[ Editor’s Note: The following is a reader-submitted comment from the AN Blog in response to the post, “Gehry Lets Loose on Los Angeles, Downtown Ambitions,” which cites an interview Frank Gehry did with Los Angeles Magazine. It appeared as a letter to the editor in a recent print edition, AN07_08.14.2013. Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ]
The only thing that makes Los Angeles unique is that so much of it was built during the auto era (albeit on an infrastructural framework established during the interurban rail era). Different parts of Los Angeles were developed in a manner that was identical to how other cities across North America were being developed at the same time. The same succession of transportation, construction, and development technologies created a downtown in Los Angeles that is nearly indistinguishable from portions of San Francisco, Chicago, and Manhattan.
Writer Anne Taylor Fleming recently interviewed Frank Gehry for Los Angeles Magazine, getting a glimpse into what the architect thinks about Los Angeles and the meaning of his work there. Gehry tells Fleming about some of the missed planning and architectural opportunities that continue to challenge the city, including the push to make a bona fide downtown, which he believes stems from clinging to old ideas about what a city should be.
Frank Gehry’s design for the four-acre Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial in Washington D.C. has sparked controversy for its departure from traditional memorial design around the National Mall from the president’s family and others, prompting a third-party design competition and calls for redesign from Congress. Now the beleaguered memorial is one step closer to reality as the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) voted 3-to-1 this month to approve an updated design with additional changes to proposed woven-metal tapestries that have generated most of the public outcry.
In recent interview with the journal Foreign Policy, Frank Gehry held forth on how architecture and democracy don’t really go together. Just too many opinions, you see. “I think the best thing is to have a benevolent dictator—who has taste!” said Gehry. “It’s really hard to get consensus, to have a tastemaker. There is no Robert Moses anymore.” Why was Gehry on FP’s radar in the first place? We’re guessing it was Hillary Clinton’s Gehry name-check in one of her outgoing speeches as Secretary of State. Riffing on how institutions of the future must be dynamic rather than static, the stateswomen stated, “We need a new architecture for this new world, more Frank Gehry than formal Greek.”
Frank Gehry has unveiled renderings of its shortlisted entry for the competition to design the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), the predestined showstopper of Beijing’s new cultural district. Gehry was shortlisted alongside fellow Pritzker Prize winners Jean Nouvel and Zaha Hadid for the high-profile project. Gehry’s submission incorporates transparent cladding, an interior comprised of lofty, geometric courtyards evocative of pagodas and temples, and a layout that would accommodate nearly 12 million annual visitors.
Frank Gehry, who is currently working on Facebook’s new Silicon Valley campus in Menlo Park, California, will design a new office for the company’s New York-based engineering team at 770 Broadway in Manhattan. The move will nearly double the company’s current workspace.
In a note from Serkan Piantino, Facebook New York’s engineering team site director, the new offices will share many of the same features of Facebook’s California headquarters, but with a twist that is uniquely New York. Approximately 100,000 square feet across two floors will be updated with open, collaborative spaces, conference rooms, cozy and casual work areas, writeable surfaces, and integrated video conferencing equipment. There are also plans to build out a full service kitchen for Facebook employees.
At 770 Broadway, Facebook will join tenants AOL/Huffington Post, Adweek, JCrew, and Structure Tone. The move from their current offices at 335 Madison Avenue is scheduled for early 2014 under a 10-year lease with building owners Vornado Realty Trust.
It is not uncommon for projects to change over time, but the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site has undergone many iterations. It has been tweaked, downsized, refocused, delayed, and at one point, possibly re-located to another site. Now, the New York Times reported that the center has been whittled down from a four-stage arts complex housing multiple cultural organizations—including the International Freedom Center, Signature Theater, the Drawing Center, and the Joyce Theater—to a multidisciplinary arts space with just one main stage. The Joyce Theater is the only remaining organization that will still be part of the center, though it will not be based at the World Trade Center site as previously planned.
The next step is to find an artistic director who can oversee center and curate its programming. Frank Gehry has been working on the design of the center, but the recent changes have called for him to scale it back. Once costs and programming are nailed down, the preliminary board will move forward with fundraising efforts. Right now, though, it looks like the center won’t open its doors until 2017 or 2018.
Congress held a hearing today to discuss the funding and controversial design of the Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial designed by Frank Gehry. Representative Rob Bishop is leading the charge with a new bill that aims to oust Gehry from the $142 million project and hold a new competition to find a more “appropriate” design. The Washington Post reported that the main gripe is over the massive metal tapestries encompassing the memorial, which would display images of Eisenhower’s early childhood in Kansas. The Eisenhower family has expressed that the grandiose scale of the design, specifically the tapestries, is out of touch with the former president’s character.
Architect magazine live tweeted that there were few defenders of Gehry’s memorial at the hearing except for Rep. Holt, and a fair share of confusion over what this bill entails and ultimately means for the future of the memorial.
A new bill before the U.S. House of Representatives is seeking to build consensus to junk Frank Gehry’s design for the Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall. The bill, known as the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Completion Act, was proposed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). It cites concerns over the controversial nature of the design and its escalating costs (currently estimated at well over $100 million) and seeks to “facilitate the completion of an appropriate national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower.”
Opposition to Gehry’s proposal has been brewing for some time. The antagonists include members of Eisenhower’s family and the National Civic Art Society, which published a 153-page report that called Gehry’s scheme a “travesty” and a “Happy McMonument.”
The AIA feels differently. The association released a statement opposing Rep. Bishop’s bill. The statement does not express an opinion about the value of Gehry’s design, but rather disapproves of the “arbitrary nature” of this exercise of “governmental authority.” Lodge your feelings about the bill and/or Gehry’s design in the comments section of this post.