Good Saturday morning, friends! Come in out of the cold and join me for a cuppa before you head out on your weekend errands. I was really hoping we could take a journey today, have an adventure, but I’m still not quite up for it. I thought about having Jolly take you, but … well … while I adore the little guy, he’s even more directionally challenged than I am, and I was afraid I might not see you again for a month! But I did find a couple of fun things for us to start the weekend.
Ever hear of Frank Gehry? No? I hadn’t either, until I came across some strange-looking buildings and found that they were all designed by the same architect: Frank Gehry.
Frank Gehry is a Canadian-born American architect, residing in Los Angeles. A number of his buildings, including his private residence, have become world-renowned attractions. His works are cited as being among the most important works of contemporary architecture in the 2010 World Architecture Survey, which led Vanity Fair to label him as “the most important architect of our age”.
Let’s take a look at some of his buildings …
The Fred And Ginger or The Dancing House in the Chech Capital is one of the most controversial works of Gehry, because of the audacity that he had when he thought of and implemented the idea of building two modern, dancing buildings that don’t fit in with their classical surroundings. Yet unusual shapes have enriched Prague’s old town and now it’s iconic. Oh, and the name ‘Fred and Ginger’ was chosen because of the dancers Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers that inspired Frank Gehry.
This massive construction looks like it’s melting under Seattle’s mellow sun, yet it’s far from that. This sheet-metal covered structure was inspired by the rock music and the energy that it embodies. Gehry even admitted that the preparations included buying and putting together guitar pieces in order to create a form which would inspire the soon-to-be the museum of pop culture.
A small Spanish Town in a region that is famous for its wine today is probably even better known for something way more extravagant. It’s yet another boundary-breaking Gehry’s work and it’s a luxury hotel that looks like something that would make Don Quixote forget about windmills and start preparing for a much bigger battle.
The full name of this building is “The Ray and Maria Stata Center for Computer, Information and Intelligence Sciences” and it’s was designed for none other than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was built in the place of Building 20, a place which was surrounded by legends and local M.I.T. folklore. Since 2004 the Stata Center has attracted so much attention that it’s become a legend of its own.
This work is not a museum, nor a concert hall, in fact, it’s something quite to the contrary. It’s a center for brain health, or as the full name goes The Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. Lou Ruvo is a businessman from Las Vegas, who lost his father due to complications of Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore he initiated the project and in 2010 it became reality.
Despite having completed many cutting-edge projects all over the world, this one was the first in Europe. It’s a museum that exhibits furniture and interior design pieces and solutions, yet it’s the building itself that attracts the most attention. It’s special in more ways than one – it was the first time Gehry said yes to curved forms in his project. The result speaks for itself.
Even though It looks like something where Ice King from Adventure Time would live in if he had a house in Spain, Guggenheim Bilbao serves a big purpose – it’s a museum of modern and contemporary art which in itself is a piece of art. Named as one of the most important works of architecture in the last decades by numerous experts, this building has many reasons why it’s unique. This construction was so successful and well acclaimed that it started attracting tourists to the city of Bilbao. Lots of tourists. During the first 12 months since the museum opened, tourists generated $160 million for the local economy. This building basically revived an entire city. This economical phenomenon even received a name – the Bilbao Effect.
Biomuseo, an ecology museum, was yet another step for Gehry, as this was his first project in Latin America. Panamanian politicians started talks with Gehry about realizing his works in this location in hopes that this would eventually create a “Bilbao Effect” and attract more tourists and investments. The bright colors, which is not a typical characteristic of Gehry’s work, were chosen to represent the rich nature of Panama.
In 2015, Gehry’s influence reached the seventh continent when he finished his first project in Australia. It’s a business school building of the University of Technology Sydney and it’s estimated that in order to create an unusual brick building like this one, they had to use around 320,000 custom-made bricks.
Fondation Louis Vuitton is a museum and a cultural center that rests in Paris, surrounded by the Bois de Boulogne park. It took 3,600 glass panels and 19,000 concrete panels to form this armada-looking structure. It opened in 2014 and is the most famous addition to the Parisian art world in the XXI century, where pieces by artists like Andy Warhol or Roy Lichtenstein are exhibited.
Yes, it’s what it looks like – a colossal abstract fish. This eye-catching sculpture was presented to the world back in 1992, during the preparations for the Olympics that took place in Barcelona later the same year. It’s made of metal plates so the humongous fish reflects sunlight and therefore changes its colors and looks even more vivid in real life.
Martha Herford was a textile factory, but with a touch by Frank Gehry, it was transformed into a contemporary art museum. An art museum that looks like it was built out of clay. On Mars. By aliens.
Originally known as the Chiat/Day building, it didn’t take long until people started referring to it as the Binoculars building. And it’s not difficult to see why. The whole building is more than the giant binoculars, which, actually, are an original artwork by Claes Oldenburg and serve as an addition to the building itself.
Well … what did you think? Some pretty wild architecture, eh? What was your favourite? Maybe in our travels one of these days we’ll visit some of them and see them up close! And now, because you all know how I love animals, and also for the younger readers who were likely bored by the tour of the buildings, I end with an adorable video about a kitten named Churro the Purro, born with deformed back legs, and how he overcame his disability to become a beloved family member.
Have a fun and safe weekend, my friends!
*Header image is The Iac Building in New York. No sparkly and shiny sheet-metal in sight, which automatically made The Iac Building stand out from other creation by Frank Gehry. That’s why it’s said that above its resemblance to the sails of a ship, it’s conceptually closest to an iceberg. And indeed it looks like one, resting in the ocean that is New York.