After being rejected for appearing too “boxy” and not appealing enough to pedestrians, Related Companies’ revamped Grand Avenue vision has finally won unanimous approval from county supervisors. The $750-million plan, which was abruptly halted back in September when Gensler’s toned-down version was deemed greatly “disappointing” by the city, will now move forward with a more playful (and pricey) design by the project’s original architect, Frank Gehry.
This time last year we published our 30 Architecture Docs to Watch in 2013 featuring a fantastic range of films telling the tales of some of the world’s greatest unsung architectural heroes. We now bring you eleven more for 2014, looking past the panoply of stars to bring you more of the best architectural documentaries which will provoke, intrigue and beguile.
For Peter Aspden’s first encounter with the architect of the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in LA, Frank Gehry did not “exude sweetness.” “You are not going to call me a [...] ‘star-chitect’? I hate that.” In a candid interview with the Financial Times, Gehry discusses the problem of being branded for beginning the Bilbao Effect in spite of the fact that he insists that “you can’t escape your signature.” Gehry talks at length about Facebook’s latest headquarters and, in particular, his relationship with his client, Mark Zuckerberg. Read the full interview here.
After reviewing proposals from a selection of other firms, Related Companies has chosen to move forward with Frank Gehry’s Grand Avenue vision for Los Angeles. The design, which abandons the fluid forms of Gehry’s original scheme, has been described by critic Christopher Hawthorne as “significantly more exuberant and suggestive of L.A. culture” than Gensler and Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ recently rejected proposal.
In a recent article for the Denver Post, Ray Rinaldi discusses how the box is making a comeback in U.S. museum design. Stating how architecture in the 2000’s was a lot about swoops, curves, and flying birds – see Frank Gehry and Santiago Calatrava - he points out the cool cubes of David Chipperfield and Renzo Piano. We’ve rounded up some of these boxy works just for you: the Clyfford Still Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum Expansion, The St. Louis Art Museum’s East Building, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Barnes Foundation, and Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum. Each project begins to show how boxes can be strong, secure, and even sly. Check out more about the article here.
“Will Grand Avenue finally turn around? Most likely not until they make it a two-way, add more trees, bike lanes, and pedestrian amenities. Buildings alone can’t do it, no matter how daring, novel (or expensive) the architecture.” — Guy Horton, The Indicator, “Ten Years Later, Has the Disney Concert Hall Made a Difference?“
The latest controversy surrounding the Grand Avenue re-design, the long-awaited project to develop the stretch of land east of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, is the re-instatement of Frank Gehry, a move which occurred after the city of LA rejected plans from mega-developers Related Cos. (designed by Gensler in collaboration with Robert A.M. Stern) for being “overly commercial.” Of course, while the Related Cos. plans may have failed to wow the city, the decision to bring Gehry back to the project hasn’t exactly been embraced either.
A must-see article in Zócalo Public Square asks four urban planning experts, “what would you do with Grand Avenue?” In his latest ArchDaily column, Guy Horton offers his opinion: any re-design must rely on activating life on the street-level, rather than on one architectural solution. Well, ArchDaily readers, now we’d like to know your thoughts on the matter.
On October 23rd, the Walt Disney concert hall, the project that almost never was, will celebrate its ten-year anniversary. Throughout these ten years it has had all manner of transformative power attributed to it. But has it really transformed LA? What would the city have been like if it had never been built? Would it be fundamentally different?
The answer? No.The city wouldn’t even be that different in the immediate vicinity of Grand Avenue.
The Los Angeles Times’ Christopher Hawthorne may have hoped for (and indeed hinted at the possibility) of Frank Gehry’s return to the Grand Avenue Project, the long-awaited plan to develop the stretch of land east of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, but now the speculation has finally become fact. Speaking last week at a panel discussion meant to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Disney Hall, Gehry finally put the rumors to rest.
More details, after the break.
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 skyscrapers can tell us something about the temperature of an overheating economy, what do these groundscraping new HQs say?” Read the full article here.
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.