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The NY Times explores what happens to celebrity architects’ drawings, models and telephone logs culled from decades in the design trenches. Hint: They’re for sale.

Frank Gehry is the prime starchitect examined in the article. Gehry’s archive includes 30,000 square feet of models, a slide library, a digital archive and 5,000-plus drawings, what someone called a "beast." The Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal offered Gehry $1.5 million for papers and drawings related to a house he designed for philanthropist Peter Lewis, but Gehry declined because he didn’t want to divide up his work. According to Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art, a Frank Gehry archive would cost the institution multimillions. Gehry told the Times, “I don’t want to give it away – it’s an asset."

Archives, according to the Times, are generally donated, not sold because institutions that acquire them do not have large budgets and donors usually are concerned with finding a home for their work. In other words, most museums can’t afford six- or seven-figure purchases. The Mies van der Rohe archive at MoMA requires the staff of a library in order for the materials to be accessible to researchers. And then there’s the money required for storing, processing and making it available to the public in the first place.

“There is a huge seismic shift,” Mr. Bergdoll said. “It used to be architects would be so grateful that there was someone interested in dedicating space to their work, and they would donate it. Now architects view their designs as a kind of profit center. Architects are getting valuations of them as though they were selling the studio of Picasso.”

Gehry=Picasso? Hmm. And if you saw the Gehry show at the Guggenheim a few years back, you probably have a sense of what might be in his archive.

Photograph by Jake Dobkin