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"Smackdown" with Frank Gehry

Craig Raphael
Jul 12, 2009
Dec 14, 2017

Frank Gehry brushing aside Fred Kent and his question, as moderator Tom Pritzker (responsible for the Pritzker Prize) looks on."]The popular real estate and urbanism blog Curbed created this image to describe the ongoing debate (Photo credit: Curbed LA)

Gehry responded first in the blog, explaining that he didn’t really want to be at the Festival and that at age 80, he gets “freaked out by petty annoyances.” He also charged that Kent (who remained unnamed in Fallows’ first two blogs and Gehry’s response) was “intent on getting himself a pulpit” and “marketing himself at everyone’s expenses.”

And Fallows himself—probably as famous in news journalism circles as Gehry is in architectural ones—seems fascinated by all the energy sparked by this question about how to create great public places.

On Friday he began his blog with a sense of amazement, “I used to think that a topic like -- oh, let's see, US-China friction -- was controversial, or climate change, or Google-v-Microsoft, or McNamara-v-Rumsfeld. That was before I innocently stepped into the crossfire concerning the effect of "star-chitects" like Frank Gehry on the urban landscape.”

Whatever else comes out of this lively discussion, I think it shows that discussions about how we create congenial public places where people can come together is a major issue of our times.

Public space is not just an aesthetic detail, or minor sideshow for the design community.  It’s central to the fabric of lives and future of our society.  Which is why it’s no surprise that opinions on the subject are so strong.

The public space on the waterfront of Bilbao in front of Gehry's building is a site of frequent muggings as a result of the limited reasons for people to be there.

Related:

PPS Commentary--Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Curbed LA--Frank Gehry Smackdown: Iconic Architecture vs. Public Space

Apsen Ideas Festival--Full Video of Gehry Talk (Kent/Gehry conversation at approx. 54 minute mark)

Craig Raphael
Craig Raphael
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