Starck snapped. When pressed to elaborate, he would only offer: Because they’re big and American. Think about it..

We don’t like them, either. But could it really be that Richard Meier has never, ever in his 69 years been to a shopping mall? At last month’s much-ballyhooed opening of the new AOL Time Warner Center, one of our spies overheard the architect confessing as much in the complex’s mall, er, urban retail center,, as its developers insist on calling it. This is so interesting. I’ve never been to a mall before,, our snoop reports Meier admitting in all seriousness. What? Not even out of curiosity? Not even when malls made, like, totally trendy social commentary? Meier’s rep points out that he recently visited quite a few of themm to look at different retail outlets for research,, before adding, He has a very compressed schedule and doesn’t have a lot of time to go shopping, period..

LET SLIP:achen@archpaper.com