6. Frank Gehry’s Starchitect Influence Was Not Calculated in the Revenue Models


In retrospect, it seems like a sure bet that a skyscraper designed by Frank Gehry would be a financial success. But the architect to that point had been known for iconic museums like the Guggenheim Bilbao, office buildings like the IAC Building on New York City’s west side, and institutional buildings like the campus at M.I.T.and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. New York by Gehry remains Gehry’s only super tall skyscraper, though more are in the works now.

MaryAnne Gilmartin, president and CEO of Forest City Ratner says, “We didn’t try to take any credit for Frank. Nobody could prove that the building was going to produce a greater per square foot value.” The project was financed akin to a “standard high-performing rental tower,” despite the developer paying a premium for a Frank Gehry design.

Nonetheless, Gehry’s name still came in handy in other parts of the process. According to the Urban Land Institute, New York Downtown Hospital saw the PR appeal of a development designed by a starchitect. It hoped that a design by Frank Gehry would give the hospital cache by association, which “in turn would help attract high-quality doctors.” In addition, Gehry lent his name to the building (Thus, New York by Gehry) as a gesture to secure funding.