Frank Gehry on Downtown LA and Barry Diller’s design sensibilities

The 88-year-old starchitect is not pulling any punches

Feb.February 22, 2018 03:00 PM
Architect Frank Gehry and the iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall (Credit: Getty Images)

Frank Gehry, the architect best known for his undulating designs and well, his frankness, opened up about past projects, bossy clients, the state of development in Los Angeles and New York, and his own future.

In an interview with the Commercial Observer, Gehry did not pull any punches.

Gehry reiterated his criticisms of the High Line, recalling that he referred to the immensely popular public garden in Manhattan as a “relic, rusting railroad bridge,” when approached about doing a similar redevelopment project around the Los Angeles River.

He also had some choice words for development in Downtown L.A.: “It looks like practically every other city in the world… It’s crappy,” he said. That was not the first time Gehry has voiced his criticism on that topic.

Gehry himself has a chance to leave a lasting imprint on the L.A. skyline with The Grand, his two-tower mixed-use development for Related Companies. That is slated to rise just across from his iconic Walt Disney Concert Hall on Grand Avenue.

Back to Manhattan, he discussed Bruce Ratner, who removed Gehry from the Pacific Park — formerly known as Atlantic Yards — massive redevelopment project in 2009. For that, the 88-year-old has no hard feelings. But he also hasn’t seen any of the construction, which includes the Barclays Center arena. Why? Because he “loved that project so much,” he said.

Gehry also touched on the process behind the design of Barry Diller’s IAC Building on West 18th Street in Chelsea. According to Gehry, part of the building’s sweeping, frosted-glass design came about inadvertently when Diller first saw a model of it.

“And, by accident, the first models were made with white plastic, and he loved that, and he said, ‘I want a white building.’”

Even with a dozens of projects big and small in his pocket, Gehry doesn’t have plans to slow down. On retiring, he said, “you wouldn’t want me to retire. I’d turn into a monster.”  [Commercial Observer] – Dennis Lynch

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