When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
Posts tagged with "Frank Gehry":
Frank Gehry has had a hell of time with this Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. Since the architect was selected to design the memorial in 2009, his plans to honor Ike have been met with sustained and scathing backlash. Countless columnists have pilloried Gehry's design, the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts objected to key elements of the memorial, Eisenhower's granddaughter compared the metal tapestries that frame the site to fences at a Nazi concentration camp, congress rejected $49 million in construction funding for the project, and then, in April, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted 7-3 to reject the the plan. But it's going to take more than that to stop Gehry. According to Reuters, the architect will unveil a revised design to the Planning Commission at their next meeting in July. It will be interesting to see what that means for the most controversial element of the project: the 80-foot-tall columns and the large metal tapestries, which are intended to depict the Kansas landscape where Eisenhower grew up. Here is Gehry explaining his proposal to the NCPC in 2010.
We’ve known for some time now that ex MOCA director Richard Koshalek has returned to Los Angeles from D.C., where he recently stepped down as director of the Hirshhorn Museum. Now we know one of his exploits: We hear that he is consulting Frank Gehry on the organization of his vast archives. Maybe this means there will someday be a Gehry museum? Certainly the architect is not getting any younger, so we may hear more soon.
Eighty-five year old Frank Gehry has been named the laureate of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts for his design for the Guggenheim Bilbao. He beat out thirty-six other candidates to become the sixth architect to win this illustrious honor. Gehry's titanium design for the Guggenheim opened in 1997 and helped to breath new life into the industrial city. According to the jury, "His buildings are characterized by a virtuoso play of complex shapes, the use of unusual materials, such as titanium, and their technological innovation, which has also had an impact on other arts. An example of this open, playful and organic style of architecture is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which, in addition to its architectural and aesthetic excellence, has had an enormous economic, social and urban impact on its surroundings as a whole."
Everything Loose Will Land Graham Foundation 4 West Burton Place, Chicago Through July 26 Everything Loose Will Land explores the intersection of art and architecture in Los Angeles during the 1970s. The show’s title refers to a Frank Lloyd Wright quote that if you “tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” This freeness alludes to the fact that this dislodging did not lead to chaos but rather a multidisciplinary artistic community that redefined LA. The exhibition features one hundred and twenty drawings, photographs, media works, sculptures, prototypes, models, and ephemera. The presentations function as a kind of archive of architectural ideas that connect a variety of disciplines. Projects by Carl Andre, Ed Moses, Peter Alexander, Michael Asher, James Turrell, Maria Nordman, Robert Irwin, Frank Gehry, Richard Serra, Coy Howard, Craig Ellwood, Peter Pearce, Morphosis, Bruce Nauman, Craig Hodgetts, Jeff Raskin, Ed Ruscha, Noah Purifoy, Paolo Soleri, Ray Kappe, Denise Scott Brown, Archigram, L.A. Fine Arts Squad, Bernard Tschumi, Eleanor Antin, Peter Kamnitzer, Cesar Pelli, Andrew Holmes, Elizabeth Orr, and others are explored. Curated by Sylvia Lavin, Director of Critical Studies in the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at UCLA, the show began its journey at the MAK Center for Architecture and then traveled to the Yale School of Architecture before arriving at the Graham Foundation.
Happy birthday, Millennium Park! Yes, the Chicago park named for the chronological milestone now 14 years in the rearview mirror is turning 10—it went famously over-schedule and over-budget but we love it nonetheless. Last year 4.75 million people visited Chicago’s front yard, taking in free concerts and events, and probably taking at least as many selfies with Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate and the flowing titanium locks of Frank Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion in the background. In honor of the anniversary, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is kicking off a series of shows and exhibitions that includes new work from Crown Fountain designer Jaume Plensa. Hey, Jaume! Email us if you need another face for your 40-foot LED projection! Here at AN, we're celebrating with ten of our favorite photographs of the park taken over the past decade and more. Take a look below.
Despite having first dibs on the project, Rafael Viñoly is being forced to hedge his vision for London's Battersea Power Station redevelopment under pressure from fellow power players Norman Foster and Frank Gehry. Responsible for guiding "Phase III" of the project, the latter pair have rejected the two large structures Mr. Viñoly had initially envisioned lining a raised pedestrian thoroughfare in favor of five smaller structures in an attempt to "humanize the scale." Viñoly's now-sullied initial vision for Battersea. The masterplan for the overhaul will now be populated by, among others inclusions, five residential towers of American origin. Assuming the moniker Prospect Place, the quintuplet is ostensibly Gehry's debut in the British capital. The centerpiece of this grouping comes in the form of "the flower," a titanium-tinted tower that resembles a series of more angular versions of the architect's Viennese designs crammed against each other. The rippling facades of the four surrounding structures complete Gehry's bouquet. The cluster is pierced by the Electric Boulevard, a two-tiered walkway that stretches to the original power plant. The western border of the site is parsed out by the Skyline, a curvaceous apartment block by Foster + Partners. Capped by trees and gardens, the wavy structure seems to slither uneasily past Gehry's design before doubling back upon encountering the smoke stacks of the Battersea. Another aspect of the Viñoly vision that has since been jettisoned is a large reflecting pool that once lay east of the projected location of Prospect Place. In its stead Gehry is calling for a public park that will have a lecture hall and playground in its southern and northern poles respectively. Along with its grounds, the plant itself will be subject to a major facelift as well. Local firm Wilkinson Eyre is responsible for sterilizing the industrial ruin, recasting the building as a shopping, office, residential and events complex. Instead of black clouds, a glass elevator will emerge from one of the refurbished chimneys as its converted into an elevator cum observation deck. The Wilkinson Eyre undertaking is not the first drastic transformation of the plant in recent years. All in all the roughly $13 billion project is set to provide 1,300 new homes to London, of which a meager 8 percent have been set aside for affordable housing. The percentage has been labeled derisory among wholly-warranted fears that the new development will be little more than the city's latest magnet for foreign investment.
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?
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.