Monday, June 1, 2015

Frank Gehry's Mangled Buildings

Frank Gehry (b. 1929) is a famous architect who I wouldn't commission to design a doghouse.

Unfortunately, people and organizations having pockets far deeper than mine seem to be thrilled to hire the old fellow to create yet another twisted, smashed-up appearing structure. No accounting for taste, as they've been saying for centuries.

I will grant Gehry one thing. Classical examples of modernist architecture or "International Style" (as the Museum of Modern Art called it in the 1930s), are almost always boring to look at and not human-friendly. Gehry's buildings are far from boring. They are appalling. Also not human-friendly.

My limited experience with Gehry buildings (Los Angeles' Disney, Seattle's EMP -- see images below) is that their interiors are confusingly laid out. The exteriors generally try to hide the fact that these are buildings with some sort of structure that supports them. By visually denying the logic and solidity of a building, they are disorienting, upsetting, denying their proper nature. Which does not mean that I necessarily favor structural clarity ├╝ber alles -- that was a major defect of International Style.

Gehry, his buildings, and perhaps those who commissioned them, strike me as being sad victims of perpetual adolescence; aging juvenile show-offs, if you will.

Here are some examples of Gehry's work, images found here and there on the Web.

Gallery

"Dancing House" - Prague - 1996

Experience Music Project - Seattle - 2000

Peter B. Lewis Building, Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland - 2002

Walt Disney Concert Hall - Los Angeles - 2003

Cleveland Clinic, Lou Rovo Center for Brain Health - Las Vegas - 2010

Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, University of Technology Sydney - 2015

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