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Category: Gehry

June 26, 2008

Frank Gehry - InterActiveCorp Building

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Photo Gallery

The New York Times Building may not have ended up as Gehry's ticket into New York City, but the less skyscraper-y IAC Building got him a nice spot on the Chelsea waterfront -- he even got to put in a nice deck overlooking the High Line.

The design of the building is meant to mimic sails. You can't really tell from my photos as I was too lazy to cross the street to get the prototypical shot of the building. Instead I was enthralled with how well the glass was able to contort and reflect the blue sky and clouds -- definitely an advantage over Gehry's metal designs. From the adjacent sidewalk its a bit difficult to get a feel for the form of the building --not enough setback -- but you do get a closeup look at the faux-frosting on the windows: little white circles increase in concentration to transition the windows from transparent to opaque.

The building has two things going against it:

1) The lot size is too small for the form imposed upon it. Instead of floating glass sails, it feels like embellishments on a box. Other Gehry designs have been much more successful at deconstructing the rectilinear form

2) The stock IAC logo is ugly.

Gehry will soon have over a block's worth of buildings in Brooklyn at Atlantic Yards, so he'll have more opportunity to make his mark on NYC.

Photo Gallery

November 6, 2006

Frank Gehry's Louis Vuitton design

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The Herzog and de Meuron's Prada building in Tokyo got me a book cover, I wonder what a Louis Vuitton building in Paris by Frank Gehry is worth? I'll just have to schedule a trip to Paris in 2010 to find out.

The materials for the building haven't even been fully chosen yet, so it is difficult to see how much it will live up to the artist's rendition.

August 11, 2006

Millennium Park

Five things I really liked about Millennium Park in Chicago:

  • The Cloud Gate sculpture (i.e. metal bean): I had seen many photos of this, and I didn't quite get it; it just looked like a giant funhouse mirror. But today I stood next to it and realized that, standing in the right spot, you can get impossible views of Chicago that are wonderful to take in. You can see the skyscrapers to the east and north of the park lined up side by side as well as the architecture in the park itself, all from one vantage point. And it's fun to watch distorted images of yourself.

  • McDonald's Cycle Center: there's free bike parking in a very secure facility (bike cops use it) and for $99/year or $15/month you can get use of a reserved bike parking area, a personal locker, and use of showers -- it's like a club for bikers. There's towel service for $1/use and the whole facility is indoors. It makes biking feel very upscale and luxurious. I like.

  • Gehry's Pritzker Pavilion/Great Lawn: As I walked over to Millennium Park, I was noting to myself how cool the naked architecture of the El train system in Chicago is: every support beam and bolt is right there for you to see. When I got to Gehry's typical twisting and undulating metal sheets in Millennium Park, I thought it was a really great match:

    • From the front, you just see metal sheets, but walk just a bit to the side and you get to see all the support structure exposed.
    • The Great Lawn itself has this canopy overhead that is stripped down to just beams, speakers, and lights. There was a jazz ensemble rehearsal while I was there and I enjoyed listening to it as families played soccer and frisbee around me. The canopy of speakers just drops sound down on you so you feel properly immersed.
    • There is naked concrete (ala Ando) used for ramps, staircases and supports.
  • Gehry's BP bridge: this serpentine bridge is a great way to approach the Pritzker Pavilion -- too bad you're more likely to be leaving rather than entering on this bridge, as I really enjoyed how the bridge introduced the pavilion.

  • Crown Fountain: I could care less about the images of faces projected onto these two mini-towers, but it's fun to see families bringing their kids to play and run around in the fountains shooting off each tower. I was tempted to run around myself, but I didn't have a towel.

This does mean that I pretty much liked the entire park, though I did leave out the gardens, which I felt were impersonally wraped in metal, as well as the Wrigley Square area, which was overly classic that it just felt flat in that environment. It will be interesting when the Renzo Piano's Modern Wing addition to the Chicago Art Institute is done: part of the plan is to add a very long pedestrian bridge from the park to the new wing. The linkage, I hope, will add even more to the park.

November 4, 2005

Book: Gehry Draws

gdrawing.jpgThis is not your pretty-color-photo architecture portfolio books . As the title suggests, it is mostly a book of Gehry's drawings, all of which are about as detailed on the one shown here; in other words, it is many, many pages of scribbling. Ignoring the pretentious-art-historian essay at the start of the collection that compares Gehry's sketches to Durer's works and extols Gehry's use of grundlinie, the truth is that many of Gehry's sketches are thirty-second efforts (p. 126). I would prefer if the book focused more on the models, but then it wouldn't be called Gehry Draws. Also, as the models are built by his staff, it is really only the drawings that can be said to be Gehry's work.

This is not to say that the drawings are not interesting. At first I was put back by having to look at scribbly sketches, but after awhile you get a sense of the rhythm and form Gehry was trying to communicate. I still find it impressive that his staff can look at the drawings and translate them into 3-D models, then again, I don't have Gehry standing next to me to pantomime the form in the drawing. It is these models that are the key to the book -- the juxtaposition between drawings and models makes the models Rosetta Stones for scribble interpretation. Also, the models are pretty.

I most enjoyed the section on the Lewis Residence, which was a house designed in collaboration with Philip Johnson and Richard Serra (among others) but was never built. Six years were spent iterating the design for the house and it reads as a transition point into the trademark wavy style -- Serra's influence on Gehry becomes more obvious. Gehry has described the project as being like a research fellowship where they got to hone their physical- and computer-modelling techniques.

There are occassional quotes by Gehry and his staff in the book (though they are poorly edited tnough to have frequenty spelling errors). I especially like Gehry's quote, "There was a period when I used to look into my wastepaper basket and fantasize buildings and forms," as well as this quote about designing the office space for MIT's Stata Center:

We then made models showing [the MIT faculty] the ways different cultures might deal with this problem. We had a scheme based on a traditional Japanese house with panels that could open to combine spaces and close shut for privacy. They hated that because there was no hierarchy. Then we gave them a scheme based on a colonial American house with a central hall and rooms around the bottom and rooms around the top. But they didn't like that either; it was too formal. Then one of our team members made an "orangutan village" around a tree with elders higher up and the children below it. At first they were insulted. They thought we were calling them apes. But in the end they chose the orangutan village.

more quotes in the extended review

Continue reading "Book: Gehry Draws" »

March 28, 2005

Gehry's House

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Over the weekend we swung by Frank Gehry's house in Santa Monica. The location suprised me, as I expected someone like Gehry to live in an ultra-exclusive, gated community with huge walls and attack dogs keeping people away. Instead, his house is relatively modest on an open public street in Santa Monica.

His house isn't in his blobular, twisted metal style. Rather, it has more in common with his earlier works like Edgemar that emphasize simple rectilinear forms. The materials are also fairly modest, making use of both wood and corrugated steel, as well as copious amounts of plants to provide some sense of privacy. Although you can see a large portion of the house in this photo, the actual front of the house is well-protected by dense foliage. Driving down the street it is a home that you notice, but it does not overwhelm the neighborhood that it is in.

I felt rather bad when I noticed his dogs come out onto the patio, as architectural appreciation shifted into the realization that I was point a camera at someone's private home, and it's understandable that he's building a new house (so I hear). Even with his windows set relatively high, it must be disconcerting to regularly have cameras pointed at your home.

Gehry House Photo Album

October 13, 2004

Love 'em or hate 'em

Frank Gehry -- you either love his work or hate it. I, for one, happen to like (most) of his work, so I'm excited to hear that he will be designing the performance arts center at the NY WTC site.
- SignOnSanDiego.com -- Architect Frank Gehry to design performing arts center at ground zero

May 17, 2004

Stata Center

photo One of the highlights of my visit to Boston was visiting the nearly complete Stata Center at MIT. Ever since seeing photos of the Guggenheim in Bilbao, I have been a fan of Gehry's work, and this was my second opportunity to see one of his buildings in person (the first being the Disney Center). I've already expressed some opinions on the Stata Center prior to visiting it, so you can compare and contrast my pre- and post-impressions if you wish.

I've broken my impressions and photos of the Stata Center into five parts, partly to separate distinct parts of the building, and mostly because I took over 200 photos and need to make the image galleries consumable.

Exterior
Modifying the building
Interior
Roof

Stata Center: Exterior

photo The exterior of the Stata Center has invited a lot of criticism and not much defense, so let me be one of the few voices out there to say, "I like it." It's different, it's looks like got damaged in an earthquake, and it's strange, but it's also very interesting, open, and thought-provoking. It has towers with a gentle curve that enhance their height, Gehry's signature use of metal, and the appropriately dedicated Dertouzos amphitheater, which I hope will invite people to hang out in nicer weather. Unlike most MIT buildings, it also has a parking garage (added after the building was designed) and day care center with playground.

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the exterior design is the still-incomplete robotics lab (photo). With its shiny metal exterior, separation from the rest of the building structure, and conical chimney, it almost seems like a cottage to the rest of the building. In most of the sight lines for the building, it seems to stand out most prominently, which perhaps was the intent of Gehry when he chose for it to be the shiniest.

In comparing the Stata Center and Disney Center, I would say that the Stata Center has a much slower rhythm. When I visited the Disney Center, I found myself taking a photo, walking two feet, and finding a completely different view that I had to take another photo of. The variations in the Stata Center design are much more spread out, and while it does have a greater diversity of design elements, it doesn't have as many interesting angles from which to view it from.

Stata Exterior (100 photos))

Related: Index of other Stata Center entries

Stata Center: Modifying the Building

Another interesting design decision for the interior of the building that deserves its own post is that the interior is very hackable. Most of the interior spaces are complete open with reconfigurable separators to adjust how the space is used, and there are large, open spaces, some of which extend sixty feet into the air.

There is also extensive use of glass invites people to write messages or draw pictures on it, or in some cases, paper up the glass entirely for privacy. One of the more morbid window drawings I saw can be viewed here (hard to see).

Gehry I believe has taken to using the euphemism "modifying the building" to describe some of the modifications that people are making to correct some of the building design. We took to joking around with this saying as we wandered around; e.g. when we propped open one of the doors using construction material, we were "modifying the building." One of the more humorous modifications I've heard about is that in one of the conference rooms someone placed a box with a brick in it over one of the buildings floor vents and labelled it "temperature control." It is good to see that Gehry doesn't take offense at these modifications, though I'm sure that some of the denizens wish they were unnecessary. In all fairness, at least they have control over their spaces in the Stata Center; the old NE43 building offered little opportunity.

There are also plenty of fun reasons to hack the building. The "Gates Building" logos are numerous and pristine, the MIT library terminals are running Windows and frequently bluescreen (they were hacked to run Linux during the dedication), and the Dreyfoos building has already spawned the Dreyfoosball table.

Related: Index of other Stata Center entries

Stata Center: Interior

photo As I wandered the interior of the Stata Center and into the various "tribal" lab areas, I was under the impression that the building was still under construction. This was true: Brooks' robolab and the fourth floor commons were still being built. There was also building materials scattered about, including numerous items made out of plywood, such as benches, tables, and most commonly, cubicle-like dividers (example). It turns out that the plywood was actually the finished product.

When I first found this out, I was in disbelief. I had wandered the building for half an hour thinking that I was just seeing more construction materials, but then hogue pointed out that the plywood was actually a theme for the furniture, a cheap, ugly theme. The Stata Center in many ways represents leading-edge use of materials in construction, and it is simply mind-boggling to me that plywood would play a prominent role in furnishing the building.

That said, the rest of my impressions about the interior of the building were mostly positive. The most compelling design theme was the manner in which Gehry cleverly allowed the exterior of the building to penetrate into the interior; walls that were external fascade often continued into the building, usually with a skylight demarking the separation of spaces. Gehry places windows everywhere, allowing light from the outside to penetrate nearly every part of the building; conference rooms generally had three windows, each allowing sunlight to penetrate.

The combination of the two elements create the an interesting inversion: even interior windows have the appearance of opening to the outside, as what you see out of an interior window is often the same as what you would see out of an exterior window (example).

Other elements of the interior that I liked include the spiral staircases and the 123 lecture hall. I also think that the two-story lab areas will be very interesting work environments, as they offer a more three-dimension workspace.

Other elements of the building design I didn't like were the lack of power outlets near desks in the classrooms (not very laptop friendly), and the extensive use of exposed concrete (not always bad, but in the case of office ceilings, ugly). One of the worst design decisions, in terms of building function, is that the separators between the hallways and the workspaces is incomplete; there are glass dividers separating the two, but it turns out that above head height they didn't put any glass in, so there is actually open air between the two. I have been told that this makes the building very noisy.

Stata Interior (82 photos)

Related: Index of other Stata Center entries

May 9, 2004

Stata Center followup

rcp posted a comment deriding my praise for the Stata Center. I imagine others will or already do share her viewpoint, and as aesthetics are a matter of personal taste, it's rather difficult to debate. A vote could give some credence to right or wrong, but I don't have a poll feature, so here is my response:

rcp: we have agreed to disagree on our definitions of art :) but i think it makes our already hideous campus look all the more heinous. i would have been happy if they had kept the 77 mass ave or killian court architecture. in their attempts to be innovative, i think they've made a mess. who cares if there's a building that's a 30-60-90 triangle or 1/8th of a sphere? with the recent addition of an oddly colored simmons and this drop of demented-looking metal, i think we have won the award for the most eclectic and yet, most uncoordinated campus ever. now, i will prepare myself to be flamed by you :).

We already had the award for most eclectic and uncoordinated campus ever. If MIT had stuck to the Killian Court look throughout, then my response would differ, but no other buildings on campus match that look, not the Green Building, Media Center, hospital, Sloan, bio building, NE43, or any of the other building numbers too numerous to list. The building that the Stata Center was built over was a fifty-year-old "temporary" building that had five coats of hideous blue paint on it, none of which matched, and none of which seemed to make it all the way around a full window frame. The building that the Stata Center replaces (NE43) could easily be mistaken for a boring office building, which its twin across the courtyard in fact is. Coordination was never a virtue of the MIT campus after its initial construction. About the only common trait they share is that most of them use lots of concrete.

If we assume that it's too late to tear down the MIT campus and rebuild it in a new image, then we have to accept the fact that nothing can be done to improve the "regularity" of the campus. That doesn't mean that we should build horrendous buildings like Simmons, where the only design consideration seems to be making the windows inconvenient for suicide attempts, but it does mean that MIT can, and should take risks in its building design to demonstrate innovative architecture.

Whether you like or dislike Gehry's designs, he is a leader in architectural design. His designs would be impossible without the leading-edge CAD tools he promotes, and his buildings are marvels that fly in the face of the principle of interchangeable parts; they demonstrate that technology now affords us the capabilities to dismiss assembly-line manufactured designs. Too many buildings resemble the parts that made them: rectangular blocks. If you look at the Disney Center in LA, you will be immediately struck by the fact that they had to individually bend each sheet of metal that covers it; no two are the same. The fact that this can be done without astronomical costs is additionally impressive. At the very least, the Stata Center will be a case study in modern design and construction technologies for architecture students.

Go into any other building on the MIT campus, and go to any floor. Take a look around. Then go up or down the stairs, and take a look again. Look familiar? Other than the bathroom layout, which alternates each floor, nearly ever floor in an MIT building is a replica of the floor below, save the dreaded catacomb basements.

The Stata Center will break this tradition. It will offer the largest variety of spaces available in the entire campus, from large lecture halls, to individually shaped tutorial rooms. Each floor, room, and stairway will have the opportunity to make unique impressions. At the very least, it will make it very challenging for the AI lab to program their robots. When I wandered around the Disney Center, each vantage point revealed something different about the building; you never got the same view as you walked around. From the photos of the Stata Center I have seen, I believe the exterior and interior will offer a similar variety.

I believe this unconventionality will be useful, because one of the things that impresses me about PARC, now that I work at SRI, is how important the building is for the culture of the lab. SRI's building, I'm told, is a former hospital, which has the consequence that there are no common spaces, and all the hallways and stairways are in the interior of the building. At PARC, much of the building faces the outside. Anywhere in PARC, you're never more than a hundred feet away from a patio or a courtyard. The building is also subdivided into pods, so and each pod is centered around a common space. All of this fosters social communication at PARC at a level that far exceeds that of SRI. Pixar had a similar approach in their building design: the bathrooms are all placed at the center of the building, so that people are encouraged to run into each other during their bathroom breaks. Neither PARC's or Pixar's building designs are responsible for their culture, but they are consonant.

I do not know if the Stata Center will encourage social communication on campus, though I do think that the amphitheater might be only large outdoor social gathering point in the entire East Campus. I am fairly certain, though, that the unique design of the Stata Center will make an impression on the research culture. It is hard to predict cultural shifts, but my prediction is that this impression will be a positive one.

Stata Center opens

The Stata Center at MIT officially opened on May 7th. It's not my favorite of the Gehry buildings, but to me, at least, it's a refreshing break from the other buildings on the MIT campus. The MIT campus can be best described as depressingly ugly, so I think it will be an improvement. I'll know better when I visit next week and take lots of photos.
The Ray and Maria Stata Center - Photos

March 22, 2004

Stata Center + Brass Rats

The Stata Center at MIT is nearly complete (more info). I'm a Gehry fan, so I think that it's rather cool to get a Gehry building on campus. However, looking at the current photos, it doesn't seem as striking as I thought it would. Perhaps large amounts of brick-color, or bad angles in the camera shots, but it doesn't stand out like, say, the Disney Center in LA.

On a slightly related note, the new 2006 Brass Rat design has been announced, which I mention because it's the first ring I know of where you join two rings together to spell out the secret message.... MIT. The message is kinda lame, the idea is cool, in a dorky way appropriate to an MIT ring. Strangely, the report also says the ring has "ILTFP" inscribed on it. Did MIT suddenly get a whole lot nicer to its students? Did the school suddenly start caring about student life? Every ring I've seen has IHTFP, and if there were a "secret" message to be spelled out, that would certainly be a good candidate.

November 29, 2003

Gehry Disney Part 2

When I last visited the Gehry Disney Concert Hall, I only managed to get photos of half of the building, as the garden and children's amphitheater side were closed off. Luckily, I was down in LA again so I made a circuit around the other half. The photos are much closer up than last time, so it might be a tad bit hard to get a grasp of the overall building, but the new photo set includes close-ups of the small shiny part of the building, the garden rose sculpture, some interior shots of the lobby, and a couple of shots that show how the bracing is done. I still haven't made it inside the actual concert hall, but I'm hoping to get tickets to a December show when I next visit.
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Gehry Disney Photos Part 2

October 13, 2003

Gehry Sails

interactive corps simulated photoThe NYTimes has an article on a new Gehry building being built in New York that will be the headquarters of Barry Diller's InterActive Corps. I didn't see any details of this when I saw the Frank Gehry exhibit in LA, so I'm looking forward to seeing more pictures and close-ups of the "white glass."

Ship of Glass for Chelsea Waterfront

September 29, 2003

Frank Gehry - Disney Concert Hall

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The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles is complete and they'll be letting visitors in soon. I like most of Gehry's work so I wanted to get some photos while I was down there for the weekend.

I also had the opportunity to visit a Gehry exhibit just across the street at the MoCA, which was really interesting. I imagine what they do with this exhibit is whenever a new Gehry building opens, they transport this exhibit over there to help promote the opening. They had tons of models of (none of these projects have finished construction, and some may never be constructed): - Le Clos Jordan winery in Ontario, Canada - Corcoran Art Museum extension in DC - NY Times headquarters - Marques de Riscal in Elciego Spain - Princeton Science Library - Puente de Vida, Panama - Stata Complex in Cambridge, MA - Gateway to Venice - Astor Place Hotel in New York

And by tons, I means dozens of models, large and small from various stages in the planning, from unintelligible preliminary sketch (not a single Gehry sketch was understandable to me), to final working models (where available). If your name is Mr. Tyler and you happen to like architecture, you might enjoy seeing this exhibit if you happen to be in LA...unless you really dislike Gehry.

I wasn't allowed to take photos of these models, but I have posted my Disney Concert Hall photos.