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Thread: Vuitton Plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris

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    Default Vuitton Plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris

    October 3, 2006
    Vuitton Plans a Gehry-Designed Arts Center in Paris
    By ALAN RIDING


    “The idea is of a cloud made of glass”: one of Mr. Gehry’s designs.


    The architect Frank Gehry, left, and Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, at a news conference in Paris.

    PARIS, Oct. 2 — Having grown rich by selling ephemeral new looks in fashion, the French luxury goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has now opted for a more permanent place in the art world by unveiling a striking design by Frank Gehry for a glass-covered complex housing a new cultural foundation in western Paris.

    The plans, outlined at a news conference Monday, call for the building, whose cost is estimated at around $127 million, to open in late 2009 or early 2010. It will be on the northern edge of the Bois de Bologne in the popular children’s park known as the Jardin d’Acclimatation.

    Bernard Arnault, chairman of LVMH, which includes Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Givenchy among its many brands, said the institution would be known as the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation. He described it as a logical follow-up to LVMH’s extensive sponsorship of the arts. “Its aim is to underline French creativity in the world,” he said.

    He said the foundation would have a permanent collection formed from his own and LVMH’s art collections and would organize temporary exhibitions of the work of established and contemporary artists like Jean Dubuffet and Jean-Michel Basquiat or Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst. “We want to link timelessness and extreme modernity,” he said.

    Suzanne Pagé, the outgoing director of the Musée d’Art Moderne of the City of Paris, has been named the foundation’s artistic director and will take charge of developing its program over the next three years.

    With the foundation’s specific mission still uncertain, the immediate focus of attention was Mr. Gehry’s design, which, with its multifaceted deconstructed exterior, recalls his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and his Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The big difference is that the new building will be covered in glass, not titanium.

    “The project is a dream, so the idea is to create a dream,” Mr. Gehry, 77, said at a crowded news conference at LVMH’s plush headquarters on the Avenue Montaigne. “The idea is of a cloud made of glass. The French are famous for their work in glass, so that’s exciting. It’s difficult to achieve in architecture, but we’re getting there.”

    “I want everything to look like my drawings,” he went on, waving toward large reproductions of seemingly chaotic pen drawings. “The model is not quite there. We’ve built 30 or 40 models, and the design is still evolving. It’s not going to look exactly like this, so forgive me: I want the lines to look like the sketch.”

    From the outside, the present design resembles a large transparent insect crawling through the park. Solid gallery spaces can also be seen, floating almost like organs, inside the building. The complex will also have an underground auditorium and a glass-covered roof and restaurant.

    If completed, the complex may help Mr. Gehry dispel unhappy memories of his first experience of building in Paris. In the early 1990’s, he designed a new American Center here, but the center was forced to close by financial difficulties in 1996. The building remained empty and abandoned until last year, when it became the French Cinémathèque.

    Mr. Gehry’s new building may also allow Mr. Arnault to score a publicity coup against his luxury goods rival, François Pinault, the owner of Christie’s, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and three chains of department and media stores. Last spring, after five years of wrestling with red tape, Mr. Pinault abandoned plans to build a $195 million museum for his contemporary art collection outside Paris and acquired the Palazzo Grassi in Venice instead.

    Attempts by reporters to draw Mr. Arnault into commenting on Mr. Pinault’s setbacks in Paris were unsuccessful. “I think that any comparison with other initiatives is not pertinent,” he responded sharply. “I’ll leave it at that.”

    What is no secret, however, is that while Mr. Arnault heads the world’s largest luxury goods group, Mr. Pinault has a far richer contemporary-art collection, one that he has been building steadily that and numbers more than 2,500 objects, with works by all the best-known artists of the last 40 years.

    In contrast, according to Le Monde, Mr. Arnault began by buying a Monet in 1980 and has only recently turned his attention to modern and contemporary art. He has since reportedly acquired works by Yves Klein, Chris Burden, Takashi Murakami, Doug Aitken and Matthew Barney, among others. A large iron sculpture by Richard Serra also stands in the lobby of the LVMH headquarters here.

    A no less important difference between the two men is that Mr. Arnault’s museum project seems likely to be realized. On Monday he was accompanied by France’s culture minister, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and by the mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, who both enthusiastically endorsed the new Louis Vuitton Foundation as well as Mr. Gehry’s design.

    The Jardin d’Acclimatation is owned by the City of Paris, but LVMH has a 20-year concession to operate the children’s park, which continues through 2015 and gives it the option of developing the site for cultural purposes. The new complex, which will require the razing of an abandoned bowling alley, must still be approved by the Paris city council.

    Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

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    If Gehry can make his building look as evanescent as his sketch suggests, it will be his masterpiece. A great and sublime work of art will result; in that case it will supplant the overblown and overrated Pompidou Center as Paris' premier work of modern architecture. The concept is brilliant, for it's geared perfectly to Paris' misty, drizzly climate; there are times in April when the city seems to dwell entirely among clouds, both above and at ground level. I guess you could think of IAC as a rehearsal for this one, with a little Guggenheim thrown in.

    Gehry looks amazingly vigorous for his 77 years; success is written all over him.

    Bravo!

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    “We want to link timelessness and extreme modernity,”
    Indications are: mission will be accomplished.

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    I agree ablarc....bravo to him on this one.

    Now I wish Beekman would be clad in that glass....rather than the titanium.

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    This is a good Gehry building. Much better than what I've seen in the works for Atlantic Yards and Beekman.

    Pompidou Center is great building too. If you find it overblown and overrated (two description that Gehry's critics could use just as easily), you probably aren't a big fan of that style of architecture - a matter of taste. Pompidou will remain an important cultural center and an important piece of architecture nonetheless. The LV center has a good shot at becoming equally important, but not at the expense of Pompidou. Paris has room for both.

    I like the way the building seems to be wind-blown, light, and airy. I actually find the model more interesting that the rendering. The structural components are more visible in the model and add some depth to the skin. I'd prefer it to turn out that way instead of a replay of what happen with IAC with the glass almost completely hiding the structure. My one complaint is that the entrance is too obscured.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Citytect View Post
    Pompidou Center is great building too. If you find it overblown and overrated..., you probably aren't a big fan of that style of architecture - a matter of taste. Pompidou will remain an important cultural center and an important piece of architecture nonetheless.
    Actually I like the Pompidou Center, I just think lots of people overrate it --as you do when you call it "great."

    It has not much to do with style in my case; I think all styles are good if well handled. Pompidou is well handled as a large object in the city, but once you get on the escalator and explore the building it becomes both humdrum and dreary. Dreary because it hasn't aged well (it needs to be pristine to be as beautiful as it was when new; what building stays pristine?), and humdrum because the client evidently wanted neutral interiors.

    Pompidou's important all right, but maybe not great. Both Piano and Rogers have subsequently settled into the bottom of the first rank of architects.

    The structural components are more visible in the model and add some depth to the skin. I'd prefer it to turn out that way instead of a replay of what happen with IAC with the glass almost completely hiding the structure. My one complaint is that the entrance is too obscured.
    Gehry isn't about structure, he's about form and he doesn't really care how he gets to that form. IAC's structure was never meant to be seen. Some might think of it as an embarassment --maybe even Gehry-- but I can see why you might find it interesting as an objet trouve, something a little bit grotesque.

    If you weighed all of the actual structure in IAC and then you weighed the structure required to support the same square footage on the same number of floors in a functionalist rectangular configuration, you'd doubtless find that Gehry's structure weighs twice as much. Structural elegance? Hardly --at least the way an engineer understands the term. Funky? Yes.

    In the long run, it's his unconcern with structure that will keep Gehry out of the rarefied uppermost echelon of architects, where structure is form (Kahn, Eiffel, Palladio, the Parthenon, Michelangelo, LeCorbusier, some Saarinen, Ledoux, some Foster, Gothic cathedrals, Calatrava). Gehry's attitude towards structure is more like Wright's, though he doesn't pay nearly as much lip-service to it (none at all, in fact).

    .
    Last edited by ablarc; October 4th, 2006 at 04:50 PM.

  10. #10
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post

    IAC's structure was never meant to be seen.
    Not that I want to get another bet going ...

    But I'd guess that when viewed from the interior of IAC the structure (all those off-kilter concrete posts) will be very visible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Not that I want to get another bet going ...

    But I'd guess that when viewed from the interior of IAC the structure (all those off-kilter concrete posts) will be very visible.
    Yeah, but that's for the few within; it's not the building's public face. In time, there will also be messy desks, ad hoc partitions, baby pictures.

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    The Paris city council approved the project last week, clearing the path to its realization.

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    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    lucky bums.
    Makes be sad for the lost New York Guggenheim by Gehry. And neither Atlantic Yards nor Beekman look this good.

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    i for one didnt want a copy of the bilbao guggenheim in ny, original stuff only please

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