Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

Eavesdrop: Aric Chen

Sometimes clients think that, just because they’re footing the bill, they somehow get to make the decisions. Surely, it’s an inconvenience. But Frank Gehry, we hear, has found a wily way to circumvent it. Consider his now-rising west Chelsea headquarters for the media mogul Barry Diller. A loose-lipped insider tells us that Gehry has devised a sneaky scheme to steer Diller’s selection of materials. “If Frank wants to use Douglas fir, he’ll present it to Barry along with crappy plywood, thinking the choice will be obvious,” the source explains. Pretty clever, huh? But Diller is apparently cleverer. “Barry will choose the plywood,” our blabbermouth continues, “just to get Frank to push himself harder.” Gehry could not respond by deadline, so we’ll do it for him: “Harumph!”

As attorney general, Elliot Spitzer’s been known as a man of action. But can architects expect the same if he becomes governor? Maybe. Recently, Spitzer stopped by the Park Avenue home of Barbara Lee Diamondstein-Spielvogelfor a hobnobbing session with design folk including James PolshekAlexander GorlinHugh HardyAmanda Burden, and Dakota Jackson. At one point, architect, author and AN contributor Barbara Nadel asked him about enacting a Good Samaritan law that would indemnify architects and engineers who volunteer their services in emergencies. We hear Spitzer’s response was coy. But that very same night, we’re told one of his staffers e-mailed Diamondstein-Spielvogel, asking to contact Nadel so they could discuss the issue further. Amazing follow-up. Kind of. “Really? I haven’t heard from them yet,” Nadel told us a few days later. “But,” she added, “he does seem on top of things.” 

…that architect Robert Kahn is among the latest candidates to be interviewed for the job of chief architecture curator at MoMA—though we still like the sound of “chief architecture and design curator Paola Antonelli” without the “acting” in front…that Nina Libeskind has taken to wearing red-rimmed eyeglasses, completing her transformation into Sally Jesse Raphael…that Monacelli Pressis about to get its knuckles broken. “There are some angry Italian printers who they owe money to,” a source informs us. We’re told some have waited up to two or three years…that Tsao & McKown will design the Woolworth Building’s condo conversion…that, at last month’s Milan furniture fair, hotelier-developer Ian Schrager approached Ross Lovegrove about buying the crystal-encrusted solar concept car that he’d just unveiled for Swarovski. “I look at it as a piece of art,” a startled Schrager confirmed. “Boy, you’ve got good sources,” he added. Thanks, we know. And that’s why we love them. 

At this point, dearest readers, the time has come to tell you that this columnist is retiring from the gossip trade. It is a sad and happy occasion. Sad because we are parting (though you’ll continue to see us elsewhere in this fine publication). And happy, we’re pleased to announce, because we’re leaving you in the care ofPhilip Nobel, in whose incomparably agile hands our baton will surely shine henceforth. Have no fear: Eavesdrop will continue, better than ever. But as for us, we look back nostalgically at the past two and a half years, knowing that the world’s first architecture gossip column has ripened from its untested beginnings. Along the way, we did our best to be fair. On occasion, we even broke real news. If we offended your sensibilities, we hope you came to see the silliness for what it was. If we embarrassed some of you—well, you probably deserved it. But let’s end on a positive note. We hope you had fun. And know that we’ll still be watching.