The road to fruition for the Frank Gehry–designed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial has been full of twists and turns. And now, it seems, the Los Angeles architect’s plans may have reached a dead end. Last week, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted seven to three to reject the preliminary site and building plans for the memorial. The vote followed five hours of testimony from the proposal’s supporters and detractors, including House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Issa spoke against one of the design’s most (but not only) controversial features: the massive stainless-steel “tapestries” meant to depict scenes from Eisenhower’s life. Gehry’s design, which centers around a colonnade supporting three 80-foot-high tapestries, has been the subject of fervent debate since its unveiling in early 2010. In late 2011, two of Eisenhower’s granddaughters expressed public dissatisfaction with the design. The following March, Congress held a hearing on the matter. Then, in March 2013, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed a bill to shut down the design. In the meantime, the most vocal of the Gehry proposal’s opponents, the National Civic Arts Society, launched a competition for a more traditional design. Last July, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts approved an updated design, but in January, Congress, unimpressed with Gehry Partners’ revisions thus far, cut off funding to the Eisenhower Memorial Committee. The NCPC executive director’s recommendations [PDF], which the commission adopted on Friday, cited concerns with “the proposed scale and configuration of the tapestries” and how they jeopardize several of the design principles outlined during the 2006 site approval process. These include protecting views to and from the Capitol building, preserving building and tree lines along Maryland Avenue, and working within the L’Enfant Plan’s broader vision for Washington, D.C.’s civic core. The report asked Gehry Partners to modify the memorial design to address specific issues of pedestrian circulation, perimeter security, lighting, and public space. On a positive note, the NCPC report announced that the stainless steel alloy proposed for the tapestry panels passed a series of durability tests. No one has said for certain that Gehry’s design is a goner. The NCPC report “[n]otes the Commission’s continued support for a modern and innovative approach to commemorate President Dwight D. Eisenhower, including the possible use of stainless steel tapestries, although not as currently proposed.” If nothing else, the price associated with scrapping the Gehry proposal—an estimated $17 million—has kept the process going this long. But the question remains: how many more stops and starts can one project take?
Posts tagged with "Frank Gehry":
As the key elements of the World Trade Center site inch closer to completion, it looks like the Frank Gehry–designed Performing Arts Center might be left behind. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Center faces incredibly daunting logistical and financial roadblocks that could doom the project entirely. So, where to start? With the money, of course. Last year, construction costs for the project were pegged around $470 million, $155 million of which will be covered by federal funds. The fledgling non-profit behind the Center must find ways to make up the significant difference. This is even more daunting than it seems considering that the non-profit ran a deficit last year and owes $300,000 to the 9/11 Memorial foundation. The organization hopes to secure federal funds for the Center, but doing so will be especially difficult if they don’t have Mayor de Blasio’s support. It’s not clear if the mayor supports this project in the first place. And making matters even worse, de Blasio has not appointed a Cultural-Affairs Commissioner—a key player in the Center’s future. Putting the money issue aside for a moment, it's also not clear what the actual building will look like. The Journal reported that a decade after Gehry was selected to design the center, “his involvement in the project is now unclear.” Assuming that de Blasio—and his yet-to-be-named Cultural-Affairs commissioner—come out in favor of this plan and that the non-profit manages to secure the necessary funding and that Gehry comes on board to help the whole thing move forward, even if all of that happens, just building the center will be incredibly difficult. Someone familiar with the complexity of the World Trade Center site told the WSJ, “[The Performing Arts Center] would have to be constructed like a 3-D puzzle around infrastructure including PATH train tracks, a vehicle ramp, emergency subway exits and ventilation ducts that would come up through the arts center to more than 40 feet above street level.” And that’s not all, “the arts center would require extensive soundproofing to mitigate the subway vibrations.” Despite all of the obstacles—and there are even more—some in New York’s art community are cautiously optimistic about the plan. They believe that if the funding can be secured, and a clear vision presented, the center may have a fighting chance.
Nearly 50 activists recently took over the Guggenheim’s spiraling balconies to protest the museum’s planned branch in Abu Dhabi. The protesters, who are affiliated with Gulf Labor and Occupy Museums, dropped pamphlets, rolled out banners, and hung a manifesto to criticize Abu Dhabi’s poor record on workers’ rights. Gothamist reported that the activists chanted, “The Guggenheim should not be built on the backs of abused workers. The Guggenheim should listen to the voices of migrant workers. Is this the future of art?” The Frank Gehry–designed museum will rise off the coast of Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island, near new works by Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid, and Norman Foster. In response to the protest, Guggenheim Director Richard Armstrong said in a statement, “The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation is engaged in ongoing, serious discussions with our most senior colleagues in Abu Dhabi regarding the issues of workers’ rights. As global citizens, we share the concerns about human rights and fair labor practices and continue to be committed to making progress on these issues.” Zaha Hadid kicked up further criticism for her insensitive-seeming remarks in the Guardian, where she dismissed responsibility for worker safety on a stadium construction site in Qatar: "I have nothing to do with the workers. I think that's an issue the government—if there's a problem—should pick up. Hopefully, these things will be resolved." She previously sparked criticism for her comments on building under dictators in Syria.
Despite earlier indications of progress, Frank Gehry's design for a planned Eisenhower Memorial continues to encounter stumbling blocks. In November the US Commission of Fine Arts asked Mr. Gehry to make eight revisions to the proposal, a request that was then echoed and amplified in January when Congress turned down the Eisenhower Memorial Commission's request for $51 million in funding, a denial that was accompanied by a message imploring the architect "to work with all constituencies—including Congress and the Eisenhower family—as partners in the planning and design process.” The plan's most prominent feature, large metallic tapestries depicting the landscape scenes from the former president's childhood Kansas upbringing, has also proved to be its greatest sticking point. Some have suggested that the modern and outsize screens, coupled with the overall scale of the site, are not in keeping with Ike's humble and traditional image. The design has produced enough indignation in some circles that the National Civic Art Society launched a new competition for the commission courting more classically conceived memorials. Others have responded negatively to the narrative painted by the memorial, suggesting that the emphasis on the man's childhood found in the tapestries and many of the accompanying relief sculptures draw attention away from his later achievements as a public figure. Many of Eisenhower's family-members have been particularly vocal in their opposition to Gehry's vision. The closed process involved in the architect's initial selection for the project has come under fire for being undemocratic. The budget attached to the design has done little to assuage doubters, and Congress' leaves the Memorial Commission with $30 million in the bank for a structure estimated to cost over four times that amount. Though Gehry is to have responded to the CFA's request for adjustments, Congress was not impressed with the re-designs that bear a very close resemblance to their controversial predecessors. Some see more than a hint of ego in Gehry's stubbornness; an unnamed official affiliated with the Memorial claimed the largely unchanged plans reflected "tremendous arrogance." Responding to the latest development Representative Rob Bishop of Utah, chairman of the subcommittee on public lands and environmental regulation said, “To me this is very disappointing. It looks like tweaks here and there. It still means Gehry has not done what Congress asked him to do—to work with all the constituents, Congress, and the family.”
Yesterday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Gehry Partners' and Related Companies' long-stalled Grand Avenue Project, all but assuring that it will go ahead after years (and years, and years) of delay. The only remaining vote comes later today as the Grand Avenue Authority, the city-county agency overseeing the project, votes on the project. At the Supervisors' meeting the head of that authority, Supervisor Gloria Molina, praised Gehry's newest plans, a three-acre, mixed use development centering around a terraced, U-shaped plaza. "It's really a much improved design," said Molina. "It really creates an environment of a lot of activity and a lot of connectivity to the rest of downtown." She referred to an earlier iteration, by Gensler along with Robert A.M. Stern, as "very enclosed, very fort-like." Gehry returned to the project last month after being off the project for close to a year. The Grand Avenue project was first approved back in 2007 (after already experiencing years of false-starts), and Related has received almost a dozen extensions until this point. Gehry Partners' Paul Zumoff described the firm's new approach "to carve out the interior of the Grand Avenue scheme...giving views both to the interior and the exterior." He added: "It's a bit like Disney was inside and was pulled out of the interior." The Grand Avenue Authority meets today at 3pm to vote on the project. Also up for discussion is whether the project will be exempt from environmental review.
Aaron Betsky, director of the Cincinnati Art Museum for seven years, announced Thursday he’ll step down. Cincinnati’s WVXU reported that the museum's board will set up a search committee, and that Betsky will help pick his successor. Betsky, an architect, oversaw the first phase of a renovation for which he helped raise more $13 million, and increased the art museum’s endowment by 18 percent. His leadership was at times controversial, as when he oversaw an exhibit by artist Todd Pavlisko that included firing a .30-caliber rifle in the 132-year-old museum’s Schmidlapp Gallery. Before moving to Cincinnati he was the Director of the Netherlands Architecture Institute in Rotterdam, and previously designed for Frank Gehry. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Board chair Dave Dougherty said Betsky’s successor will need a variery of skills:
* "Someone great at exhibitions, first and foremost." * "Someone who continues to have financial discipline." * "People skills." Dougherty said the art museum is a large organization, with many tentacles, and a chance to influence the broader community. And, of course, there’s a director’s all-important fund-raising role.Betsky was a finalist for dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois, Chicago last year. That position ultimately went to Steve Everett, an Emory University professor of music. “The museum now has the programming and staff in place, and the financial stability that will allow me to openly pursue my next position,” Betsky said in a press release. “I feel that I have accomplished the goals that I and the Board had envisioned when I first arrived and would like to explore opportunities that may include or combine my academic interests and institutional experiences.”
Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present The Dallas Museum of Art 1717 North Harwood Street Dallas, TX Extended through December 2014 The Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating the work of prolific designers and architects from the 1960s to the present with its first comprehensive design exhibition. Some of the featured designers include Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi, Zaha Hadid, and Donald Judd. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s own collection, the exhibition reveals the evolution of forms and ideologies that have shaped international design over the last half century. “Several of the works on view are recent acquisitions that reflect the continuing expansion of the Museum’s decorative arts and design program to include historic American and European work, as well as contemporary objects of international significance,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. From modern jewelry like The Golden Fleece, to iconic furniture, the exhibition spotlights the extraordinary work of some of the best designers of our time.
Facebook has chosen architect Frank Gehry to design the interiors of its relocated and expanded international offices in London and Dublin. This commission comes just a few weeks after Gehry was hired with Foster + Partners for the London Battersea Power Station redevelopment, his first project in the United Kingdom capital. The new Gehry-designed offices in the Irish and UK capital cities will provide current staff with double the square footage and allow for an increase in hired employees. Facebook London will move its headquarters to occupy three floors of 10 Brock Street. The Regent’s Place building gives Gehry 86,000 square feet of space for office design. This move will also situate the company in the same building as social media rival Twitter and only a short distance away from Google’s headquarters at King’s Cross. In Dublin, Facebook’s new digs will provide up to 1,000 employees with 114,000 square feet of office space in Grand Canal Square. Gehry began designing for the social media company last year when he was hired to create a new Menlo Park campus in California's Silicon Valley. More recently, he continued work for the brand in a redesign of engineering team offices in New York City's Astor Place.
Just west of Los Angeles, a relaxed beach town on the California coast has recently received some major architecture news headlines. In 2013, some of the biggest firms in the country, from OMA to Gehry Partners, have set their sights on development projects in Santa Monica, planning to raise the skyline and increase the architectural density of the city. Not everyone is happy about this attention, though. This week, Curbed LA reports that the Wilmont Neighborhood Coalition, a group of Santa Monica residents from the high profile neighborhood from Wilshire Boulevard to Montana Avenue, have called for a moratorium on all development plans in the city. With a unanimous vote at their annual meeting, the group pleaded with the City Council to stop architectural projects in Santa Monica until the solidification of a zoning ordinance next year. According to a survey funded by the Huntley Hotel in downtown Santa Monica (whose owner is also a coalition board member), the group’s main complaint is the increase in traffic and the decrease in parking space that would be caused by city developments. The City Council’s Planning Committee will see a Zoning Ordinance Update on their agenda in a few weeks, but a decision on new building regulation in the city would not be reached until possibly late 2014. These Wilmont neighbors do not think that is soon enough to prevent the vehicular overcrowding they fear. Sending a symbolic vote of no confidence to City Hall, the Neighborhood Coalition has proposed a resolution that not only pauses all Santa Monica development agreements until the zoning decision but also introduces the adoption of a Downtown Specific Plan that would set a maximum height on projects in the downtown area. So far, the coalition’s objection has not had an impact on any current projects.
Frank Gehry and Foster + Partners have been selected to design the third phase of the mixed-use Battersea Power Station development in London, which includes a retail pedestrian street that serves as the entryway to the complex. Gehry and Foster will collaborate on the High Street section, and each firm will design residential buildings on the east and west sides, respectively. This will be Gehry’s first building in London. He will approach the project with the “goal to help create a neighborhood and a place for people to live that respects the iconic Battersea Power Station while connecting it into the broader fabric of the city.” The iconic Battersea Power Station has captured the imagination of everyone from furniture designers to rock stars. Take a look below at AN's roundup of 12 of the most amazing Battersea Power Station photos.
Over a star-studded semi-finalist list of Western architects, Pritztker-Prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel has been awarded the commission to design the world’s largest art museum: the new National Art Museum of China in Beijing. The 130,000 square meters NAMOC building is intended to exhibit works by 20th-century and traditional artists from worldwide. The Financial Times reported earlier this year that Jean Nouvel’s design idea as that of a single ink brushstroke, a concept of traditional Chinese art and calligraphy. With sweeping glass and a reflective facade, the museum’s exterior takes obvious inspiration from the art visitors will encounter within its walls. The winning design’s facade makes up a tangible interpretation of a brushstroke. Pierced stone screens and streaked patterned glass create a varied, yet continuous exterior. Shimmering and semi-transparent, the surface allows for a blotted reflection of the colors and shapes of the surrounding dragon-shaped garden and sea of red flags. The building touches the ground only at four points, sweeping upwards in its center as if the artist had a vertical inspiration. In this phenomenon, Nouvel has envisioned two different leveled lobbies for entrance to the museum. The summer lobby on the ground floor is exposed to the elements, surrounded by nature. But, in winter months it can be closed off and visitors enter through the first floor, protected from the elements yet surrounded by semi-transparent glass walls that give visions of what’s outside. After entering the competition in December 2010, Jean Nouvel's design was set on a shortlist of twenty, then narrowed down to five, alongside Hadid, Gehry, Herzog & de Meuron (who withdrew), and Safide. Although there was some speculation for a winner after Gehry Partners released their design renderings to the public for a current exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, Jean Nouvel’s highly coveted win was later confirmed by his advisor, Olivier Schmitt. The museum will be located in Olympic Park adjacent to the Ai Wei Wei-designed Bird's Nest Stadium from the 2008 Olympics. The Chinese government has made no official comment on the commission decision or a timeline for construction.
October is upon us, which means that the Chicago edition of Facades+ PERFORMANCE is only a few weeks away! Be there as leading innovators from across the AEC industry converge on Chicago from October 24th and 25th at AN and Enclos' highly anticipated event to discuss the cutting-edge processes and technologies behind the facades of today’s most exciting built projects. Don't miss your chance to take part in our groundbreaking lineup of symposia, keynotes, and workshops, and work side-by-side with the design and construction visionaries who are redefining performance for the next generation of building envelopes. Our Early Bird special has been extended until Wednesday, so register today to save on this unbeatable opportunity! Join Neil Meredith of Gehry Technolgies as he examine the relationship between digital design methodologies and real-world construction and fabrication constraints in the complex, wooden ceiling of the Burj Khalifa’s lobby. With representatives from Thornton Tomasetti and Imperial Woodworking, Meredith will lead an intimate, interdisciplinary discussion of the innovative, on-site solutions that his team developed in order to deliver one of the most visible features of the world’s tallest building, so don’t miss out on this rare opportunity! With the deadline fast approaching, Mederith and his team at Gehry Technoligies worked with SOM, Imperial Woodworking, and Icon Integrated Construction to develop new systems, mid-construction, for the design and fabrication of the large, double-curved, wooden ceiling of the Burj Khalifa. Coordinating the work of architects, fabricators, and construction professionals through complex, shared parametric models, Meredith redesigned the ceiling system from the ground up using pre-fabricated, unitized panels to create its astounding, wooden forms. Join in the discussion to hear the rest of this dramatic AEC industry saga in the not-to-be-missed dialog workshop, “Designing for Wood Fabrication in Complex Geometries: The Burh Khalifa Ceiling,” and learn the technologies and techniques behind the creation of this historic project. After earning his Masters in Architecture from Univeristy of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, Neil Meredith taught and ran the Digital Fabrication Lab at his alma mater. Meredith earned hands-on experience with cutting edge design technologies and real-world construction challenges with Detroit-based design/build firm M1, the European Ceramic Workcentere in Holland, façade consulting office Front, and as founding partner of design and fabrication studio Sheet. In 2007 Meredith joined up with Gehry Technologies, the go-to design technology and consulting company for the industry’s leading architects. Through the pioneering use of the latest digital tools and processes, Gehry Technolgies has worked with world-class, visionary architects, like Zaha Hadid, David Childs, Jean Nouvel, and of course Mr. Gehry himself, to triumph in the realization of the truly innovative forms of some of the era’s most ground-breaking projects. Register for Facades+ PERFORMANCE today to take part in this and other exciting workshops and symposia. Featuring representatives from SOM, Morphosis, Thornton Tomasetti, and other industry-leading firms, this is one event that is not to be missed. Check out the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site for the schedule of events and book your tickets now to start the next chapter in your professional career!