Cheery Gehry not weary of theory

The world’s most-renowned living architect, Frank Gehry, stopped by Pratt Institute last week to impart some sage-like wisdom to students and never mentioned that his greatest failure, the Atlantic Yards development, was only blocks away.

Gehry came to the university to address students from the School of Architecture, though it seemed the entire student body was begging ushers for a seat inside the auditorium.

And like any celebrity, Gehry kept the crowd waiting, showing up about 30 minutes late to his own talk — though the throngs of buzzing students did not seem to mind in the least.

Appearing completely at ease, Gehry reminisced about his early days in the architecture business, long before he would design the Guggenheim Musuem at Bilbao, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

The students hung on Gehry’s every word, and laughed generously at his jokes.

Gehry’s modesty, casual dress, and colloquial style did nothing to diminish his presence. Nor did his Atlantic Yards designs projected onto the stage before he arrived, though the developer, Bruce Ratner, fired Gehry last year to go in a different (and cheaper) direction.

Instead of addressing any particular projects, Julie Iovine, the executive editor of the Architect’s Newspaper, and the author Yael Reisner, tried to encourage Gehry to give advice to the students, while also engaging in the obligatory hyper-academic discussion about “beauty.”

Amid all the abstract talk, Gehry reminded the students that an architect’s job was to provide a service and deliver a unique product.

He told the hundreds of budding architects, “Be yourself, and you’ll like what you do.”