Archive for the ‘Gehry’ Category

Luring tourists with whales

Along Route 66 in Catoosa, Oklahoma

Frank Gehry – Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain


In L.A. County, a Mayne goes up, a Gehry comes down


Thom Mayne and Morphosis’ new $50 million home for astronomers, the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics at Caltech in Pasadena. Though not yet open, the building already appeals to me more than does much of the work of Morphosis. Mayne seems to be softening, here and at his La Phare tower in Paris. This work is less aggressive, more contextual, even beautiful the way the sun hits the ochre, Italian-ish panels. I like how he brings natural light in to the lower level. The interior will have stairwells and other areas designed to cause random interaction between the scientists working there.

This all gives me hope for Morphosis’ new academic building at Cooper Union in NYC which we know will be interesting on the interior. But that one has the mesh metal facade that Mayne / Morphosis seem to favor. They’ve softened it up, compared to their earlier work but it still risks being too hard and sharp for an urban environment.

In Pasadena, much of the budget went to provide special conditions for the laboratories, and of course to safeguard it all in the event of an earthquake. Why do so many L.A. buildings look as if the quake already hit? I guess I answered my own question.

While the Mayne goes up…. remember

Frank Gehry’s Santa Monica Place mall from 1980, renovated in 1991 and again in 1996?

Kiss it good-bye.

To be replaced by next year with a new mall designed by the Jon Jerde partnership.

Gehry’s adjacent gridded parking lot remains

at least for now. That’s the one with – on the other side – “Santa Monica Place” writ large in the chain link.

(Blocked by trees. Ah, what architects suffer!) Santa Monica Place was not Gehry’s greatest work but I’d have liked to have seen him design the new mall on this site.

Well, as they’d say in L.A., the glory of Santa Monica Place will live on forever in film and TV such as Pretty in Pink, Terminator 2 and Beverly Hills 90210.

Frank Gehry and "Ungapatchket"


I’ve seen a little written about

Frank Gehry’s installation at the current Venice Biennale.

But nothing about its wonderful name. He calls it Ungapatchket.

Man, I should be a millionaire by now. Everything I created as a child I was told was
Ungapatchket. Well actually, Ongepotchket.

It’s Yiddish for “messed up. Thrown together. Not carefully assembled. Or, excessively decorated.”

I know Frank Gehry, aka Ephraim Goldberg harzs Yiddish. When I interviewed him about

the open trellis he designed to go in front of his bandshell in Millennium Park in Chicago, and I asked him what Chicagoans will do when it rains, because unlike in L.A. it rains often and a lot in Chicago, Gehry told me, “They didn’t want to spend the money for a retractable cover, so, you’ll throw a schmata over it!” Yiddish for rag.

And on that same trip he told the New York Times,

Over an egg-white omelet at the Ritz cafe (whose ornate decor he dismissed as ”ongepotchket,” or excessively embellished), Mr. Gehry said he was tantalized by the chance to work in Chicago, ”the architecture city of America.”

For the record: Ongepotchket

An adjective based on a past participle, of the verb ‘onpatshken’, to sully. The stem of the verb is Slavic, and the prefix is Germanic, cognate with German an-. The differences in spelling reflect both the various ways of spelling Yiddish words with Roman letters, as well as differences in dialect — ‘un’ is southern, and ‘on’ is northern. According to the YIVO system used by scholars to write Yiddish words with Roman letters, the word is spelled ‘ongepatshket.’ but other spellings can be fine.

As a side note, the same Slavic root gives rise to another less common Yinglish word, ‘potchkey,’ meaning to fiddle around.

Maybe that’ll be the next piece by Gehry. Potchkey.

Photo: Frank Gehry Ungapatchket
2008, Photo Giorgio Zucchiatti, © Fondazione La Biennale di Venezia

Dancing on Gehry


Click on one of the photos.

From the New York Times listing: NOÉMIE LAFRANCE The site-specific choreographer Noémie Lafrance might just have found her holy grail in the Frank Gehry-designed Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. Her “Rapture” will not take place in it, but on it, with dancers traveling across the voluptuous surface using a sophisticated rigging system. (Through Oct. 5.) At 7 p.m., Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.; (845) 758-7900,; $25.

How will she follow this up? By tackling Gehry buildings around the world, of course.


Eames again


Eames elephants, house and showroom.

I love L.A. And how when you put an elephant near Disney Hall you learn something about that organic architecture. Gehry’s sail-like, billowy, watery curves take on new connotations. It’s like in the poem The Blind Men and an Elephant.

“It was six men of La-La Land…”

If you’re at work, turn down the volume. Unless you want the sounds of elephants bellowing throughout your workplace. I think if you like Horton hears a who! you’ll like this.


What goes up must come down.

Lee Bey has a nice post on the photos of Charles W. Cushman, taken around the country between about 1938 and 1969. Lee likes this photo, he says it’s Dali-esque.

The swooping lines and the corner bay window immediately reminded me of

Fred and Ginger, by Frank Gehry, in Prague. Interesting what happens when architects portray a challenge to gravity.

And when you see the above, it’s always interesting to see a photo of the other Fred and Ginger, also light as two feathers,

Happy Holidays! And check out Lee’s blog, The Urban Observer. It’s been superb lately. With his own fantastic photographs.

And if Fred and Ginger, either in building or in blood, didn’t warm you up, here are two more shots of summer from Charles W. Cushman.

John Silber – Architecture of the Absurd


Silber: “How Genius Disfigured a Practical Art.”
10 minute video.

How local TV news disfigures discussion about architecture. Sad.

The problem with America’s built environment is not Frank Gehry’s Stata Center (whose interior impresses me more and more each time I see it. The exterior I still find a little tragi-comic for upright Cambridge.) The problem is the bland, boring and cheap buildings you might see on the way to Stata. The ones with not enough art or thought in them.


Nice curves and skin
Have you seen the cladding that just went up on the ramp to Trump Chicago’s parking garage?

It may be the best part of the building. The ramp seems to flare out a bit, almost like a flower. And the green tint is nice, it has some life to it, and it’s marine-like, like much of this tower along the Chicago river. The ramp is not on the riverfront, it’s on the Wabash Avenue side.

Were the glass not green, it would look even more like Frank Gehry’s glass at IAC/InterActiveCorp Headquarters in New York.

The curves of Trump’s parking ramp complement the curves on the edges of the building. And in our straight-lined, right-angled downtown, such sensuality shocks. As does Bertrand Goldberg’s curved auditorium at Marina City, which complements the curves of that riverside structure.
-E ‘scuse me, while I kiss the sky.

Marina City photo by Ron Schramm/Edelman Gallery


Serra Gehry Meier Munch

If you can’t make it to New York, to see the Richard Serra show opening today at MoMA

See Frank Gehry’s “hallway” at Disney Hall in Los Angeles

If you can’t make it to Los Angeles to see Gehry behind Disney Hall,
walk along and through his bridge in Chicago

If you can’t walk Gehry’s only bridge,
lean back against Richard Meier’s Getty Center in L.A.

Each unique but related.

And if you can’t lean back against Meier’s Getty Center,



Photo of Serra’s “Sequence” (2006), Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times


They build magic mountains in L.A.

and across the street, lakes

over parking lots.

It’s a lovely fantasy for now.