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Posts tagged ‘gehry’

What makes an architect or building good? Even great?

What is great architecture? What makes a building “good?”

As a woman, my buildings are immediately a political statement, a statement on my gender. I am often described as a “female architect” rather than just “architect.” But rather than let the politics of the system control my work: politics and aesthetics inspire and innovate me.

I don’t think great architecture comes from architects who dedicate themselves to one kind of project. After awhile, those two dozen office headquarters you’ve designed start to look alike. But good architecture isn’t just about vision either, it’s about a personal mission and a philosophy. Deciding what architecture meant to me and what creating a building meant—what it represented—was a seminal decision in my career and in my style.

In all of my projects, I try to imbue what I describe as humane modernism: buildings that are well built, that foster connections, and inspire their inhabitants, are an ethical responsibility. And this is a challenge.

Often times, the projects I take on have a moral and environmental dilemma to face; tight sites, tight budgets, modern but environmentally conscious design that can echo the voice of the clients. How can a Planned Parenthood clinic be both warm, opening but secure? How can a residence on a cliff (with a 200 foot drop) look romantic, modern but still fit on its rural site? And all while working with clients with their very own opinions.

I have designed health centers and multi-family residences. I have designed headquarters and homes, some from scratch and others were given to me with bones. In each project, I consider and apply my philosophy.

But your vision or mission doesn’t need to be morally or politically oriented like mine. Gehry’s façades play with perspective and his interiors with space. He challenges what a building can be. Hadid looked towards angularity that is still fluid. She compromised nothing

Discovering what philosophy motivates your creation—that is good architecture.



A Classic

What Mr. Gehry is saying, then, is that there can be beauty in such harsh elements when they are carefully wrought and precisely put together, that they can create a new kind of order which can yield as much physical ease and comfort as a conventional house. – Paul Goldberger

I just got back from LA where I went to the Gehry House for the first time in almost fifteen years. If you don’t know, the existing house was bought in Los Angeles the 1970s and then remodeled by Gehry. It is iconic modernism and deconstructivism. It has won the 25-year AIA 2012 Building award.

Frank Gehry’s architecture comes with a slew of descriptors: innovative, sensuous, modern. But the Gehry House in Los Angeles is a classic. And I know it’s hard to believe that one could ever call a Frank Gehry house a classic. But there is something so bold and yet so right about this remodel. Nothing fussy, nothing dated, even 25 years later.

I like it even better now than I did when I was a young architect because now I can actually understand just what real courage and vision it took to complete a project like this.

When Gehry purchased the property, the original house was not torn down. Instead, he skillfully wove his architecture around and against the original building. The old and new are now in a dialogue with each other, loudly but also joyfully and whimsically. Gehry had the brains, balls and restraint (an undervalued trait in architecture) to make something this good.

What a relief to see no fake historicism! No egomaniac modernism! And not even a hint of Dwell modernism (you know the kind: flat roof with extended overhangs and lots of Ipe siding! Gehry looked to innovate, to create, and not to replicate.

And despite what you may think, money was an object for Gehry. The chain-link fence or corrugated metal were inelegant, inexpensive materials for an elegant design. Cheap doesn’t always mean bad and besides, Frank Gehry still lives in the house. The project has clearly served his family well.

I will not bore you with anymore “archibabble,” considering the fact that many architectural critics have written much more insightful articles than I could about this project.

I just want you all to remember the next time you go to LA go check it out;  it will knock your socks—or flip flops (it is LA after all)–off.

For more information and quotes, keep reading after the jump.

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