Posts tagged with "Frank Gehry":

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Barbara Bestor’s SCI-Arc commencement speech evokes L.A.'s unique architecture history

Despite its youth, the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) has educated a surprising number of figures that have come to define the field. One such figure is local architect Barbara Bestor, who graduated from the school with a master’s degree in 1992 and has since designed several prestigious projects in and around Los Angeles, including the Silverlake Conservatory for Music, and the Beats by Dre campus in Culver City, and also oversaw the renovation of the Silvertop Residence, a hillside home first built in 1956 by local legend John Lautner. As the commencement speaker for SCI-Arc’s 2019 graduation ceremony, Bestor elaborated on the storied history of the city and how it directly influenced her career. “I think that, like the city of Los Angeles,” began Bestor, “our culture of freedom as architects is a uniquely West Coast culture that's actually in touch with our past history.” She then went on to recount how the unique qualities of the city that inspired experimentation among luminaries including Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Kappe, Deborah Sussman, and Rudolph Schindler, who had a “habit of driving around to job sites with a load of two-by-fours in his station wagon so that he could improvise new ideas in real-time.” Bestor then reminded the audience that the freedom afforded by the relative lack of history Los Angeles can be liberating but also daunting. “It demands that we grapple with big existential questions like ‘what am I doing here,’ ‘what's my artistic voice,’ and ‘will my voice ever be part of the larger architectural conversation around the world?’” Bestor’s way of first navigating the city’s creative landscape was to work on houses, coffee shops, clothing stores, kitchen renovations, and several other small projects. “Even the most pragmatic and mundane programs,” she explained, “contain some freedom for the architect to create extra value, ideas about gender politics, fun experiments, and so on.” Bestor ended her speech by advising her listeners, “whether you’re staying here in L.A., or going off to Mexico City, or Beijing, or Seoul,” to “take that sense of freedom with you… You are all now West Coast Architects... part of this great, living tradition of experimentation and innovation.” It seemed fitting that, following her speech, an honorary M.Arch degree was presented to Frank Gehry, an architect who has called Los Angeles his home since 1947 and found a career by tapping into the experimental spirit of the city recounted by Bestor.
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MOCA digs up its past in its Foundation exhibition

Celebrating 40 years since its founding in 1979, The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles has unearthed some of their best hits for this latest exhibition: The Foundation of the Museum: MOCA’s Collection. To be specific, the show takes place in The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the museum’s first official building, a former police car warehouse renovated by Frank Gehry in 1983 with all the rawness the architect’s work was known for in that era. The exhibition on display, organized by senior curator Bennett Simpson and assistant curator Rebecca Lowery, reveals a collection that will remind its visitors of the radical spirit that once led the museum’s founders to hire an architect as nonconformist as Gehry in the first place. Institutional critique and curatorial transparency appear to be the two uniting forces grouping the artworks on display: In any part of the museum, one can hear the critical voice of performance artist Andrea Fraser from the three television sets displaying her video works peppered throughout the exhibition; one room is a nearly standalone installation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Portrait of MOCA), which serves to challenge the self-aggrandizement of the museum itself in plain text. Perhaps most impressive is the recreation of Chris Burden’s Exposing the Foundation of the Museum, for which the artist dug into the museum’s floor to literally expose the concrete foundations of the museum’s building. First presented in the very same spot in 1986, the piece allows visitors to see the guts of the building for themselves, turn around, and see the other pieces of the exhibition with a fresh perspective. Curators Simpson and Lowery should be applauded for their decision to juxtapose Burden’s piece next to Gordon Matta-Clark’s Office Baroque, the product of the artist’s excavation of a corporate office building. Separate from any curatorial mission, the pieces from other notable artists, including locals Mike Kelley, Laura Owens, and Ed Ruscha, are a delight to see under a single roof.
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Tower project pits Gehry against the father of the L.A. Conservancy

It’s not often that Los Angeles moves to demolish one of its 1,158 Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCM), a list of relics that includes Simon Rodia’s Watts Towers, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, and three of the city’s majestic Moreton Bay Fig trees. But if developers Townscape Partners had their way, their Gehry Partners–designed 8150 Sunset project could do just that.

The controversial three-tower 8150 Sunset development aims to bring 229 apartments—including 38 low-income homes—and 60,000 square feet of commercial programming to the site of the Lytton Savings bank, a commercial structure with a folded concrete roof designed by local architect Kurt Meyer in 1960, an advocate for architectural preservation in L.A.

Designated HCM no. 1137 on the HCM list, Lytton Savings was recognized in 2016 after Gehry’s project was initially proposed. If demolished, it could be the first time a city monument is intentionally destroyed in 27 years, following the demolition of the A. H. Judson Estate—HCM no. 437—in 1992. The site of the Judson Estate, a mansion designed by George H. Wyman, the architect of L.A.’s Bradbury Building, remains empty to this day. In 1985, the deliciously gaudy Philharmonic Auditorium—HCM #61—in Downtown Los Angeles was also reduced to rubble and remained vacant until 2017.

This troubling legacy haunts Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata, two preservationists fighting to save Lytton Savings. They have been trying to work out a way to relocate the structure, though a new site and funds to relocate the 180-foot-long building have yet to materialize.

“It's a long shot, but it's important to make a try,” Luftman explained while highlighting the lengthy and complicated effort, adding, “The biggest obstacle to moving it is the building’s sheer size.” A recent 180-day grace period to create a plan to move the building expired on April 30, clearing the way for the developers to seek a demolition permit.

Like many buildings in Los Angeles, Lytton Savings has a hotly contested history that goes back to its prior incarnations. The structure was built atop the site of the former Gardens of Allah, a collection of bucolic hotel villas frequented by famous personalities, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Greta Garbo, and Ronald Reagan.

Frank Gehry, however, has no nostalgia for Meyer’s bank. “I came to L.A. when the Gardens of Allah were still there and was witness to [Bart Lytton] tearing them down,” Gehry said. “The way it was done was ruthless.”

Gehry explained that he was bothered by “the history of [how Lytton Savings] got there” and that he “didn't feel compelled to fight to keep it,” adding, “I offered to live with it, but the client did not want to.”

“Four of my buildings have been torn down without anyone asking,” Gehry added. “It’s kind of a better way to have it happen.”

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The Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is "on track," aims to break ground soon

After a tumultuous series of ups-and-downs, work on the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is reportedly picking up steam. According to an interview with Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, given to Euronews at Abu Dhabi’s annual Culture Summit, the museum could open its doors in the next three-to-four years. The institution’s momentum had seemingly stalled in recent years. Although the project was first announced in 2006 and scheduled to open in 2012, it was repeatedly delayed. The original 2012 opening estimate came and went, as did the revised opening date in 2017, and after an interview with former director of the Guggenheim Foundation, Thomas Krens, it seemed the museum might be dead in the water. The 320,000-square-foot museum, potentially the Guggenheim’s largest outpost, is slated to open on Saadiyat Island, a ground-up cultural district that holds a number of institutions designed by big-name architects. That includes Jean Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi, which itself experienced a number of delays before opening in 2017. “It's a big building, parts of it are quite complex and it should take a little bit of time to put together as it's also quite large,” Armstrong told Euronews. However, he claimed that the project was “on track and on budget,” and that once construction was completed in four years, the Guggenheim Foundation would focus its attention on the fledgling museum over the next 10 years to ensure its success. As for programming, Armstrong envisioned displaying large-scale works from all over the world, mainly contemporary pieces from 1965 and onwards. That includes carving out space for work by younger, lesser-known artists, with "overscaled" pieces from artists such as James Turrell or Ernesto Neto being placed in the building’s upper levels. No exact opening date or new budget was given. AN has reached out to Gehry Partners for comment and will update this story accordingly.
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Frank Gehry wins restraining order against death threat-sending job seeker

According to court documents obtained by The Blast, a judge has granted Frank Gehry a restraining order after he was reportedly menaced by a potential job seeker. Throughout 2018, a Midwestern man in his 20s (The Blast declined to name the accused) repeatedly visited the Los Angeles office of Gehry Partners to ask about a job. Although Gehry himself never met the man, testimony lodged by his employees noted that he “consistently appeared ‘disheveled’ and displayed erratic behavior.” Unsatisfied with the response he was getting at the office, the man then began sending the 89-year-old Gehry increasingly violent death threats over email, many of which were collected and presented as evidence by Gehry’s lawyer. Even worse, Gehry believed that the man had stopped taking his medication and was going to attempt to force a face-to-face confrontation in L.A. On January 11, a judge granted Gehry’s request for protection and ordered that the man stay at least 100 yards away from Gehry and his wife Berta for the next five years.
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Architectural Effects explores the Bilbao Effect in culture and technology

A new exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao looks back on the historic design and construction of the seminal Spanish museum and its pioneering use of digital technology and avant-garde materials in the field. Architectural Effects, which opened on December 5, details Frank Gehry’s pivotal project while chronicling its influence on contemporary architecture and art. Organized by lead curator Manuel Cirauqui and Troy Conrad Therrien, curator of architecture and digital initiatives at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the show asks: What makes architecture more than just a building? Through various mediums, the exhibition broadens the understanding of the museum’s initial impact by placing its technological and cultural achievements alongside other 21st-century works.   The exhibition is split into three connected “territories.” In Airlock, the Garden, and the Bubble (a digital dimension available on a free app), visitors can explore both the materials on view as well as the virtual story of architectural advancement visible throughout the show. Airlock, the introductory territory, features major moments in the creation of groundbreaking digital technology, not just in architecture, but also in biology, pop culture, medicine, politics, and more. Video, audio, books, photographs, historic artifacts, and archival material populate this showcase, further explaining how these benchmarks—all made in the year 1997 when Gehry’s Guggenheim Bilbao was completed—have influenced the world at large. According to a statement, “The Airlock is a representation of the techno-cultural conditions in which the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was developed to immediately become a global emblem.” Gehry’s vision for the project and the resulting Bilbao Effect are also heavily documented in this section of the exhibit. Garden, the main space in Architectural Effects, highlights post-1997 art and architecture through moving images, prototypes, models, sculptures, and artificial intelligence. It features works by prominent artists and architects over the last 20 years through drawings, animation, and architectural documentation. Three major projects are debuted in this section including El Otro by Frida Escobedo, A Tent without a Signal by MOS Architects, and Float Tank 01 by Leong Leong. Bubble offers visitors an online collection of media that contextualize and further illustrate the works on view. It includes educational materials and readings by influential artists, scholars, and writers like John Mernick, Gordon White, and Venkatesh Rao as well as critical essays by the exhibit’s curators and assistant curator Ashley Mendelsohn. Architectural Effects is on view through April 28, 2019, at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain. Several talks, performances, and workshops will coincide with the exhibition. More information is available here.
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Frank Gehry–designed restaurant opens at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

The first element of Frank Gehry’s master plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art is now open to the public. The new restaurant, Stir, is the only fine dining establishment on the East Coast designed by the architect and, surprisingly, the only space in the museum where his signature style will be apparent. Stir's cozy dining room seats just 76 people beneath a large sculpture of crisscrossing Douglas fir beams hanging from a ceiling of curving wood panels. Affectionally dubbed “the nest” and “chips” by the architect and museum staff, the sculptural ceiling is complemented by custom leather banquettes and granite tables designed by Gehry Partners. The warm, intimate space is enclosed by frosted glass walls and an open-air kitchen.  Guests can watch chefs prepare locally sourced seasonal dishes inspired by the museum’s new dining room, like roasted Griggstown chicken over a nest of braised green beans. “Every restaurant is about time and place,” said chef Mark Tropea, who created a menu that ensures the sense of place extends to the plates. Gehry also designed the adjacent cafe, a well-lit casual cafeteria space that can seat up to 160 guests. Organized around a central serving station, the cafe serves up views of the city along with surprisingly impressive made-to-order dishes. And yes, there are cheesesteaks—artisanal cheesesteaks. Stir is the first milestone on the long road to the renovation and expansion of the 1928 building, originally designed by a collaboration of architects including Paul Cret, the firm of Zantzinger, Borie, and Medary, and the firm of Horace Trumbauer, particularly Howell Lewis Shay and Julian Abele. The first phase of the renovation, The Core Project, will be completed in 2020. The stylistically subtle intervention will dramatically improve circulation and infrastructure with 90,000 square feet of new public space, including expanded galleries and tile-vaulted walkways. Although visitors will have to wait a little longer to enjoy the refreshed galleries, Stir is open now with refreshments and a glimpse of the museum's future.
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Frank Gehry remembers Robert Venturi and VSBA’s work

Last week, architect Frank Gehry spoke to The Architect’s Newspaper regarding the recent passing of postmodern hero Robert Venturi at age 93. Venturi passed away on September 18 and in the days and weeks following, architects, scholars, and critics from around the world have offered poignant remembrances of Venturi and of his work with partner Denise Scott Brown and their joint firm, Venturi Scott Brown Associates (VSBA). The pair is largely responsible for ushering in the postmodern architecture movement during the 1960s, a ground-shifting development that rocked established architectural discourse through convention-challenging buildings and radical publications alike. The developments helped to open a new realm of architectural expression, an opportunity generations of later architects—Gehry included—have exploited in order to explore new horizons in architectural and urban design. Over the telephone, Gehry explained that though he and Venturi feuded publicly from time to time, he felt much admiration for the late architect. Gehry said, “Bob Venturi is one of my heroes in life,” adding, “as is Denise.” With recent high-profile demolitions in mind, Gehry voiced support for preserving VSBA’s work, explaining that “maybe it’s a time to reflect on the issue (of preservation) that Denise has brought up,” a reference to Scott Brown’s recent efforts to bring awareness to the increasingly imperiled nature of some of the firm’s lesser known works, like the firm’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego expansion. Gehry explained that while “it’s hard to lose Bob [Venturi], what he [and Denise] gave us are insights created over a lifetime” that will live on in VSBA’s remaining built work. Specifically, Gehry offered praise for VSBA’s Sainsbury Wing at the National Gallery in London. The groundbreaking work—a 120,000-square-foot expansion of the historic gallery that was built in 1991—was recently listed in England’s National Heritage List as a structure with Grade I significance. Regarding the project, Gehry said:
“Their project in London—Sainsbury—I go there and I marvel at it. I’m not a Classicist or an Originalist, I’m not into that, but those columns in the back, at an angle, a slight angle, it does something to your perception. Yeah, I have Venturi love in me.”
Gehry went on to postulate that when it came to the preservation of postmodern-era structures, architects and clients are both often at a loss, especially when budget-driven clients are setting priorities. While acknowledging that “culture changes, people are different,” Gehry admitted that “I don’t know that we understand [postmodern architecture], really, or how to deal with it.” With a note of finality, Gehry added, “Bob ain’t here to make another one, though.”
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Facebook unveils views of latest Gehry-designed office expansion

Frank Gehry’s exuberant-landscape-meets-open-office phase is in full swing.  The 89-year-old architect and social media giant Facebook have unveiled select views of their recently completed MPK 21 project in Sunnyvale, California, a 523,000-square-foot addition to the company’s sprawling Northern California headquarters complex.  Built in only 18 months by Level 10 Construction, the green roof-topped slab office building is billed as an expansion of Gehry’s MPK 20 project that opened next door in 2016.  In a video announcing the completion of the offices, Gehry explains that with MPK 21, his office and the client sought to put into place lessons learned from the MPK 20 building. As a result, the new 3.6-acre green roof for MPK 21 spans multiple levels—instead of just one, as is the case for MPK 20—and becomes a central, planted courtyard at the heart of the complex studded with social and work-related spaces. The garden links rooftop, offices, and the neighboring buildings and also features over 200 trees, including over a dozen 40-foot-tall redwood trees, as well as a half-mile-long meandering pathway and an amphitheater.  Within, the complex is organized around a central spine that links open office areas, quiet workstations, dining facilities, and a 2,000-person digital meeting space. The complex contains 15 art installations that were developed in conjunction with an artist-in-residence program. The building also comes studded with environmentally-friendly bells and whistles, including a reclaimed water system designed to save about 17 million gallons annually, 175,000 square feet of fritted windows to protect migrating birds, and a 1.4-megawatt solar panel system that will generate almost 2 million kilowatt hours of electricity yearly. Plans call for completing a two-acre public park and plaza adjacent to the offices within the year with a forthcoming elevated bicycle bridge slated to span across the Bayfront Expressway heading to the site, as well. In conjunction with the project, Facebook says it has contributed $20 million in funding for affordable housing and rental assistance programs to local authorities while it works with regional partners to reopen the Dumbarton Transportation Corridor as a multi-nodal transitway to help alleviate some of the traffic congestion that is likely to occur due to the new offices.
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Frank Gehry's new restaurant, Stir, is set open at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Frank Gehry’s $196 million masterplan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art will reveal its first signs of life this fall with the opening of Stir, the famed cultural institution’s new restaurant and cafeteria that will open to the public in October. Operated by Starr Catering Group and led by Executive Chef Mark Tropea, Stir will offer museum-goers and guests a seasonal and locally-sourced menu inside a very Gehry, contemporary atmosphere. The design centers around a grid-like sculpture shaped out of Douglas fir slats and beams that extends from an undulating ceiling. The walls are also wrapped in Douglas fir panels while red oak covers the restaurant’s floors. Hints of frosted glass, felt, steel, leather, bronze, and onyx are also featured throughout the space, all coming together to create a warm and inviting setting. Gehry Partners will design the tables and chairs that will hold up to 76 people. In addition to Stir, the firm will reimagine a new, full-service cafeteria for the museum that will seat 160 people. The space will extend the entire width of the building and include windows offering views of the East Terrace and its garden as well as the Schuylkill River on the west side. It will have stations for salads, sandwiches, and brick oven pizza. The museum’s North Entrance, which will open at street level in early 2019, will house a new espresso bar in the Vaulted Walkway that will also be accessible to the public. There, visitors can enjoy views of the building’s facades through the skylights above in a space that’s been closed off since the mid-1970s. Gehry’s masterplan is part of the museum’s Core Project, a massive interior renovation of the neoclassical landmark built in 1928 which has long suffered from poor circulation and a lack of clear wayfinding. The redesign will add 67,000 square feet of new public space to the facility and an additional 23,000 square feet of gallery space, while also opening up the heart of the museum. Gehry will introduce a new central space, called the 'Forum', by removing the upper-level auditorium, thus heightening the ceiling and adding glass walls to create sightlines between The Great Stairs Hall and Lenfest Hall, the building’s grand lobbies that were previously completely disconnected.     Construction on the Core Project began early last year and is expected to wrap up in 2020.  Stir will be open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, from 11:00 a.m. until 2:30 p.m., and will offer brunch on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
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Gehry’s Sunset Strip complex all clear to demolish Kurt Meyer-designed bank in L.A.

In Los Angeles—when it comes to preservation battles and development, at least—history tends to repeat itself.  Such was the case last week, as the Gehry Partners-designed 8150 Sunset complex cleared another legal hurdle in the quest to demolish an existing historic building so that the project might move one step closer to construction. The California Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal brought forth by the Los Angeles Conservancy against a recent ruling that would have allowed developers Townscape Partners to demolish the 1960s-era Lytton Savings bank designed by Los Angeles architect Kurt Meyer located on the project site. The bank itself was built following the destruction in 1959 of the storied Gardens of Allah hotel complex, an elaborate collection of villas surrounding the historic Hayvenhurst estate. In its time, the hotel hosted a who’s-who of Hollywood entertainers and literary personalities, including the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the actress Alla Nazimova—after whom the complex was originally named—Greta Garbo, the Marx brothers, Ronald Reagan, and many others. Urban legend has it that the demolition of the Gardens complex inspired the line "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in the Joni Mitchell song "Big Yellow Taxi,” though sources—and Mitchell herself—do not quite agree on the matter. At the time of its destruction, the Gardens complex was seen as representative of an outdated style in need of renewal. Nearly 60 years later, Frank Gehry says the existing concrete folded plate structure that replaced the gardens has “outlived its time” as well, and is incompatible with his proposed design, a rumpled collection of twisted, fluted forms set to rise on what is now the city’s Sunset Strip. Gehry has pledged to “recognize” the Lytton structure as part of the redevelopment, though he has not specified what that means. The latest mixed-use project would bring a clump of segmented towers surrounded by broad public spaces and a stepped plaza to the site. Contained within the three squat towers that make up the project would be 229 housing units, including 38 low-income designated homes. The housing element will be joined by 60,000 square feet of commercial spaces, as well.  It is unclear what’s next for the project. A statement from the L.A. Conservancy website states that the latest ruling “effectively ends legal efforts to stop the needless demolition of the historic Lytton Savings building,” however. A statement put out by Friends of Lytton Savings referred to the ruling as “bad news.” Steven Luftman and Keith Nakata of Friends of Lytton Savings said via email, “Demolishing the Lytton building will be a tremendous loss for Los Angeles. The building represents what was good about the ‘Mad Men’ era of architecture in Los Angeles:  Kurt Meyer and Bart Lytton created a soaring space that brought art, sophistication and the vision of a bright future to the people of this city.’’ A development timeline for 8150 Sunset has not been released.
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Take a look at revamped Gehry cafeteria at the former Condé Nast headquarters

The first photos have been released of the renovated cafeteria at 4 Times Square, originally designed by Frank Gehry for Condé Nast, and the redesign appears to have thoroughly modernized the space. The 260-seat cafeteria, the Los Angeles-based architect's first project in New York City, was intended to be an exclusive gathering place for Condé Nast employees. Completed in 2000, Gehry’s curves are prominently displayed throughout the room, from the 12-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide billowing glass partitions hung from the ceiling to the twisting grey titanium columns at the edge of the cafeteria. Even the seating reflected the overall design ethos, as rows of orange leather seating undulated alongside the partitions and handrails. With Condé Nast’s exit from the Durst Organization-owned 4 Times Square in 2015, questions swirled over the ultimate fate of the cafeteria. Now, the Durst Organization has announced that the cafeteria will be the centerpiece of a 45,600-square-foot amenity floor accessible to all of the building’s tenants. The entire floor’s renovation was handled by local firm STUDIOS Architecture, and the end result is a total transformation of Gehry’s cafeteria that still keeps the fundamental curves in place. The titanium paneling on the walls and ceiling have been painted white, the floors and accents have been replaced with American white oak planks, and the chrome pendant lights have been stripped out. The bright seating has been reupholstered in hues of beige, and the yellow-topped tables have been replaced with white alternatives. The end result is more IAC Building than Disney Concert Hall, and STUDIOS has definitely succeeded in bringing more light into the space. The redesign marks the launch of the Durst Organization’s Well& amenity brand across all of their properties, with this floor at 4 Times Square as their first location. Accessible from the cafeteria is the new “Garden Room,” a circular bar area that features a 106-foot-long, floor-to-ceiling wraparound green wall designed by Blondie’s Treehouse. The southern side of the floor has been leased to Convene, a flexible meeting and workspace management company. The meeting and event spaces on the Convene side can hold up to 480 people, and the look, handled by their in-house design team, skews towards darker wood paneling and tile flooring. The $35 million renovation of the amenity floor is just one part of Durst’s recent $135 million modernization effort at 4 Times Square, which includes new entrances, elevator cabs, and a full lobby and reception renewal.