I've always been a little unsure how I feel about Frank Gehry. When you approach one of his buildings I think it's almost impossible not to be impressed. They're soaring, beautiful and sculptural. He's a master of building a structure that reacts to the moods of the weather and of the site, and I think he's one of the only architects who has really sought to understand that, with the advent of skyscrapers and airplanes, buildings now have five facades instead of four.
But then there is the other side. Although I appreciate the sculptural forms that Gehry uses, as an urbanist I feel that physically his designs can be inaccessible. I love viewing his buildings from a distance, but walking by them (or trying to enter them) is disconcerting. And honestly, there has got to be a little bit of weird for the sake of weird going on there, right?
Anyway, the film was a very good documentary, but it left me feeling just as ambivalent as when I went in. The videos of Gehry's buildings were beautiful. The videos of Gehry designing made you feel as though his buildings are absolutely arbitrary. So I'm really just not sure what I think.
I've gotten to see (and photograph) four of Gehry's buildings (that I'm aware of anyway) so I'll just post some pictures and see how others feel.
The Weisman Art Museum - Minneapolis, Minnesota
I really like the Weisman. I think it's the most accessible of Gehry's work that I've seen. To me it feels like a reflection of the natural rock formations on the Mississippi River cliffs around Minnesota.
Walt Disney Concert Hall - Los Angeles, California
The Disney Concert hall is certainly beautiful, but again I question how much it actually adds to LA's downtown. It's a beautiful sculpture, but what kind of building is it?
DZ Bank - Berlin
It's the building on the left. This one is really hard to recognize until you go inside. There were a lot of zoning requirements for the building (it's right next to the Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag), so Gehry was forced to keep the craziness inside. It's a beautiful interesting building that I feel shows that a little restraint isn't such a bad thing.
The Stata Center at MIT - Cambridge, Massachusetts
The Stata is the linguistics building at MIT. It's one of Gehry's stranger buildings. It's not in a prominent location and it switches back and forth between a very conservative red brick facade (this is New England after all) and short bursts of shiny titanium.