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!
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.
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…
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.
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 New York, but, you know, he hasn’t yet. Architecture’s difficult … [sigh].” Read the full interview here.
Shortly after winning approval on their Frank Gehry-designed, Menlo Park headquarters in California, Facebook has announced plans to once again commission the Los Angeles-based starchitect to design a new office for their New York 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.
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 Bilbao. 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 Frank Gehry’s architecture.
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.
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 technology 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
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…
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 Chung, departs 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…
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 New York City. 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.
On display at Leslie Feely Fine Art in New York 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.
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 Santa Monica, California. The 22-story “Ocean Avenue Project” aims to stimulate the coastal city’s economy 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…
Designed in 1984 for artist Lynn Norton and writer William Norton, Frank Gehry’s Norton House is known for its eccentric form and eclectic materiality. Much like his own house in Santa Monica, 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.
The Getty Trust is partnering with Pacific Standard Time to present 11 individual exhibitions throughout LA’s museums that will explore the history and heritage of the city’s modern architecture and its influential designers. As musician, photographer and architectural blogger Moby boasts, “LA has the most diverse architecture of any city on the planet”. Pacific Standard Time Presents: Modern Architecture in LA will explore this diversity that covers post World War II architecture through today with specific points of view ranging in architectural style, influence and decade. The exhibitions, which will run from April through July 2013, are a follow-up to last year’s Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980. The focus of the exhibitions will range in scale and cover the monumental and everyday architectural moments that make LA unique. Exhibitions will present iconic modernist homes and cultural landmarks as well as coffee shops, car washes, and the freeways in addition to the un-built architectural fantasies of modernism and post-modernism.
Follow us after the break for the eleven exhibitions that will be part of PST’s event.