Gehry reluctantly looks abroad, as U.S. development slows

October 27, 2011 09:28AM

Architect Frank Gehry, whose recently completed 900-unit rental building at 8 Spruce Street is now about two-thirds occupied, has been forced to look for projects in China and India as development continues to stagnate in America. Bloomberg News reported that Gehry’s in competition to land a museum project in a Chinese metropolis and a spiritual building in India.

“There’s an art explosion in China,” Gehry said, “it’s really great — very exciting.”

But the 82-year-old admits he’d still prefer to work on U.S. projects in California and New York. One problem with working abroad is that the pay is lower. Architects for projects in China, for example, get paid a percentage of construction costs, which are far less than they are in comparable United States projects. As a result, Gehry can’t afford to pay typical salaries to his team.

“It almost forces you to open an office in China and work with local people,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gehry’s Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum was stalled as the emirate reduces the cost of plans set before the global economic downturn. He’s also been commissioned to design a Dwight Eisenhower memorial in Washington and a business school building in Sydney, Australia. [Bloomberg News]