Monday, December 05, 2005

housing and stuff

Due to the location of my new job, I spend a lot of time looking at Frank Gehry's architecture. It's distinctive if not moving. Now, according to New York magazine, because of Gehry's latest projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn - including the proposed Atlantic Yards - New York's architectural snooze is over.

But how can we be a city of glamorous cutting-edge architecture without finally getting our own Frank Gehry building or two or—hell, sure, why not—nineteen? The first, under construction on the West Side Highway in Chelsea, is a nine-story headquarters for Barry Diller’s InterActiveCorp. It’s a new Gehry iteration; instead of an exploded giant tin can, it will be boxier, more traditionally building-esque, with townhouse-size modules and wedding-cake setbacks wrapped in translucent textured glass. “We’re gonna do more things behind there, too,” Gehry says, suggesting a future Gehryfication of Tenth Avenue. “Housing and stuff.”

And next spring, construction should begin on the first Gehry skyscraper on the planet, a 74-story apartment tower (plus hospital and school) just south of the Brooklyn Bridge. Given the string of abortive New York projects he’s been through (like the doomed ground-zero theater center), he doesn’t want to publish his design for Beekman Tower “until they’re sure they’re going to build.” But he showed me the renderings. For a Gehry building, it’s conservative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing—a classic Manhattan skyscraper with several setbacks. But for a Manhattan high-rise it’s radical, since it will likely be clad in titanium—creased and wrinkled as if it’s a few yards of draped fabric rather than a dozen acres of metal.