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« Elsewhere | Main | Building Boom »

May 26, 2005

Gehry Costs

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Interesting to learn from the WashPost's Bob Thompson and Jacqueline Trescott about imbroglios at Washington D.C.'s Corcoran Gallery of Art, where the musueum's director is resigning. In recent years, attendance at the Corcoran has been flat, and losses have piled up.

gehry_corcoran.jpg Gehry's proposed Corcoran addition

What fascinates me most about the story, though, is the way that the mess is partly a consequence of the Corcoran's having fallen for the Bilbao dream -- the hope that a signature piece of flossy new architecture might solve all its problems. In 1999, the museum commissioned a Frank Gehry addition. But funding has stalled for a number of reasons: The dot-com bust vaporized a lot of pledges, for one. Oopsie. For another, estimates for the cost of the Gehry addition have risen from an initial $60 million to a current $200 million. Double oopsie.

Small question? How eager is the public really to make yet another pilgramage to yet another Gehry titanium ribbons-and-bows showpiece?



posted by Michael at May 26, 2005


Yuk, I don't like a lot of steel, I'm more of a glass man. I want to feel like I'm outdoors when I'm indoors. Like this.

Posted by: bobby on May 26, 2005 12:35 PM

Ooooh, that picture looks like an eyesore.

Posted by: Michael on May 26, 2005 4:57 PM

I thought the Gehry building in Bilboa worked as a nice contrast to the Gaudi (this guy doesn't). But is that all there is? Is every building he designs just going to be strewn with titanium? Bit of a johnny one note, dontcha think?

Posted by: Rachel on May 26, 2005 6:01 PM

I have been working in DC a lot lately. I went to the Corcoran a couple of times. I saw the video in the lobby about about the planned Gehry addition. I thought it looked horrible. It showed disdain for the existing building and its surroundings, and there is no justification for that. I don't hate Gehry categorically. I think his new band-shell in Chicago works OK, since it is standing alone and works as sculpture. But the Gehry addition to the Corcoran would have been an atrocity. I'd walk by the site and literally cringe at how stupid and wrong and needlessly disruptive and inappropriate it would be to put it in that spot. I hope this plan is stone, cold dead and does not come back.

Posted by: Lexington Green on May 26, 2005 6:19 PM

We've got the same thing coming in our future. Check out the stories on the new art museum where I live. The message boards are especially nasty.

Posted by: ROA on May 27, 2005 11:20 AM

I've been to Gehry's Disney Hall a number of times. The auditorium is breathtaking, and a very nice place to hear music...except that the seats are narrow, and the rows are narrow, and the acoustics are such that if you sniffle everyone else in the hall hears you. Still, I've enjoyed the concerts I've heard there.

The remaining interior spaces in Disney Hall seem intended to confuse and disorient. They function, I'll give them that; traffic flows pretty well, so that getting out of the hall after a show is pretty quick. But I rarely have a good notion of where I am.

As for the outside of Disney Hall.....I'll take the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion any day.

Posted by: Will Duquette on May 28, 2005 11:04 AM

This is Dyersville in reverse-- if they will not come, you do not build it.

Hey, now we have a strategy to stop the spread of Gehritecture: boycott any place that commissions him. He'll stop coming around if you can't pay him.

Posted by: Reg Csar on May 31, 2005 2:29 AM

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