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Frank Gehry Text-Message Breaks Up With the V&A

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry’s not having a great 2010. He faced the new year with a leaking Gallery of Ontario, the loss of the major Atlantic Yards development gig, Beekman Tower–his first residential project–cut in half to 36 stories, and a high-profile abandoning of Jerusalem’s Museum of Tolerance.

It just got worse. Poor little Dundee, Scotland hoped Gehry would grace the town with another bit of signature flash–he built a tiny cancer daycare center there in 2003 (right)–making Dundee the only European city to boast two of his buildings. But Frank had bigger fish to fry.

Frank Gehry

The city held a contest for the 75,000 square foot, $74 million museum–a branch of London’s Victoria & Albert art and design museum. It appeared a formality though–Dundee was keen on Gehry from the beginning and it seemed he was the clear front-runner. Then last weekend Gehry called up the local architect in charge of the project and pulled out of the competition. His office apparently confirmed with a text message (a common way to break up, apparently.)

The reason? Gehry’s too busy golfing. That is, working on his 194,000-square-foot clubhouse on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi (above). (It’ll be his second building in Abu Dhabi, by the way, once his Guggenheim outpost there is completed.) Does this mean the famed Bilbao effect is officially dead? Gehry, the man who invented the idea that one astonishing building could pull a sleepy town into the global spotlight, snubbed Dundee, Scotland in favor of what has been the center of world’s attention for most of the last decade. While Dundee hopes to land another starchitect, it might be fated to be proclaim forever, “Gehry (almost) slept here.”WB