“My name’s Frank Gehry, and my buildings don't leak," announced the architect at last night's Guggenheim International Gala. He was referring to the lawsuit filed against him by MIT last week, which says that flawed design enabled mold to grow, leaks to spring up, and drainage problems to occur in his $300 million Stata Center. It had been in all the papers. "Why do the press want to tear down success?" he wondered later. Hm. They're just jealous? That's what people always tell us, anyway. But why is it that Gehry is always so controversial? For instance, he is often credited with the so-called Bilbao Effect, where museums across the country and around the world have begun expanding their buildings with costly, high-profile expansions and new satellites. He shakes this off. "I didn’t make the word the 'Bilbao Effect,' the reporters did that, as they created the word 'starchitect' — reporters did that," he said. "Reporters now try to tear people down for being part of the 'Bilbao Effect' or being 'starchitects.' I’m not a starchitect."
Nearby, Owen Wilson contemplated a Zhang Huan Ash painting. He was wearing a caramel-colored suit. "I don’t really feel like talking," he had said earlier. Across the room Stephanie Seymour, Tony Bennett, and Dennis Hopper spoke in quiet tones. "I’m not interested in the 'Bilbao Effect,'" Gehry continued. "I just did a building. Ten years later, the building doesn’t leak, it didn’t rust, it’s holding up, people are still coming, and it’s turning out to be a very positive financial gain to the community." Ann Philbin, the director of the Hammer Museum, appeared at Gehry's side. "Are you having an interview now?" she asked. "We’re talking about leaks!" Gehry said. "What?" Philbin asked. "Leaks!" the architect said. "It doesn’t leak!" Philbin shrugged. "If he says it doesn’t leak, it doesn’t leak!" —Andrew Goldstein