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November 12, 2007

Frank Gehry Environmental Impact Hall of Fame

When centuries of architectural wisdom and common sense are rejected for the sake of art, you end up with a career highlighted by some mind-boggling environmental impacts:

Who cares about personal safety when you're visiting a work of art?

Though folks like to sneer at the curious brown stain that appeared on the facade of the iconic building ("The New York Times reports Mr Gehry as saying that the problem arose when the building contractor allowed a silicon-based fireproofing sealant to spill onto the titanium" — BBC), the more serious environmental impact is the poorly designed public spaces that only appear to be inviting to muggers.

Project for Public Spaces has inducted the museum into its very own Hall of Shame:

Though it is near the center of the city, the Guggenheim shuns any relation to its context. The building challenges locals and tourists (not to mentioned handicapped people) to enter some of the least inviting public spaces and entranceways anywhere.
Only seconds after I took the pictures, the two men ran over to the couple and mugged them – they simply grabbed the camera out of their hands and ran off. Anywhere else in Bilbao, we would have yelled something and there would have been people around to try stopping them. But instead, with no one else in sight to help, we felt isolated and vulnerable, and all we could do was watch. We later told police about it, and they told us that there are muggings in that same location very frequently.


The shiny, swirling $62 million building that houses the business school at Case Western Reserve University here is a marvel to behold. But it is sometimes best admired from afar.


In its first winter, snow and ice have been sliding off the long, sloping stainless-steel roof, bombarding the sidewalk below. And in bright sun, the glint off the steel tiles is so powerful that standing next to the building is like lying on a beach with a tanning mirror.
"You might have to walk on the road to make sure you don't get hit by ice,'' said Adam Searl, a junior at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management.

''Maybe they should have thought about it before they had built the building. It's Cleveland. We get ice. We get snow. We get rain.''

2003, gunman loose in a labyrinth

The [seven-hour] standoff took place inside one of the more idiosyncratic buildings in the country. The $61.7 million Weatherhead School of Management was designed by the architect Frank Gehry and opened for this past school year. It is characterized by the jagged, polished metal surface and odd shapes that are prominent in Mr. Gehry's designs.

That made for a "constant cat-and-mouse game," said Chief Edward Lohn of the Cleveland police, with SWAT team members exchanging gunfire with the suspect as he ran to different floors, peeking and firing around corners.

"There are no right angles in the building," Chief Lohn said at a news conference late tonight, shortly after the suspect was taken into custody.

NoLandGrab: Gehry certainly isn't to blame for the 2003 rampage in which one person was killed, but it does call into question the manner in which people are forced to interact with his buildings.

If you can't take the heat... (then don't hire a starchitect)

Throughout the summer, passing motorists reported being distracted by the reflected rays, while pedestrians described having to cross the street to avoid the intense heat.

The report, which was delivered to local politicians last week, said temperatures on sidewalks adjacent to the concert hall reached higher than 58 C [136 F].

The panels were eventually sandblasted to reduce the glare, at a cost of $180,000 to the taxpayers.

All wet

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has filed a negligence suit against world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, charging that flaws in his design of the $300 million Stata Center in Cambridge, one of the most celebrated works of architecture unveiled in years, caused leaks to spring, masonry to crack, mold to grow, and drainage to back up.

Fool me twice...
Oh, and as in the case of Case Western, the Stata Center has problems with "sliding ice and snow." With any luck, maybe global warming will take care of that problem and Gehry will be deemed prescient.

Posted by lumi at November 12, 2007 2:47 PM