If Skyscrapers Predict Crises, What Do “Donuts” Tell Us?

HQ (USA). Image © Foster + Partners, ARUP, Kier + Wright,

In a recent article for the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote explores the ‘Skyscraper Index’, an informal term that suggests a correlation between the construction of a big company’s ambitious headquarters and subsequent financial crisis: “Think of the Empire State Building opening into the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Twin Towers being completed as New York City was flirting with bankruptcy or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur taking the mantle of the world’s tallest building and presaging the Asian financial crisis.” Heathcote goes on to describe the latest generation of headquarters being constructed for our current, tech-oriented goliaths – like Apple‘s monolithic “donut”, by Foster + Partners, and Facebook‘s Gehry-designed Menlo Park campus - and wonders: “if can tell us something about the temperature of an overheating economy, what do these groundscraping new HQs say?” Read the full article here.

Gehry’s Walt Disney Hall Turns 10

Courtesy of Archdaily

It’s been called a “remarkable work of public architecture” that “engages [the city of] Los Angeles” like few others. With the 10 year anniversary of Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall approaching, the LA Times, with some great, in-depth coverage, has been taking a look back at its architecture and what makes it such an important icon for both Gehry and LA. Oh, and don’t forget to check out its soon-to-be neighbor on Grand Avenue, the Broad Museum by Diller Scofidio + Renfro!

On Art, Urbanism, and Gehry in LA: A Conversation with Edwin Chan

Iman Ansari with Edwin Chan at Walt Disney Music Hall. Image Courtesy of an-onymous.com.

In this article, which originally appeared in Metropolis Magazine’s Point of View Blog as “Q&A: Edwin Chan,” Iman Ansari interviews Edwin Chan, a design partner at Frank Gehry architects for 25 years, about Gehry and the many significant cultural and institutional projects he worked on before starting his own practice, EC3.

Iman Ansari: When we look at the work of Frank Gehry or Thom Mayne, as LA architects, there is a certain symbolic relationship to the city evident in the work: the industrial character of these buildings and elements of the highway or automobile culture that tie the architecture to the larger urban infrastructure, the scale of the projects, as well as the conscious use of materials such as metal, glass or concrete. But as freestanding machine-like objects sitting at the heart of the city these buildings also embody certain ideals and values that are uniquely American, such as individualism, and freedom of expression. In your opinion how is Frank Gehry’s work tied to Los Angeles or the American culture?

Edwin Chan: Absolutely. I think Frank’s work definitely has DNA of LA as a city. We talk about the idea of a democratic city a lot, and coincidentally Hillary Clinton mentioned that in her speech recently saying: “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek,” because it’s the expression of democracy. In that sense you could think about the building embodying certain type of values that are manifested architecturally. 

Same Time Zone, Different Standards

Foreground: Pavilion by Tom Wiscombe Design, Middleground: Textile Room Pavilion by P-A-T-T-E-R-N-S at The Museum of Contemparary Art, . Image © Taiyo Watanabe

The Getty’s Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in L.A. hosted A. Quincy Jones: Building for Better Living at UCLA’s Hammer Museum and Contemporary Architecture from Southern California (formerly known as A New Sculpturalism) at MOCA Geffen for the better part of this summer. These two exhibits, on view until September 8 and 16 respectively, give us insight into Los Angeles’ past and present architectural legacies. They take on fundamentally different challenges. One uncovers a prolific and primary history of a modernist architect, the other attempts to capture and catalogue an unwieldy and unstable present.

Read on after the break for reviews of both exhibitions…

AD Classics: The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao / Frank Gehry

© Flickr User: RonG8888

Set on the edge of the Nervión River in Bilbao‭, ‬, the Guggenheim Museum is a fusion of complex‭, ‬swirling forms and captivating materiality that responds to an intricate program and an industrial urban context‭. ‬With over a hundred exhibitions and more than ten million visitors to its recognition‭, ‬Frank Gehry‮’‬s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao not only changed the way that architects and people think about museums, but also boosted Bilbao’s with its astounding success‭.‭ ‬In fact‭, ‬the phenomenon of a city‮’‬s transformation following the construction of a significant piece of architecture is now referred to as the‭ ‬‮“‬Bilbao Effect‭.‬‮”‬‭ ‬Twenty years on, the Museum continues to challenge assumptions about the connections between art and architecture‭ today.

Gehry’s Eisenhower Memorial Takes Major Step Forward

Courtesy of , LLP, 2013

Frank Gehry’s revised design for the controversial Eisenhower Memorial has been approved by US Commission of Fine Arts in a 3-1 vote – a major step forward after the project’s funding was nearly scraped last year. Though Gehry’s redesign was welcomed by the commission, BDOnline reported that they’ve requested he removes the three woven metal tapestries that border the site, as they believe the scale “undermined Gehry’s attempt to convey the president’s humility.” Gehry accepted this request and now awaits re-authorization from Congress.

AD Round Up: Iconic Houses in America

© Robert Ruschak – Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Five great architects, five great houses. This 4th of July, take a look at five of the most iconic houses in the . The main image is of a house that redefined the relationship between man, architecture and nature — Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater House. If you’re searching for the meaning of less is more, you must check out the Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or The Glass House by . You should also check out one of the first built examples of Postmodern architecture, The Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi. Finally, revisit Frank Gehry’s Norton House, known for its eccentric form and eclectic materiality. Which one is your favorite?

Frank Gehry Talks Dictators, Dubai, and the Difficulties of Architecture

Courtesy of Foreign Policy

Frank Gehry recently sat down with Foreign Policy’s Benjamin Pauker for a candid interview covering everything from his distaste for Dubai (it’s “on steroids [...] like every cruddy city in the world”), his dislike for cold, minimalist architecture (“I need a place where I can come home and take my shoes off”); and, oddly enough, his approval of benevolent dictators – albeit with taste, of course. As Gehry put it: “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore. Michael Bloomberg wants to be one. In fact, he promised he would build 10 more of my buildings in , but, you know, he hasn’t yet. Architecture’s difficult … [sigh].” Read the full interview here.

Frank Gehry to Design New York Office for Facebook

via TechCrunch

Shortly after winning approval on their Frank Gehry-designed, headquarters in California, Facebook has announced plans to once again commission the Los Angeles-based starchitect to design a new office for their City team. By early 2014, Gehry is expected to refurbish an existing 100,000 square-foot, two-story office space – nearly twice the size of their current home at 335 Madison Ave – on 770 Broadway. 

Living Architectures: Gehry’s Vertigo / Ila Bêka & Louise Lemoine

Fourth project of the Living Architectures series, Gehry’s Vertigo offers to the spectator a rare and vertiginous trip on the top roofs of the Guggenheim Museum of . Through the portrait of the climbing team in charge of the glass cleaning, their ascensions, their techniques and difficulties, this film observes the complexity and virtuosity of ’s architecture.

New LA Subway Could Spell Acoustical Doom for Gehry’s Disney Hall

Disney Hall /

Architect Frank Gehry has voiced concerns that the new Los Angeles subway, scheduled for construction in two to three years, may disturb concerts in his famous Disney Hall. The planned subway line would run 125 feet below the venue’s parking garage and recent simulations have shown that the rumblings could be audible inside the concert hall. Gehry has called for the review of previous noise projections for the metro project, which two years ago predicted no audible impact on his design. “It would be a disaster for Disney Hall,” Gehry told the LA Times. “The flag is up and we should go over it and make sure.”

Read more after the break.

Gehry’s Software Enters the Cloud, Promotes Paperless Construction

Courtesy of www.newyorkbygehry.com

There are many ways that the architecture profession has lead the way in environmentally friendly design – but when it comes to the process of creating buildings themselves, the industry works its way through huge amounts of paper. Frank Gehry, through his offshoot company Gehry Technologies, is aiming to change that.

The company has recently announced that its GTeam software, which has so far been available for less than a year, will now make use of Box, a cloud based storage system that is well suited to large files associated with complex 3D models that are often required in designing buildings.

Read more about Gehry Technology’s new software collaboration after the break

Frank Gehry’s Facebook HQ Wins Approval

© LLP via City Council

A new smartphone isn’t the only Facebook news making headlines, as the social media giant has received the green light from the Menlo Park City Council to move forward with their headquarter’s expansion on the outskirts of San Francisco Bay, California. The approved plans are a slightly toned down version of architect Frank Gehry’s original proposal, as the flamboyant butterfly-like wings which flared from each end of the 433,555-square-foot building have been removed.

“They felt some of those things were too flashy and not in keeping with the kind of the culture of Facebook, so they asked us to make it more anonymous,” stated Craig Webb, Gehry’s creative partner. “Frank (Gehry) was quite willing to tone down some of the expression of architecture in the building.”

After a 4-0 vote secured approval, Mayor Peter Ohtaki asked: “Where’s the ‘Like’ button?”

More after the break…

New PBS Architecture Series Features ‘Cool Spaces!’

© Matthew Carbone

In an age where almost every conceivable subject has spawned its own reality series – be it Dancing On Ice or Hillbilly-Hand-Fishing - PBS’s new show, Cool Spaces!, aims to stimulate the public’s curiosity by engaging us in the story behind some of North America’s most interesting public buildings. The AIA sponsored show, which is hosted by Boston-based architect Stephen Chungdeparts from usual architecture-related television shows, which tend to focus on makeovers of private homes. Not only will this show look at public buildings, but it will also examine the people whose lives it has affected, the places that have shaped it, and the mind of the architect who brought all of these things together to design it.

Read more about the series and see a sneak preview after the break…

Exhibition for Frank Gehry Prints and Sculpture

© Chris Santa Maria

On view now until April 13, is the Stamberg Aferiat + Associates designed exhibition for Frank Gehry prints and a sculpture for the Los Angeles-based artists’ workshop Gemini G.E.L. at Joni Moisant Weyl in . The exhibition celebrates architecture, a more than ten-year collaboration with the renowned architect, and their one-year anniversary in a designed space by architects Peter Stamberg and Paul Aferiat. The exhibit features a newly editioned sculpture and an enlarging of Gehry’s Marques de Riscal Winery image. More images and description of the exhibition after the break.

‘Frank Gehry At Work’ Exhibition

Courtesy of the artist and Leslie Feely Fine Art, LLC.

On display at Leslie Feely Fine Art in from April 11 to June 30, 2013, the Frank Gehry At Work exhibition features a selection of over 30 diverse process models by Gehry, which are drawn from significant constructions and concepts of the architect’s prolific career. These organic forms, which consist of a wide array of materials, stand as testament to Gehry’s tactile approach, enhancing our perception of this sculptural architect and his work,  illuminating the subtleties of Gehry’s thought—and working—process. More images and information on the exhibition after the break.

Gehry Designs Mixed-Use Tower for Downtown Santa Monica

© Gehry Partners

Developers M. David Paul Associates and the Worthe Real Estate Group have commissioned Frank Gehry to design a mixed-use hotel and residential tower in his hometown of , California. The 22-story “Ocean Avenue Project” aims to stimulate the coastal city’s with street-level restaurant and retail space below a 125-room hotel and 22-unit condominium tower topped with a rooftop observation deck. As for accommodating the car-centric lifestyle of the West Coast, resident and visitor parking will be available in a three-story subterranean garage beneath the tower. In addition, the developers plan to integrate a 36,000 square foot museum campus that will add a cultural perk to the development just North of its two-acre site.

Although this project looks promising, the 244-foot, Gehry-esque tower is currently pending approval from the City. A vote by the end of March will decide its fate.

More images of the “Ocean Avenue Project” after the break…

AD Classic: Norton House / Frank Gehry

Courtesy of Samuel Ludwig

Designed in 1984 for artist Lynn Norton and writer William Norton, ’s Norton House is known for its eccentric form and eclectic materiality. Much like his own house in , the Norton House is a sculptural assemblage of everyday materials. The Nortons had in fact seen Gehry’s house in 1983 and obviously approved of his experiment. So, a year later, they commissioned him to design their house on a narrow, ocean-facing plot of land on Venice Boardwalk. With the commission, Gehry continued his exploration of creating architecture with everyday materials, low costs, and sculptural forms.