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The World’s Worst Living Architect



It’s hard to argue against the point that Frank Gehry is a terrible architect:

Gehry long ago stopped pursuing any interesting material or tectonic experimentation—and he used to be an interesting architect!—to become the multi-billion dollar equivalent of a Salvador Dalì poster tacked to the wall in a stoned lacrosse player’s dorm room, an isn’t-it-trippy pile of pseudo-psychedelic bullshit that everyone but billionaire urban developers can see through right away. What’s particularly frustrating about Gehry’s career is that he’s somehow meant to be cool, a kind of sci-fi architect for the Millennial generation, a Timothy Leary of CAD; but he’s Guy Fieri, his buildings hair-gelled monsters of advanced spatial douchebaggery.

His work is badly constructed, ravey-balls hair metal, a C.C. DeVille guitar solo that cannot—will not—end until the billionaire clients who keep paying for this shit can be stopped. Worse, no matter how much diagrammatic handwaving someone like architectural theorist extraordinaire Peter Eisenman can do—and he can do an awful lot of it—to convince you that Gehry is, or was once long ago, on to something interesting, these buildings are not even compelling from a theoretical standpoint. So, yeah, he used software normally found in airplane design—great. That’s awesome. I can imagine amazing things coming out of such an irreverent mixing of design tools.

But the results are just crumpled Reynold’s Wrap on an otherwise white-bread interior, a boring, room-by-room grid surrounded by hair spray, like some lunatic version of Phyllis Diller blown up to the size of a city block and frozen mid-stroke.

I was talking about this on Facebook and DJW pointed out this Gehry monstrosity in Prague:


I believe the architectural theory behind this is called “I’m going to take a huge dump on your historical neighborhood.” I mean, it’s mostly well-established that modern buildings can coexist with historical buildings in a pretty seamless way, but ultimately they still have to respect what is already there. This, in my humble opinion, fails miserably on this account. This building is all ego. Although if someone was paying me this much to build this kind of thing, I would too.

And to Gehry’s credit, a union friend of mine says that he demands the use of union labor in all his buildings. Which is great but like a Pontiac of the 1970s, it’s necessary to remember that it’s not the workers’ fault for the poor design.

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