Karrie Jacobs


April 8, 2011

Q. What Does Frank Gehry Have in Common with Robert Scarano?

Top: Robert Scarano addition to a warehouse on Carroll St., Brooklyn (NY Times photo by Gabrielle Plucknette). Bottom: Frank Gehry’s museum for the Louis Vuitton Foundation.

A. The mezzanine trick.

From the very entertaining March 18 NY Times Magazine feature by Andrew Rice on Brooklyn’s least loved architect, Robert Scarano:

In early 2006, after a meticulous review, the city filed a series of civil charges against Scarano in an administrative court, among other things claiming that he “made false or misleading statements” in submissions for 25 self-certified projects. Most of the violations concerned mezzanines. The buildings department had just promulgated new guidelines, holding that if the mezzanines had more than five feet of headroom, they could not count as storage space.

From today’s New York Times article on a Parisian neighborhood’s  opposition to a museum Frank Gehry designed for Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault:

In addition, they say, the 150-foot-high building violates height requirements by cleverly using an architectural subterfuge, creating split-level mezzanines inside that are not formally “floors,” to get around a legal restriction banning buildings higher than two floors.

Mais, non!  It is not a floor.  It is a mezzanine.   Paris or New York,  starchitect or a hack, the same trick fools the buildings department.  Incroyable!