; LOST IN THE FUNHOUSE
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LOST IN THE FUNHOUSE

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The Ray and Maria Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an outlandish cartoon village in listing brick and scrolling aluminum, with a Mobius-strip main corridor inside. But then you see it, that universal symbol of malfunction: an orange mechanical lift. And now the school has turned to the courts to express its buyer's remorse. A lawsuit filed in October against both the construction firm and the architect alleges design and construction failures, negligence, and breach of contract. The suit grabbed headlines because the architect's name is Frank Gehry, fueling a backlash against celebrity architects and their flashy designs. Because Gehry was the architect, his reputation will suffer just as much as MIT's. To protect their status and multimillion-dollar fees, perhaps star architects are going to have to pay more attention to how their fantastic, otherworldly designs are brought down to earth.

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