The Ugly Architect
An article (“Gehry: An American in Paris,” May 22) described the newest project by Los Angeles-based architect Frank Gehry. Its author, Leon Whiteson, spared no words in describing Gehry’s design of the American Center in Paris as “a masterpiece of compressed, eccentric energy held in balance by the tension between its elements.” He also quoted Gehry himself as saying that the center is “a dancing figure, joyous, friendly and welcoming.”
Well, I have just had it! As an architect of more that 30 years of practice, I have to say that I am sick of Gehry’s architecture. This project, as just about anything he has done, is a deliberate effort to shock the public into submission. It does not resemble a dancing figure in any way, it is not joyous, and it most definitely does not contain anything inviting. What is looks like is a discombobulating array of geometrical forms, with its leaning cylinder, falling walls and an ugly canopy that, in Gehry’s words looks “like a ballerina lifting her skirts.” One cannot readily tell where the entrance to the center is, nor can one understand the purpose of the strangely shaped box resembling a computer terminal sitting on top of the canopy.
It is an insult to American architecture to call this hodgepodge of falling geometrical forms an “American in Paris.” If anything, it may remind Americans living in Paris of California: the configuration strongly resembles a snapshot of a strange building frozen in time after an earthquake, condemned because of its lack of structural safety and awaiting the wrecking ball. Let’s hope that some unknown French building official with his feet firmly planted on the ground will see it for what it is, and deny the building permit for it.