Search results for "Paul Goldberger"
Frank Gehry is having what publicists call a “moment”: Frank Gehry, a retrospective at LACMA, opened on September 13; Building Art: The Life and Work of Frank Gehry, a biography penned by critic Paul Goldberger, was just published by Knopf; and he’s the 2015 recipient of the J. Paul Getty Award. The only problem is that, as a prolific architect for more than half of his 86 years, he’s moved beyond a moment, or even Warhol’s fifteen minutes. What we’re seeing now is the writing of his legacy and the prodigious desire for the archetypal architect to steer his firm, Gehry Partners, into a future beyond his signature. That future includes out-of-character projects, such as the study for the L.A. River.
Mimi Zeiger: What does it mean to you to have a retrospective of work opening at LACMA, an institution you’ve worked with for so many years? This new show is a far cry from renting furniture for a show you designed for Billy Al Bengston in 1968.
Frank Gehry: I have a problem looking back. I love working with [LACMA senior curator Stephanie Barron], on shows, but I couldn’t bring myself to work with her on my show.
What do you mean by “I have a problem looking back”?
Well, I think I work forward. I love my projects, but I figure if they’re worth documenting, other people will do it. Does that make sense?
I think so. In the sense that someone else will record your archives or take care of the history.
Or not! If they don’t, they don’t.
You came up in the Sixties and Seventies with a lot of the L.A. artists. Your ambivalence to the archive reminds me of John Baldessari burning his first set of work in 1970.
Yeah, I’m more in the spirit of that. I didn’t burn my stuff, but I suggested that people do that.
But what happens to your archive? Do you feel compelled to find a home for it at an institution—at LACMA or the Getty, for instance?
Well, unfortunately my process ends up building a lot of models. I put them in storage and I have to pay for the fucking storage, if you’ll excuse me. Right now it’s costing me a million a year to store all that stuff. So it’s an albatross. What do I do?
Yeah, that’s right. And it’s hard for people to take it because it’s so huge. No one institution could possibly do anything with it. So, I bought a warehouse and put everything in it.
In regards to LACMA, a while back, around the Peter Zumthor scheme, there was talk that museum director Michael Govan was interested in you doing a tower. Has anything more come of that conversation?
No. It’s been in the mind of LACMA for a long time. Because they have this site across the road and they want to do stuff around it. A long time ago we did a study and actually proposed a pedestrian bridge over Wilshire Boulevard. Not as wide as Zumthor’s, but a very thin bridge. It makes sense to use that site for expansion or special shows and there’s a lot of parking over there so they could. It seemed like a no-brainer to do that at some point. I hope that sometime it does.
So, anything you’ll do is contingent on the Zumthor plan moving forward?
I suspect; I don’t know. I’m not being coy, I really don’t know.
In his biography of you, Paul Goldberger writes that your exploration of digital technology allowed architecture to catch up with art. Did you have it in mind that you wanted to somehow reach a level of art through using technology? Was that a goal to make architecture an art?
In my early days I was a bit put off by the architects. They didn’t like what I was doing, the locals. They thought I was breaching some kind of trust and they sort of shunned me. The artists in L.A. embraced me at that very same time. I became part of their team and felt more comfortable. I felt their way of exploring form and space and their creative impulses were manifested very honestly and directly and I felt better with that. So, I stayed with that idea all the way through to now.
I’ll give you the quote from Wayne Shorter. Have you heard it?
He went to a room with his guys to start working together on something and the guitarist said, “Wayne, what are we rehearsing today?” And Wayne said, “You can’t rehearse what you ain’t invented.” And I think that says it all for architecture and art. It is an exploration and an invention.
Of course, we have to follow budgets and stuff like that and that’s why I started playing with the computer. I realized that in the construction industry, probably more than thirty percent of the amount spent building buildings is waste, and fifteen percent of that is in change orders, which people accept. It’s really crazy. It’s like a pro forma thing that you expect you’re going to get fifteen percent change orders and nobody complains about it.
The computer system that I was playing with builds airplanes. And then we modified it for buildings because it was too complicated. We developed an add-on called Digital Project and that helped us eliminate clashes in the field. That’s all it did. It clarifies everything.
Your firm is taking on a master plan for the L.A. River and two partners, Anand Devarajan and Tensho Takemori, are leading it. Gehry Partners is often seen as your signature. With the river study are we seeing a more collaborative way of working?
I’ve shared the presence of these people with our clients for twenty years. When we publish the material they are usually given credit in the credit line. We’re trying to acknowledge partners more as I get older. But it’s really hard. I don’t think anybody’s really done the legacy office thing very successfully. Saarinen I guess, Kevin Roche and Dinkeloo, but that’s just two guys. Kevin’s still there flying in and out. And he’s kind of lived up to the promise. It rarely happens. Up until twenty years ago, when there were talented kids were in my office, I would kick them out at the end of five years and say, “You deserve to take a shot at things yourself.”
In an interview with KCRW’s Frances Anderton, you mentioned that your time studying urban planning at Harvard influenced the L.A. River plan.
People were asking, “What’s your credibility to be doing this?” So, I just threw in Harvard.
I spent a year there in city planning. I didn’t complete the course because it was about statistics and stuff like that, so I got out. If people doubt my credibility, I don’t get it. I think I’ve done plenty to deserve the credibility.
We have a credible team; an incredible team. The work we’ve done clarifies what is needed, what the water issues demand. Once you understand that, that cuts through all the political stuff.
There are fifteen cities. We need to get agreement by fifteen constituencies, and then the state government and the governor on what the problem is and what do we have to do to manage the water and to reclaim it. It’s millions of gallons of water that go to waste that could help us with our drought.
And it’s just water that’s flowing back into the ocean?
Yes. It’s just wasted. I don’t think anyone’s really addressed that. Once you understand that, the reclamation of the water can be used for creating parks and gardens. Then come the designers for each one of those sites. I’m not going to do them. The people that are probably complaining now, if they have the creds to do it they’ll be brought in. And there are a lot of people in L.A. that have the ability to do the landscape work.
Master planning is outside of the kind of work that your firm usually pursues. Are large systems an interest?
The reason I went to city planning instead of architecture at Harvard is because I wanted to do these kinds of things. That was my dream back in the Fifties, and there was no market for it. There was no culture for it. You couldn’t get hired to do anything like this back then. Governments weren’t doing that. They had a few examples, Robert Moses in New York or Olmstead, but there wasn’t really a culture that was interested.
The infrastructure does require design and talent and it is not usually given to design and talent. I was in shock, as everybody was, when the group came to me about the river. I said what do you want me to do? They said they were looking at the High Line in New York. I said the High Line is a derelict railroad bridge and they just put plants on top of it. The L.A. River is a flood control project and you can’t treat it like that. It’s not a “cleanup and plant trees and make it look pretty” kind of project.
First, you have to figure out what the engineering requires. It’s going to take a long time and I’m not sure where I will be when they get there. The team in my office is dedicated and they’re young and full of piss and vinegar. They will not do pretty designs. They will solve the problems first.
This Friday, catch the world premiere of “Modern Ruin” all about the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair
Most New Yorkers embrace life in a constantly changing city and do not fear density or tall buildings. But the sudden appearance of super tall, super thin, super luxury apartment buildings rising in Downtown, Midtown, and on the Upper East Side has many asking whether we have the tools to effectively guide development in this city.
In spite of the “Two Cities” rhetoric popularized by Mayor de Blasio, and the backdrop of bailouts and Occupy, I do not want to focus this discussion on wealth or class divisions. Still, as Paul Goldberger pointed out in his recent profile of these buildings in Vanity Fair, they are not apartments in the traditional sense. They are global assets, often unoccupied, rendered in built form. That being said, extreme wealth has been and will continue to be a major driver of built form in New York, the question is how, in what form, and where.
A few years ago there was what seems now to be a rather quaint worry about new office and residential towers overshadowing the Empire State building or blocking views of it. This played out in discussions of Hudson Yards and in the planned Jean Nouvel tower adjacent to MoMA. The important issue with these finger buildings is not about preserving the skyline (a strange idea in a city of towers), but about protecting the street.
The structural advances and market forces driving these buildings have radically changed what gets built and where. Tiny lots no longer prevent great height. Engineering and sometimes tortured cantilevers make site constraints easy to bypass. Community board members often feel ambushed by developers assembling air rights in secret and presenting “as of right” plans for midblock sites on small streets.
Carol Willis, president of The Skyscraper Museum, has curated an important exhibition on the subject: Sky High & The Logic of Luxury. In it she argues that these slender towers are an entirely new type of skyscraper, one native to New York and its regulatory and financial environment. Ever a proponent of building tall, Willis believes these towers are an efficient way of attracting and housing wealth, and that these new forms add to the dynamism of the city’s skyline. She is dismissive of worries about shadows cast over Central Park and other public spaces, calling them quick-moving “sun dial shadows.”
When pressed, Willis concedes that these towers do have an effect on public spaces and streetscapes, but she believes much of the worry is an “emotional” reaction. She believes existing regulations are enough and that FAR still works to balance the needs of developers and the public. Rather than further limiting heights, she suggests a “view tax” on new tall residential buildings, which would benefit parks and public space improvements.
Call me emotional, but I remain concerned about the rapid rise and lack of oversight of these towers. Any new building type requires the careful consideration of its impact on the urban fabric. We look forward to participating in and fostering this dialogue. New York’s streets are the city’s great equalizer. They must be respected and improved, not sacrificed for the few.
On March 19, the architectural and design worlds lost a passionate champion when Horace Havemeyer died at 72 in his Manhattan apartment of complications from CIDP, a chronic neurological disorder.
Horace had used crutches for decades, but his disability failed to keep him from exploring cities, physically as well as through books, articles, and on the worldwide web. Metropolis, which he founded in 1981, was “the first magazine that was ever online,” according to Susan Szenasy, its long time editor who succeeded Havemeyer as publisher on February 12. “He was a big techie,” she said. “He wanted a website before anyone else had one.”
Metropolis was a pioneering publication in many ways—in its scope, which encompassed everything from city planning to furniture, along with early coverage of preservation and ecology. The graphic design of Metropolis itself was groundbreaking, as was the range of feisty writers whose work it published. Michael Sorkin, Philip Nobel, Blair Kamin, Alan Temko, Robert Campbell, Karrie Jacobs, Akiko Busch, Paul Goldberger, James Howard Kunstler, Luc Sante, Laurie Olin, John Hockenberry, Aaron Betsky, Marshall Berman, Ben Katchor, Eva Hagberg, Jonathan Glancey, Alex Marshall, Fred A. Bernstein, Ellen Lupton, Andrew Blum, Alexandra Lange, and Christopher Hawthorne, among many others, wrote for Metropolis, many before they were well known.
Horace Havemeyer’s interest in the built environment began in childhood. The son of Rosalind E. and Horace Havemeyer Jr., he grew up in rural Dix Hills, Long Island, surrounded by Impressionist paintings and Tiffany wares, and summered in a house in Islip designed by Grosvenor Atterbury. Although he graduated from the Pomfret School and the Hobart and William Smith Colleges (where he majored in English and later served on the board of trustees), he struggled with learning disabilities—a problem hard for anyone who knew this articulate, unusually well read man to imagine.
When he graduated from college in 1964, he joined the family’s National Sugar Refining Company, because he was a fourth generation eldest son. But when the business was sold five years later, he was free to pursue a career more in line with his passions. To learn the editorial and business operations of publishing, he became a production supervisor at Doubleday. And to learn about the built environment, he took courses at the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies, where he worked on its monthly tabloid, Skyline, until it closed in 1980.
The next year, Havemeyer founded Bellerophon Publication to publish Metropolis. He drew on Skyline’s “attempt to reach a broader cultural audience” and on “Massimo Vignelli’s idea of using a tabloid size and… good offset paper rather than on newsprint,” as he explained in the Mission Statement for Metropolis. But he wanted to avoid the “thicket of unreadable jargon” in the institute’s other publication. He “thought this was an odd way to reach a larger audience. Metropolis would instead offer an alternative. We’d strive to be sharp, lively, thoughtful, challenging, and, above all, accessible.”
“From the beginning, we tried to tell stories from multiple points of view,” explained Havemeyer. “We’d interview the architect or designer as well as the client and end user… And we’d… visually show the process through the layered use of photographs, diagrams, sketches, drawings, and floor plans. Like all design publications, we were interested in showing beautiful buildings and objects, but we weren’t content with merely showing them as objects of desire to explain clearly and concisely why things looked the way they did.”
Unlike most publishers, Havemeyer was intimately involved in every issue of the magazine. He read every article before it was published. And in 2004, he launched Metropolis Books which published, among other titles, Design Like You Give a Damn; Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism; Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn; Design Revolution: 100 Products that Empower People.
Ten years ago, when his disease progressed, Horace and his wife Eugenie hired architect Ronnette Riley to make their apartment subtly more accessible with a nautical theme. The floor of the entry hall is painted to resemble rough seas, an historic photograph of a racing yacht is blown up to form a mural, and an oval brushed stainless steel handrail surrounds the space like one the boats he sailed all his life.
Havemeyer went to the office daily until three years ago when his disease progressed to the point where he was confined to his home by his paraplegia. Even then, he held weekly meetings at his apartment with his staff and entertained friends for brief periods. Confined to an elevated wheeled chair, wrapped in a blanket, and wearing a breathing tube, he would have it removed it to ask questions and then express his opinions with all the vigor and passion of his youth. No longer able to paint watercolors, he learned to make collages. He was unstoppable. His indomitable spirit lives on in his publications and in the friends, relatives, and associates he leaves behind.