Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Art Museum's Gehry Plot

I assumed that the Philadelphia Museum of Art's selection of Frank Gehry as the architect for its 10-year, $500 million, underground expansion would be cause for cheering among those who have always felt that the city's cultural elite suffered from a vestigial Quaker reticence. But I underestimated the ability of Philadelphians to gripe about just about anything. I've been receiving emails suggesting that the choice was really just the usual Philadelphia caution in disguise, since Gehry's galleries will be located entirely within the belly of the museum and won't be visible from the street. One correspondent even suggested this fabulous conspiracy theory: The museum chose Gehry because that means the Barnes Foundation won't be able to pick him to design their new home on the parkway. Philadelphia's gets to wave the avant-garde flag without having to look at it!

Actually, I think Gehry is an inspired choice by the art museum. He's a wonderful sculptor of space. He may be one of the few architects who will be able to making those catacombs below the Beaux-Arts museum feel exciting and fresh. Gehry's not unerring, as Paul Goldberger's analysis of his Brooklyn project shows, but it will be interesting observe the marriage of a converted Angelino with one of Philadelphias most august institutions.

8 Comments:

Anonymous davis said...

It is really ironic, isn't it, that a city so fearful of dramatic modern architecture will put his work undergound. Nonetheless, Gehry is more than able to make this an exciting space.

It's the above ground stuff that seems to stump us. I'm surely not the only one waiting with baited breath for the design of the new Barnes (should that miracle ever happen). And to have something both exciting -and- beautiful there would be the best thing since sliced bread in this town.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah because anything modern equals amazing. Also anyone who doesn't agree must love all faux colonials.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anything modern equals amazing? I hope you were joking...

11:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would there even be a Parkway if it were not for the openness of the Quakers of Philadelphia? What failed Philadelphia was the raciest abandonment of the city by the post war generation, leading in part to the failure of the city as a center of business. I don't think anyone can blame the Quakers for the disapointment that the Kimmel train shed provides.

3:16 AM  
Blogger mhawf said...

I think this sounds exciting for all involved for Gehry it sounds like a challenging design problem. Surely he will come up with a unique solution. While most of Frank Gehry's more recent buildings have explored similar tectonics, which is true with many architects work ie glass curtain walls, masonry etc. He gets faulted for all his buildings looking the same when really each one is unique. Anyhow it will be interesting for Philly to have a building that will have a condition that is so different, the Berlin DG Banking building has this and is remarkable. As for the Barnes there are many fabulous architects out there that could design this museum, fear not people, let the art museum have Frank Gehry. I think the Barnes is about finding the right architect that could tell a story and maintain the wonderful aspects of what the Barnes is now.

9:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raciest abondonment? I guess people can't deal with sex. ?

People, I was joking about "modern equals amazing". I was poking fun at the people on these boards who think so.

11:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about the Art Museum parking situation. However,did anyone see the Horror of a parking garage Jefferson Hospital constructed at 10th and Chestnut. Besides using cheap looking materials and a bad design, they added insult to injury by putting a bunch of vacant stores squarely in front, directly on Chestnut - about 10 in all - no takers yet. The design on this parking box looks like it should have been next to the Old JFK stadium or behind a runway at PHL Airport. Jefferson... Thanks for injecting a cancerous tumor into the heart of Philadelphia.

10:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Philadelphia gets to wave the avant-garde flag without having to look at it!"

nicely put.

weren't we planning to bury Ando Tadao's building too?

10:00 AM  

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