Archives For Frank Gehry

In 1989, Kevin Costner uttered the iconic words “If you build it, he will come . . .” in the beloved melodrama Field of Dreams. Approximately ten years later, these words seemingly became architectural truth when Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao opened, which, highly arguably, saved the deteriorating city’s local economy. It was at this moment, when witnessing the Bilbao Effect, that architects, designers, and planners began viewing architecture as a possible impetus, and not the result of economic stimulus. Kevin Costner and Frank Gehry planted the seeds for this philosophy: build first, work out the details later.

Then came China. In the early 2000s, the Chinese government, sitting on an enormous trade surplus and seeing only greater economic boom in their future, made the decision to build hundreds of urban areas in which hundreds of millions of people would move to from rural areas. They built, and then they waited. But, nobody came.

There were a couple of hiccups along the way. First, it’s not so easy to uproot your life and move to a brand new area you’re completely unfamiliar with—especially when this place is empty with no jobs, and no one else seems to be going. Second, there was this little thing that happened during the construction project known as the Global Economic Crisis.

Most notably of China’s many vacant Ghost Cities, is Ordos, a city in Inner Mongolia, which was the place of Ai Weiwei’s famous Ordos 100 competition. Curated by Herzog and de Meuron, architects from around the world sent designs in a 100-day competition to build avant-garde residences. Today, it’s a few abandoned shells in a vast desert.

Atmospheric modern architecture is compelling and adds value to the quality of life of a city, but is it enough to attract inhabitants and boost local economies? Below is a photo of the Ordos Art Museum, designed by MAD Architects, with its polished metal cover and subtle undulation. Truly a work of art, it was completed in 2011. Yet, this museum has no website. They have no exhibitions. It’s unclear what it’s even doing.


By: David Plick

Via Flickr by Alec Perkins

Via Flickr by Alec Perkins

Now, it just would seem plain-old dumb to tear down a starchitect’s first project in NYC, wouldn’t it? Thank goodness the Durst Organization had better ideas, The New York Times reported.

“It’s aged very well,” Douglas Durst said, speaking of the cafeteria Frank Gehry designed for the Condé Nast building. “There’s no feeling that it’s from a different era at all.”

The year was 2000, and Frank Gehry had just achieved the impossible with his Guggenheim Bilbao. His friend, S.I. Newhouse, Jr., who was the chairman of Condé Nast at the time, asked Gehry if he would design a restaurant for the media empire’s employees. While this was a small-scale job for Gehry at the time, he took the opportunity so he could finally climb the NYC hurdle, something that remained elusive to him for years.

He approached the project in a similar way to Bilbao, and curved enormous glass panels that weighed 800 pounds giving them a billowing effect. In contrast to the glass, there are blue, rolling titanium walls surrounding the room. These waves in the titanium created seamless and flowing banquettes for groups of Condé Nast editors and writers to gather, eat, and gossip during their lunch break. To mix in more color, Gehry added stunning yellow tabletops.

Durst says they’re keeping Gehry’s designs intact because they want to use it to attract potential clients to their building. Good for them—what a perk it was to buy a building with an internationally famous artist’s work in it, right?

By: David Plick

Via flickr by Milo and Silvia in the World

Via flickr by Milo and Silvia in the World

He’s one of those divisive artists you either love or hate, so will the Frank Gehry exhibition at LACMA, simply entitled “Frank Gehry” be any different?

We think so.

Because whether or not you are an admirer of his work, the exhibit is important to Los Angeles simply because Gehry is an essential part of the urban design of the city. He’s been based out of Los Angeles since 1962, and contributed arguably its most important structure—the Walt Disney Concert Hall, not to mention Santa Monica Place, the California Science Center, his home in Santa Monica, and many other landmark residences which have established Southern California as a place to turn to for the new kind of urban living. Gehry has also been revolutionary in terms of engineering, most notably through his use of a machine called CATIA, a software tool used in aviation and automobile industries, which manipulates 3-D representations digitally. The exhibit showcases over sixty projects through hundreds of drawings and sixty models.

The exhibit will show upcoming and recent work including Gehry’s design for Facebook’s campus in Silicon Valley, his transformation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the architect’s most recent residential jobs—both private homes and large-scale developments. You will not be surprised to discover that the exhibition itself was designed by Gehry Partners.

Frank Gehry won the Pritzker Arhcitecture Prize in 1989.

The Frank Gehry exhibit at LACMA will run until March 2016.

By: David Plick

51B9q0pgZ0L._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_“Architecture is all around us,” announced Curbed editor-in-chief, Kelsey Keith, at the beginning of the Brooklyn Book Festival’s panel entitled “The Culture of Architecture” featuring Pulitzer Prize winning architectural critic, Paul Goldberger, and architect and author, Witold Rybcznski. A perfect location to say this as we sat in Downtown Brooklyn in the shadows of DUMBO, the cranes hoisting up Bjarne Ingel’s World Trade Center Two, and Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street.

It was a good crowd. They laughed at all of Paul Goldberger jokes about Frank Gehry and Philip Johnson. They oo’d and ahh’d at Rybcznski’s brilliant ideas about the role of the critic in the construction (or destruction) of buildings, how globalization could be ruining the local architecture and feel of a place—a great line he said was, “You can’t just parachute into a city and understand it.”

Another highlight was both of these men’s beliefs that architectural contests are unfair and immoral—both for the architects themselves and the general public. Goldberger complained that these contests exploit architects by forcing them to do work for free—a great deal of work goes into their designs, which could easily be discarded without any form of payment. Rybcznski also criticized contests saying the judge panels are mostly formed of non-architects whom do not have the background and/or education needed to make informed design decisions.

“The Culture of Architecture” asked many questions—what is the role of the critic in the starchitecture system? Are architects famous, and does that matter for the future of their designs? But throughout all of this inquiry, there was the very noticeable energy in the room that these questions would always continue as criticism does, but perhaps more importantly, that this moment in this room was to be shared amongst a group of people inspired by this timeless art with two experts who were immensely passionate about the subject. It was a time to celebrate the form, which, yes, is underrated and underappreciated, but that everyone in that room was in on a little secret: that architecture still is a part of our everyday lives. It was there with us during our drive to work today, during our train ride, during brunch on the weekend—every time we visit a new city and notice the differences. It’s the blueprint of our past, our present, and our future.

Which is why the conversation continues, as it does for these two men right here: Goldberger’s book, Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, is out now from Knopf; Rybcznski’s Mysteries of the Mall: And Other Essays has been released by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

By: David Plick

Lous VuittonRight outside the périphérique in Paris, in the chic banlieue Neuilly-sur-Seine, lies the Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum designed by Frank Gehry, which is dedicated to the spread and cultivation of arts and culture. It is also the home of the personal art collection of Bernard Arnault, the chairman of LVMH (Louis Vuitton / Moët-Hennessy).

Approaching Fondation Louis Vuitton through the Bois de Bologne (Boulogne Woods) is probably very similar to the experience of finding a shipwrecked spaceship in the forest. In one moment you’re walking through nature enjoying the simple comfort of trees and leaves, flowers blooming, birds chirping, and then you come upon a shocking and imposing glowing image. This might be a good time to remind yourself that you’re in Paris, and not the Yukon Territory.

In the distance as this structure becomes larger and more imposing, Paris’s financial district, La Défense, reveals itself to you with its futuristic skyscrapers. Really, if there’s anything that “works” in accordance with Fondation Louis Vuitton, it’s these images off at the edge of your vision. And while it is true that Frank Gehry’s design does not seek to blend in with its surroundings, but rather, tries to defeat them, it is still an elegant and fluid building. The movement of the fragmented outer shell created by the twelve glass sails gives the feeling of movement, as if the museum could fly away, and the system of steel and wood beams do give it a sense of calm. The most enjoyable experience as a viewer of this museum is certainly the top floor outdoor terraces with its patches of nature intertwined with sculptural art pieces. It’s a place of Zen where you can be in the city but away from it. You have the feeling of being in the middle of it all, yet completely separate.

Viewing art, on the other hand, can be a struggle. As I navigated through Fondation Louis Vuitton I found myself not knowing where to go, and a couple times I literally thought to myself, “Where is the art?” which is probably not a good question to be asking yourself in a museum. The layout is very unclear once you do succeed in finding art. Once I was walking through an exhibition space in the wrong direction and a guard stopped to tell me I should be going the other way. And finally, I lost the group of friends I was with.

Perhaps this was Frank Gehry’s intention when he designed the building. Maybe he didn’t want the art inside to take away from his elegance? Or maybe he wanted to design a building you could get lost in? Perhaps there is something kind of charming about that type of artistic experience.

When I exited Fondation Louis Vuitton I saw someone had written in the guest book something that best sums up this museum’s experience:


(sometimes it’s hard to think about the actual people inhabiting the building, but give it a try . . . )

By: David Plick