My Life as an Architect
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An architect who created a casino for The Donald in Atlantic City and a hotel for Donald Duck fans at Disney World reviews his life and decides it’s been awesome.

The 70-year-old Lapidus’s first book proves that gifts in one art are not necessarily transferable. He begins with a funny, Larry McMurtry-esque sentence—“Mrs. Axelrod wanted an ocean view from her bidet”—but the elevator of eloquence drops precipitously thereafter. Nor is the text particularly well organized. Mrs. Axelrod’s bidet is followed by a scattershot resume of his career and some equally scattershot comments about the portrayal of architects in movies before the author gets down to business with a phone call from Donald Trump (whose posterior this lipsticky text decorates throughout) and the subsequent building of Trump Plaza. Then he moves back to confess some boyhood anxieties. Dad, aka Morris Lapidus, the far-more-famous-than-Alan architect who designed Miami’s Fontainebleau Hotel, wasn’t very warm. The author skims lightly over military service and the Columbia University School of Architecture to spend more time on the apprentice years with Morris, who didn’t like to praise his son. Alan’s first major project in the late 1960s was a huge swimming pool in Bedford-Stuyvesant; he was pleased that his work, not Dad’s, got kudos from Ada Louise Huxtable, the formidable architecture critic for the New York Times. But apparently public projects weren’t profitable enough, so off he went to the Caribbean, where he made his bones with beautiful buildings that actually functioned well. Then to Atlantic City for casinos, to Disney and New York for hotels. Later came some financial setbacks (bankruptcy), the devastating 9/11 attack and some interesting projects in Cuba and Moscow and Brazil that didn’t always work out. The author is certainly comfortable in the world of fat bank accounts and soaring egos; readers may wonder about his values as he gleefully describes the way casinos seduce customers.

Not nearly so charming as the lobbies Lapidus designs.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-312-36166-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2007