All the scenes set in the Guggenheim were shot in the museum's rotunda, including the shots of Barney climbing the ramps. With a four-day window to set-up, film, and break down the set, Ryle appropriately describes it as being the Mount Everest of shoots. "It was a circus," says Ryle, "there was the equipment for the bands, dancing girls, the cameras, the lighting equipment…. And the museum was still open, so there were people watching the shoot."
Barney got the idea for the demolition derby from the fact that in the 1930's, there was a car showroom on the ground floor of the Chrysler Building. The lobby set was among the last to be built. The entire scene was built and filmed in a warehouse in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Before the set was built, the walls, floors, and ceilings of the actual lobby were photographed and after some Photoshop work, reproduced on vinyl and paper by a billboard company. The lobby that appears in the film is mostly made of paper glued on 1/4" plywood board. The set had to be impact-proof, so all of the walls were constructed in front of six-ton concrete blocks. Red clay dust, matching the marble in the lobby, was added to the wall cavities, so any impact would look like marble being pulverized. The dimensions of the set are slightly larger than those of the actual lobby. Yet, according to Ryle, "Once six cars are placed in what seems like a relatively large space, it all of a sudden becomes a lot smaller." The set took around six weeks to build.
For the actual scene, the production crew purchased five 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperials and one 1938 Chrysler Imperial New Yorker. The first couple days of filming were spent choreographing the crashes. The drivers often communicated through walkie-talkies as they circled and took turns ramming into the 1938 model. Each day, a piece of the 1938 model was removed to give the effect of its being pulverized. In the last couple of shots, Barney pretty much turned the cars loose on each other. "At night, the drivers would have a couple beers with dinner," says Ryle, "By around 2 AM they were ready to pummel each other and the set. The drivers were all good friends, so they knew their limits." It took four days of filming and several sixpacks of beer to finally bring down the set.
In a film that celebrates the dual urges of creation and destruction, it is only appropriate that this theme is reflected in the making of the film itself. Perhaps, for Barney, the film and its creation are two processes that mirror each other: in the end, the tower is the only character left standing. Both the architect and apprentice are struck down, presumably for their arrogance. The vicious 1967 Chrysler Crown Imperials have left its lobby, and its spire remains poking through the New York City skyline. The tower outlives its creators, just as the film or the artwork itself survives the process of its creation.