Thursday, May 6, 2021

‘what do I have to do?’ Frank Gehry, 92, is too busy to retire

Los Angeles – It was midnight on Monday and Pritzker Award-winning architect Frank Gehry – Despite being 92 years old in just one epidemic, the Grand Avenue development completed the top floor of his building, and prepared for a show of new sculpture at the Gagosian Gallery – There was little interest in sitting back to reflect this potentially meaningful moment in his life and career.

Instead, he was on the move – giving his first studio tour since the Kovid-19 outbreak, far more eager to discuss the myriad designs he has done, most of which have gone ahead. (Only a high rise in Manhattan Hudson yards Stalled, and his office laid off eight of the 170 employees as a result).

Projects include this city’s version of New York’s High Line along the Los Angeles River; New office building In Burbank for Warner Bros., and the beautiful design he’s working for Jazz opera, “By Wayne Shorter and Alexandra Spelding, who are moving to the Kennedy Center in December. About 3,000 miles away, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is set to unveil its Gehry-design renovation and interior expansion in May (part of an event). Architect’s plan to take).

Asked if he considered taking a break or withdrawing, given his age and achievements, Gehry rejected the idea. “what do I have to do?” he said. “I enjoy this stuff.”

Resounding from his vast work space, the architect said he has now reached a point in his career, where he has the luxury of focusing on what matters to him: promoting social justice Projects.

“I’m just free,” he said, “now that I don’t have to worry about fees.”

Gehry’s insistence on giving back appears to have intensified his commitment to the city. For example, he is designing housing for homeless elders on Wilhere Boulevard. And about six years ago, he and activist Malisa Shriver founded Turnaround Arts: California, A non-profit institute that brings arts education to needy schools in the state.

Gehri said, “They are laborers of love.”

He has volunteered his time in designing a new home for the youth orchestra Los Angeles (Yola), the youth-focused educational arm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which is located south of the city’s Inglewood Civic Center, to be completed in June .

Gehry said he was inspired by Venezuela’s publicly funded music education program, “El Sistema” Which gives the Understand children a chance to play in the orchestra. Gustavo Dudamel, the musical and artistic director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a product of that program, who fills similar roles for Yola, wrote Gehry “a metaphor that says’ beauty matters.”

In turning the 1960s bank building into a concert hall for the youth orchestra, Gehry said he moved the organization forward to raise a little extra money for the size of his Walt Disney concert hall, a 45-foot theater. “It pops up,” he said, “like a lighthouse for the community.”

Gehry – who built a center for the New World Symphony in Miami as well as Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain and Guga. Guggenheim branch plans for Abu Dhabi – remains animated by cultural projects with an educational component (she recently joined the board of the Herzi Hancock Institute of Jazz, a non-profit organization that trains young musicians).

He is perhaps most active about the river project – an effort funded by the Los Angeles County Public Department to revive the 51-mile channel that runs from Canaga Park to Long Beach and to prevent flooding in 1938 It was created.

River La, A non-profit group – Mayor Eric M. Gehri was recruited to develop a master plan for the site – with Garcetti’s support; Out of that came the idea for an urban stage park on concrete with a grassy location and a $ 150 million cultural center.

called the SELA Cultural Center (Named after the southeast Los Angeles location), it will be funded with public and private funds and serve as a venue for local artists as well as professionals. Possibilities to contribute to programming include Dudamel; Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; And Benjamin Milpid, founder of La Dance Project.

This cultural component has not yet taken a distinctive form. Milepied said he would “identify and start with the best local dance organizations and understand how to best collaborate with them.”

But some have Criticized Gehry’s involvement In the project – a public comment period on the plan recently ended – as big-footed community leaders, lacking experience with outdoor space and inviting Gentrification.

“Potential for a tragic backfire is huge,” Recently warned of an op-ed In the Los Angeles Times. “We can put millions of public dollars into a plan that looks impressive but outshines its target audience – communities that have found it difficult to survive in recent decades.”

Gehry has tried to address such concerns and insisted in an interview that his focus was on creating affordable housing and open spaces.

“We are working on social housing opportunities,” Gehry said, “to promote home ownership among the current population.”

Nevertheless, activists are unhappy about Gehry’s approach to the project, preferring to return the tributary to its original condition. “As famous as Giri is, and as much as fame has brought attention to the river, there is no better architect than Mother Nature,” said Marissa Kristiansen, executive director Friends of la river, An advocacy group.

He said, Gehry’s current proposal “reflects the lack of novelty and comprehensive understanding of the watershed that feeds the river”. “It has not been fully studied to see if there are other possibilities.”

Gehry, as the face of his firm, remains the target of such criticism, but Gehry Partners is made up of long-term working members who work closely with him, including his wife, Berta, Meghan Lloyd, David Nam, Craig Webb, Tensho Takemori. , Laurence Tighe, John Bowers and Jennifer Ehrman.

The operation has become a family affair. Besides the head of finance, Bertha Gehry, Gehry’s son Sam is also an architect (he) Was made His father’s new Santa Monica home) and his second son, Alejandro, Is an artist who works in his father’s projects. (Gehry’s daughter, Brina, teaches yoga in New York.) “We’re a mom and pop shop,” Gerry said.

And while she may be a lightning rod on a river project, she also engages in more lighted instruments, such as her Reinterpretation of Hennessy XO Bottle for the 150th Anniversary of Cognac last year: a 24-carat gold bronze bronze sculpture, adorned in sculpture glass.

Inspired by her 5-year-old granddaughter, who calls her “Nano”, Gerry created an oversized “Alice in Wonderland” tea party with the Mad Hatter. The piece, suspended from the ceiling with polyvinyl and copper vertical vertical fish lamps, will be featured at Gehry’s sculpture show, which will open on June 24 at the Beverly Hills location in Gagosian.

“Late in his life, he is free to be creative without actually compromising or collaborating,” said Deborah McLeod, the gallery’s senior director. “How fun it is for Frank Gehry to get what he wants.”

While the architect appears a bit rougher and his hair more intelligent, he continues the childhood excitement about design details.

Like how he played with a metal block for Swiss art patron Major Hoffmann $ 175 Million Arts Complex, Luma Arles, is scheduled to open in late June.

He is experimenting with a soft metal to achieve the effect of a watercolor painting with his design for the Museum of Medicine on the campus of China Medical University in Taichung, Taiwan. “By turning the metal,” Gehry said, “you will get a beautiful surface.”

And how he used white glass for his Warner Bros. project along the Ventura Freeway, as he did for Barry Diller IAC World Headquarters On the West Side Highway in New York City. “I thought of them like an iceberg,” Gehry said of his buildings, “floating along the freeway.”

Wearing a blue T-shirt and brown cordeur, his reading glasses topped his head, the architect talked about how much he enjoyed his give-and-take. Jeffrey vorte, The developer of the Warner Bros. project for which Gehry is also designing Hotel complex on Ocean Avenue In Santa Monica. “He cared about architecture,” Gehry said.

Worthe said he is surprised by Gehry’s openness to input and cost savings. “He never thinks it’s perfect,” Vorte said, “never thinks he’s got all the answers.”

This is not to say that Gehry does not maintain a healthy ego. In talking The popular contemporary art museum he designed for the Louis Vuitton Foundation In 2014, the architect said, “I think we did it very well.”

And he clearly takes pride in designing private homes for major clients, such as the elegant family complex for Hassan Mansoor in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Surman Automotive Group. Or colorado “meeting House“He designed for Michael and Jane Isner in 2018 with a contour stainless steel roof.

Perhaps most notably, Guggenheim Bilbao created the idea of ​​destination architecture de rigueur, though Gehry said he was focused on the challenges ahead, not the ones he had already accomplished.

“I don’t know if I take credit for anything,” Gehry said. “I’m not interested in that.”

“I’m proud of what I’ve done,” he continued, “but I can look at projects and see all the things I should have done differently.”

A project retains a special distinction of place: the Pair of towers He is part of the King Street development in his original Toronto – the architect’s longest project ever.

“New York has the Rockefeller Center – it’s a coherent architectural piece and it lives,” Gehry said, holding its own.

“My grandmother’s street is just there,” Gehry said, pointing to a rendering on the wall. “My grandfather’s hardware store was here. So I hung out on this road.

“The city gave us extra height,” he said, “because it was coming to my house.”

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