GEHRY’S ICONS – great for tourists, less great for locals?

Frank Gehry's lunchbags

Frank Gehry’s lunchbags

Sydney’s big story last week was about a crane which caught fire and collapsed on a construction site at the University of Technology, Sydney, crumpling the building below it. Fortunately nobody was hurt.

UTS will soon get a building which is supposed to look as if a crane has fallen on it, when Frank Gehry comes to town.

The octogenarian designer of iconic architecture will be represented in Australia from 2014. Not everybody is pleased. The estimated cost of his ‘crumpled paper bag’ building at the University of Technology is now $180million, up from the original $150million estimate.

This comes at a time when the NSW state government is slashing $1.7billion from education spending, and funding is to be completely withdrawn from all TAFE art courses. It’s bound to be controversial.

Love them or hate them, nobody can ignore Frank Gehry buildings. Mevrouw T and I happen to be fans. We’ve recently admired his work in Dusseldorf, Bilbao and Elciego.

‘Elciego?’ I hear you ask. It’s a village in northern Spain, largely unnoticed by the outside world until the Hotel Marques de Riscal popped up there.

The hotel at Elciego. Frank has ensured it won’t go unnoticed.

Bilbao is a pleasant provincial town, but since the branch of the Guggenheim Museum opened its doors in 1997, Bilbao has been well and truly on the tourist map. The curators have assembled a collection of unmissable iconic art, Jeff Koons’ Puppy being the most famous and recognisable, but it’s Frank Gehry’s building that every visitor to Bilbao goes to see.

The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. A work of art full of other works of art.

Our introduction to Mr Gehry’s work was in Dusseldorf, where a block of apartments have become a tourist attraction.

Gehry’s apartments in Dusseldorf. He may be pleased he doesn’t have to live in them himself. It’s hard to park a wardrobe against a curving wall.

We’re looking forward to seeing the UTS building completed. It remains to be seen whether Frank Gehry’s creation will inspire its architecture students to great achievements. At 83 years young he shows no signs of going gentle into the good night, fending off his critics with pride. Keep it up, Mr Gehry!

And let’s hope there’s still enough money left over to keep the art, architecture and design courses running. They’re not just optional extras – they make life worth living. IMHO.

Frank Gehry’s design for Sydney’s University of Technology.

What do you think of Frank Gehry’s work? Is it an asset to any city or indulgence we can do without?


Filed under Architecture, Art

8 responses to “GEHRY’S ICONS – great for tourists, less great for locals?

  1. Great pictures. It sounds like a lot of money but probably well worth it eventually. I am off to Holland today – got some last minute ferry tickets for £23. Planning to visit Delft tomorrow – any recommendations?

  2. CitraGran Cibubur

    Reblogged this on CitraGran Cibubur.

  3. I used to walk by his house in Santa Monica thirty years ago, long before he became a household name. It was an interesting structure, “enhanced” with a whole lot of chain-link fence. It always conjured up images of Doberman Pincers for me. I do admire his imagination and skill at getting these things built, but I’m not sure I would want to live in a house he designed.

  4. I’m a qualified fan of Gehry’s work. I like the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the hotel in Elciego (interesting that that means “the blind man”) but the new UTS building I think is silly. Anyone could take an architectural model and crumple it. I think that even I could do it—which means it can’t be good architecture. But it is nice to see buildings that aren’t the same old Mies van der Rohe boxes.

  5. I wouldn’t appreciate the apartment building or the play-dough university in my neighbourhood but Hotel Marqués de Riscal impressed me. (More photos on my blog:

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