CELEBRATE: Boston Book Festival

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Architectural Discussion with Frank Gehry at Trinity Church

The Boston Book Festival is an event held annually “to promote a culture of reading and ideas.” In the spirit of that promotion, an Architecture lecture is always a part of the event schedule. Two years prior, Norman Foster had been the guest, and what an articulate, comprehensive, and inspiring lecture it was. His descriptions of the projects presented were as structured and objective as his actual works of architecture are. So it wasn’t outlandish to hope that Gehry may provide some similar semblance of a great show.

That was not the case. He was not articulate. The first sentence out of the renowned architect’s mouth was met with shouts from the audience to speak up. It became clear, right away, that there was no lecture outline. As photos of Gehry’s work popped up on the big screen, he seemed as surprised as the audience. He was not comprehensive. Perhaps it was an effort to “dumb-down” the architecture behind the architecture for the sake of clarity, but that tactic only made Gehry sound ignorant. His comprehension of the work gave the impression that he has no association with it beyond a final sign off. Needless to say, he was not inspiring either.

I’ll admit I’m biased; I was not a fan of his work going in to the lecture, but I know that Gehry’s background has caused him to overcome much adversity in the profession. Unfortunately, his presentation of himself was lackluster. Sorry, Frank. Maybe next time, prep by reading the book about your work that the moderator kept pimping!

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