Gehry: My Days As A Young Rebel – TED Talk Tuesday

Frank Gehry – you either love him or hate him.
Gehry’s Biomuseo. Image ©Jeff Campagna

Frank Gehry – you either love his work or you hate it. Is his architecture compelling or is he the worst living architect on the planet? The debate rages on throughout design and architecture blogs all across the internet. Being an internet nerd, but not a big architect buff, I started asking around the PJHM office. What did some of my colleagues think about Gehry’s work? Here’s a great summarization:

Early in Gehry’s career he was somewhat conventional, and slowly began integrating new technologies to enhance form and structural flexibility. He borrowed from ship building technology, integrating and later designing their own software to accomplish these feats. This integrated, cross-disciplinary approach coupled with Frank’s inherent talent of facilitation and client relations allowed his partnership to flourish. Respect must be given to the ingenuity and risk his firm took during that period.

When you look closely at the detailing of those early buildings utilizing expressive form, there were many flaws, and subsequently hefty maintenance issues and lawsuits prevailed (leaking, reflectivity, snow shedding, etc.). One cannot judge another architect based on style or form, as it is purely subjective, although if the building leaks, then the architect must be held accountable.

Image ©
Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center, Las Vegas. Image ©
Screenshot 2014-07-22 10.50.49
The Experience Music Project in Seattle. Image ©Wikipedia
Screenshot 2014-07-22 10.50.24
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Image ©Wikipedia

So let’s hear from the man himself. Before he was a legend, Gehry takes a whistlestop tour of his early work, from his house in Venice Beach to the American Center in Paris, which was under construction (and much on his mind) when he gave this talk.

Though Gehry is known for his concert halls and museums, he has built a few vertical towers over the course of his career in New York, Hong Kong, and Germany.  And soon enough Los Angeles might be joining this list by getting its very own and very first Gehry flagship tower.  Wilshire boulevard, which has historically been lined with low rise buildings, will have an entirely different feel once Peter Zumthor’s LACMA addition, the planned subway station, and now a possible mixed use high rise are constructed.  Talk about a transformation!

la-et-g-museum-tower-20140709The proposed museum/hotel/condo tower would be built at the site of the current independent Architecture + Design Museum, which then brings up the question of what is going to happen to A+D?  Michael Govan, director of LACMA answers this question along with the development of Peter Zumthor’s design in this podcast on KCRW.