[ Editor's Note: The following is a reader-submitted comment from the AN Blog in response to the post, “Gehry Lets Loose on Los Angeles, Downtown Ambitions,” which cites an interview Frank Gehry did with Los Angeles Magazine. It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN07_08.14.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. ] The only thing that makes Los Angeles unique is that so much of it was built during the auto era (albeit on an infrastructural framework established during the interurban rail era). Different parts of Los Angeles were developed in a manner that was identical to how other cities across North America were being developed at the same time. The same succession of transportation, construction, and development technologies created a downtown in Los Angeles that is nearly indistinguishable from portions of San Francisco, Chicago, and Manhattan. The fact that the city also has linear urban spaces, such as along Wilshire, does not make Los Angeles unique nor incompatible with the sort of transit-oriented, mixed-use urban living that has been thriving for over a decade in our major cities. “Linear Downtowns” such as Wilshire are not currently pedestrian “friendly.” The scale and velocity of such spaces have long been attuned to the auto. The city could use focus on retooling these areas to serve both motorists and pedestrians. The Purple line extension will be an important step. I do not think anyone is suggesting that we abandon the automobile or the spaces it has created, but Los Angeles’ downtown will continue to become a better place as more people choose the lifestyle that level of density affords. For decades, all development in Los Angeles was auto-reliant. Now a small portion of new development has been working to revitalize a late-19th/early-20th century urban downtown. This is long overdue, and serves a demand for urban living that has been nearly impossible to find in Southern California. Master architect or no, Gehry is wrong, and pedestrian-oriented urbanism continues to be on the rise. As a west-sider, and a member of a previous generation, he appears to hold the same anti-downtown prejudices outlined in Mike Davis’ City of Quartz. Randolph Ruiz Principal, AAA Architecture San Francisco
Posts tagged with "Frank Gehry":
Ken Price’s colorful, sensual ceramic sculptures have always posed the question as to whether they are art or craft. But the blur may also include the architectonic. His signature forms—cups and eggs—set up a tension between exterior and interior. New York Times art critic Roberta Smith has written: "Their forms oscillated between the biomorphic and the geometric, the geological and the architectural." Price’s friend, Frank Gehry, designed the installation of the exhibition, Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective, currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through September 22. He lives with Price’s ceramics, his first purchase being a cup festooned with snails. Gehry wrote of Price’s work, "They were like buildings." He cited a cup with a twisted piece at the top, and sees the similarity to his California Aerospace Museum, 1982-84, featuring an airplane jutting out of the structure. "I think the similarity of form was totally unconscious. Now I think a lot of architects must have been looking at those cups…the relationships are amazing." The relationship was probably both ways. The catalogue makes compelling visual analogies between Price’s Untitled (Slate Cup) from 1972-77 with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater; the blocky orange flats perched on yellow sides of Hawaiian from 1980, are compared with cliffside pueblo dwelling (both have small dark cutout “windows” set into rectangles) as well as OMA’s Seattle Public Library. Think of the openings into his sculptural forms, whether small or large, as the mysterious entrance to a darkened, monumental temple. With Price, scale is relative—Price quoted artist Joseph Cornell, whose boxes he admired: “Tiny is the last refuge of the enormous.” Ken Price Sculpture: A Retrospective on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., through September 22.
Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be. For Gehry, a Los Angeles version of a “center” is something like Wilshire Boulevard. “I have always thought that L.A. is a motor city that developed linear downtowns,” he noted. It’s for this reason he feels Disney Hall would have been better positioned in Westwood and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels near MacArthur Park. He’s a believer of putting the architecture where the people are. Gehry would have also put MOCA across the street from LACMA. “Los Angeles doesn’t take architecture seriously,” he told the magazine, “though I guess you could say that about most cities.” Despite this, he is positive about his role as an architect and the impact he has had here. “I’m happy. I mean, Disney Hall is once in a lifetime. Are you kidding? I could go to the moon and forget it all.”
Frank Gehry's design for the four-acre Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has sparked controversy for its departure from traditional memorial design around the National Mall from the president's family and others, prompting a third-party design competition and calls for redesign from Congress. Now the beleaguered memorial is one step closer to reality as the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) voted 3-to-1 this month to approve an updated design with additional changes to proposed woven-metal tapestries that have generated most of the public outcry. Besides the tapestries, Gehry's design has been criticized for its scale and the presentation of the president's humble Midwestern upbringing. Situated at the base of Capitol Hill across Independence Avenue from the National Air and Space Museum, the contentious design, carrying a $142 million price tag, has undergone several revisions from its original design. The commission asked Gehry to remove two of the tapestries still remaining in the latest layout, a request Gehry was receptive to considering. Other changes reflected in the new memorial include reorienting the center of the public space to create a more-defined alleé directing views to the Capitol building and providing more emphasis to Eisenhower's wartime achievements, such as new quotes from his famous Guildhall Address. The CFA includes new Commissioner Elizabeth Meyer, Vice-Chair Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Alex Krieger, and Edwin Schlossberg. Meyer, the only landscape architect on the commission, held the sole vote against approval of Gehry’s updated design. According to ASLA blog, the Dirt, she was not comfortable approving the design without reviewing it as a complete landscape plan, noting that the success of the memorial is tied to how it operates as a park and that the “architecture of the trees needs more time and refinement.” AECOM is working with Gehry on the memorial's landscape. The revised design now heads to the National Capital Planning Commission for its next approval, but uncertainty remains whether Congress will withhold funding for the $142 million project and force a redesign. Based on past expenditure, legislation to terminate Gehry’s plan, revamp the commission, and select a new design would cost $17 million, according to the Congressional Budgets Office.
In recent interview with the journal Foreign Policy, Frank Gehry held forth on how architecture and democracy don’t really go together. Just too many opinions, you see. “I think the best thing is to have a benevolent dictator—who has taste!” said Gehry. “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore.” Why was Gehry on FP’s radar in the first place? We’re guessing it was Hillary Clinton’s Gehry name-check in one of her outgoing speeches as Secretary of State. Riffing on how institutions of the future must be dynamic rather than static, the stateswomen stated, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”
Frank Gehry has unveiled renderings of its shortlisted entry for the competition to design the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), the predestined showstopper of Beijing’s new cultural district. Gehry was shortlisted alongside fellow Pritzker Prize winners Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid for the high-profile project. Gehry's submission incorporates transparent cladding, an interior comprised of lofty, geometric courtyards evocative of pagodas and temples, and a layout that would accommodate nearly 12 million annual visitors. [beforeafter] [/beforeafter] In acknowledging the globalization of art and its role in connecting the world’s various cultures, the firm's plans seeks to address the concept of 21st century Chinese architecture. Gehry Partners has created a unique design tailored to the museum’s framework, as the structure will be situated facing the central axis of Olympic Park, over the course of the three competition stages. To convey delicate movement, the firm considered glass as a facade material, and in doing so developed a new material—translucent stone—that grants the building an imperial appearance suitable for a national museum. The translucent stone, which is part of the inventive sustainable facade system that integrates a ventilated airspace, allows the structure to efficiently transform for the seasons, festivals, diverse exhibitions, and as a canvas for artists. The renderings reveal four dispersed entrances at each corner and expose a structure that can accommodate a record number of visitors. A formal entry resembling a Chinese temple is positioned in the center of the west facade. The interiors are organized around large public spaces linked vertically by escalators. Visible only from the inside, the spaces are inspired by temples and establish a proper connection between the shapes of the building facade and the interior. The project is currently part of Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition called A New Sculpturalism: Contemporary Architecture from Southern California.
Follow the Architecture Chicago Plus blog as Lynn Becker raises an eyebrow at the new sculpture that quietly popped up in the lobby of downtown Chicago’s celebrated Inland Steel Building. The 1957 SOM icon seems to have acquired a consortium of ice hunks, courtesy Frank Gehry. Ostensibly a formal counterpoint to the elegant energy of Richard Lippold’s Radiant I, the original lobby art, Gehry’s glass agglomeration (fabricated by the John Lewis Glass Studio of Oakland, California) frames Radiant I and responds to its angularity with carved blobs. It’s admittedly atypical in the setting of the modernist masterpiece, but doesn’t overpower the space or the original artwork.
Frank Gehry, who is currently working on Facebook's new Silicon Valley campus in Menlo Park, California, will design a new office for the company's New York-based engineering team at 770 Broadway in Manhattan. The move will nearly double the company's current workspace. In a note from Serkan Piantino, Facebook New York's engineering team site director, the new offices will share many of the same features of Facebook’s California headquarters, but with a twist that is uniquely New York. Approximately 100,000 square feet across two floors will be updated with open, collaborative spaces, conference rooms, cozy and casual work areas, writeable surfaces, and integrated video conferencing equipment. There are also plans to build out a full service kitchen for Facebook employees. At 770 Broadway, Facebook will join tenants AOL/Huffington Post, Adweek, JCrew, and Structure Tone. The move from their current offices at 335 Madison Avenue is scheduled for early 2014 under a 10-year lease with building owners Vornado Realty Trust.
For those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, it's time to feel old. As part of its "Curating The City" series, the Los Angeles Conservancy is tomorrow hosting an amazing tour called Venice Eclectic: Modern Architecture from the 1970s and ’80s. The event features looks inside whimsical buildings by, among others, Frank Gehry (Indiana Avenue Houses/Arnoldi Triplex), Steven Ehrlich (Ed Moses Studio), Brian Murphy (Hopper House, above), Frederick Fisher, and Frank Israel. Yes, it's time to appreciate these decades for more than disco and Madonna. After the tour there will be a panel featuring Ehrlich, Fisher, and Murphy. And that's just the beginning of a busy weekend for LA architecture and urbanism buffs. There's also SCI-Arc's 40th birthday party on Saturday night and CicLAvia—with an expanded route going all the way to the ocean for the first time—on Sunday. Get going.
It is not uncommon for projects to change over time, but the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site has undergone many iterations. It has been tweaked, downsized, refocused, delayed, and at one point, possibly re-located to another site. Now, the New York Times reported that the center has been whittled down from a four-stage arts complex housing multiple cultural organizations—including the International Freedom Center, Signature Theater, the Drawing Center, and the Joyce Theater—to a multidisciplinary arts space with just one main stage. The Joyce Theater is the only remaining organization that will still be part of the center, though it will not be based at the World Trade Center site as previously planned. The next step is to find an artistic director who can oversee center and curate its programming. Frank Gehry has been working on the design of the center, but the recent changes have called for him to scale it back. Once costs and programming are nailed down, the preliminary board will move forward with fundraising efforts. Right now, though, it looks like the center won’t open its doors until 2017 or 2018.
Congress held a hearing today to discuss the funding and controversial design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial designed by Frank Gehry. Representative Rob Bishop is leading the charge with a new bill that aims to oust Gehry from the $142 million project and hold a new competition to find a more “appropriate” design. The Washington Post reported that the main gripe is over the massive metal tapestries encompassing the memorial, which would display images of Eisenhower’s early childhood in Kansas. The Eisenhower family has expressed that the grandiose scale of the design, specifically the tapestries, is out of touch with the former president’s character. Architect magazine live tweeted that there were few defenders of Gehry's memorial at the hearing except for Rep. Holt, and a fair share of confusion over what this bill entails and ultimately means for the future of the memorial.
A new bill before the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to build consensus to junk Frank Gehry's design for the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall. The bill, known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act, was proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). It cites concerns over the controversial nature of the design and its escalating costs (currently estimated at well over $100 million) and seeks to "facilitate the completion of an appropriate national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower." Opposition to Gehry's proposal has been brewing for some time. The antagonists include members of Eisenhower's family and the National Civic Art Society, which published a 153-page report that called Gehry's scheme a "travesty" and a "Happy McMonument." The AIA feels differently. The association released a statement opposing Rep. Bishop's bill. The statement does not express an opinion about the value of Gehry's design, but rather disapproves of the "arbitrary nature" of this exercise of "governmental authority." Lodge your feelings about the bill and/or Gehry's design in the comments section of this post.