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Thread: InterActiveCorp HQ - 555 West 18th Street @ West Street - by Frank Gehry

  1. #421

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    Curbed
    November 29, 2006

    Gehry's IAC HQ: Still Flipped, Don't Panic

    by Lockhart



    A Curbed reader emails, "Someone should get a picture of the IAC at night. The building looks 10x better at night when the frit disappears and you can truly see the shape of the building." Intrepid photoblogger Joe Schumacher has us covered—check his gallery of IAC night shots, including the one above that confirms the building is still, despite recent efforts, flipped out.

    Meantime, Page Six reports on a supposed oddity of the building; namely, a bullet-proof bunker built for IAC head honcho Barry Diller. Not true, says Diller: "I am more vulnerably attackable in the bathroom than everyone else is at their desks. Not that I particularly want to advertise that." Word on the street has IAC move-in to the new digs set for Q1 2007, bizspeak for early next year.

    · IAC HQ at Night [WATPA?]
    · Never Panics [Page Six]

    Copyright © 2006 Curbed
    Last edited by BigMac; November 29th, 2006 at 02:16 PM.

  2. #422
    Crabby airline hostess - stache's Avatar
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    Not true, says Diller: "I am more vulnerably attackable in the bathroom than everyone else is at their desks. Not that I particularly want to advertise that.

    The lady doth protest too much!

  3. #423

    Default Wired on InterActiveCorp

    This month's Wired magazine has an informative article on the complexities of building some of New York City's new buildings. They focus on Gehry and InterActiveCorp, but the article features pics and diagrams of One Bryant Park, 7WTC, and Foster's Heast Tower as well. Good reading for those interested in curtain walls, and balancing the architect's vision with something economical, green and pleasant to occupants.

    ----------

    THE NEW HEADQUARTERS FOR Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp stick up from the low-rise terrain of Manhattan's West Chelsea neighborhood like Space Mountain at Disneyland. The 10-story asymmetrical protuberance has outer walls that veer every which way, a typical design for architect Frank Gehry. But the building's showstopper is a facade that looks like sails billowed by the wind. Gehry, famous for his complex compositions in titanium and stainless steel, had never before designed a major building in glass, and he was shocked to learn how difficult it would be to soften and mold the material around the contours of the building. Each of the 2,541 pieces of glass would have to be heated to 1,148 degrees Fahrenheit, then cooled and shaped. It was physically possible, but the sheer size of the project made it seem inconceivable. "We didn't think we could do it," Gehry says. "We were going to abandon it."

    Take a look at a major city skyline. Buildings have become more complicated, like engineering riddles that seem to defy both physics and common sense. For leading architects, every commission is an invention, an intricate one-of-a-kind experiment. Gehry, of course, is the leader of the starchitects, conjuring from his computers shapes so modern and complex they're practically baroque. But Gehry and his fellow designers don't actually build what they dream up – that's not their job. They rely on a new breed of contractor, the kind that can translate an architect's lofty vision into a physical structure. For the InterActive HQ, Gehry turned to a longtime collaborator, the Connecticut-based branch of Permasteelisa, the Italian curtain-wall couturier. The firm has spent nearly a decade figuring out how to fabricate the sort of brainteaser building "envelopes" that have made Gehry a household name. Permasteelisa has quietly erected the facades of some of the most significant buildings in the US, from Thom Mayne's Federal Building in San Francisco to Yoshio Taniguchi's MoMA in Manhattan. Permasteelisa also engineered towers for Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Norman Foster, and the new partnership of Cook+Fox. "They've become the go-to people when you have a difficult job," says architect Richard Cook, for whom the company is fabricating the shell of One Bryant Park, a conspicuously asymmetrical 55-story tower in Manhattan. "We can be thinking whatever we want, but if you can't build it, what's the point?"

    Much has been written about how Gehry conjures complex shapes from his computer, or how Mayne relies on data processors to create exteriors that ripple and shimmer in response to fresh air and daylight. But little has been said about how these digital models become buildings or about the surprising ingenuity of the teams of engineers and craftsmen more technically adept than the architects whose designs they execute. Companies like Permasteelisa must figure out how to mass-produce custom high-end architectural components – the only way to turn fantastical renderings into structures that developers can afford to finance. And because no part of a project is more crucial to an architect's reputation than the curtain wall – the glass, metal, or masonry skin that is the public face of a building – the specialized contractors who fabricate and hang the material can make or break an architect's career. Where other contractors are quick to push back on the feasibility of an architect's design, the engineers at Permasteelisa rarely say it can't be done.

    For the InterActiveCorp building, Alberto De Gobbi, a 44-year-old civil engineer and the president of Permasteelisa's US operation, started with a simple principle: Glass bends – a lot – before it breaks. "We said, 'Why don't we take the natural, physical capability of the glass and see how much we can push it?'" He demonstrates by holding up a sheet of paper with his left hand and gently pushing one of its corners with his right. In the end, Permasteelisa gave each 14-foot panel of glass a 4-inch curve. That may not sound significant, but it was enough to achieve the startling effect Gehry had in mind. "This is the first time in the world that this has been done to such an extreme," De Gobbi says.

    Permasteelisa learned an early lesson about dealing with complexity from Gehry himself. In 1992, the not-yet-famous architect designed a 260-ton steel-mesh fish for the Barcelona Olympics. Gehry recalls Permasteelisa's founder, Massimo Colomban, saying, "I can't do it. I can't get it. I can't build it." The architect advised him to invest in a 3-D modeling technology developed for aircraft design. Columban bought the $100,000 software and the outsize workstation needed to run it. "Two weeks later," Gehry says, "Massimo called me and said, 'Perfetto!'" With the software, the company's engineers could finally draw up Gehry's ideas, something they couldn't do with traditional 2-D CAD drawings. Later, they carried out the architect's designs by hiring about a dozen mountain climbers to weave 90,000 feet of gold-hued metal onto the 135-foot-high fish-shaped frame.

    Since then, Permasteelisa has collaborated with Gehry on a dozen projects. Currently, the firm is working with him on both the InterActiveCorp headquarters and a 75-story hospital-school-condo tower, known as the Beekman, planned for lower Manhattan. A few years ago, the firm hung the gleaming stainless steel skin that covers the Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Before that, it helped Gehry build the cafeteria at the New York headquarters of Wired's parent company, Condé Nast.

    Permasteelisa succeeds by breaking hugely complicated projects into more parts, not fewer. Then, even a topological nightmare like the Disney Concert Hall becomes manageable. "We broke it down into elements," De Gobbi says. "We're talking about 700,000 parts. The stainless steel sheets were pretty easy to fabricate once you had the design of each individual piece."
    A stroll through the firm's 300,000-square-foot factory in Windsor, Connecticut – strategically located midway between New York and Boston – is an education in the prefab nature of skyscraper construction. It's a full-on assembly line for making one-off buildings. Thousands of "units" – the sophisticated assemblages of glass, coatings, and sealants surrounded by a crust of precisely extruded and trimmed metal – are shipped to building sites, where they're pieced together into huge exteriors. But something more interesting is out back. Test sections of recognizable facades line the property: There's the Hearst Tower, 7 World Trade Center, and a chunk of the new Louis Vuitton store. ("We dress the building; we do haute couture," De Gobbi says.) It's like visiting the New York set on a Hollywood back lot – except instead of creating illusion, Permasteelisa builds reality.

    Karrie Jacobs (karriejacobs@earthlink.net) is the author of The Perfect $100,000 House and founding editor in chief of Dwell.

  4. #424

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    New York Sun
    December 12, 2006

    Architecture

    Sailing With Frank Gehry

    By JAMES GARDNER


    Frank Gehry's new building on 18th Street and Eleventh Avenue. Your mind keeps telling you that the Sails is a great and important building, writes James Gardner, but your eye refuses to co-operate.

    There are those who will assure you that the arrival of Frank Gehry's office building, at 18th Street and Eleventh Avenue, signals that New York City has finally come into its own as a center of architecture, if not of culture in general. For such critics, the absence, until now, of a large-scale project by Mr. Gehry (or by Rem Koolhaas, for that matter) has been a standing reproach to Gotham, proof that we lacked the cultural sophistication of Chicago, Paris, and Los Angeles.

    But when New Yorkers finally see this work up close the result is likely to be a kind of aesthetic dissonance. After all, your mind keeps telling you that the Sails (as the building is called because of the swelling undulations of its pale façade) is a great and important building, but your eye refuses to co-operate. Once you admit into the realms of possibility, however, that the building might just be a mess, you may find that those mists of perplexity dissipate ever so slightly.

    Like most of Mr. Gehry's work, this latest example, the headquarters of Barry Diller's InterActiveCorp (IAC), is in the Deconstructivist style. Surely no one likes the term or would ever dream of applying it to himself, but it serves the purpose of distinguishing its many proponents from the historicists and the neomodernists, practitioners of the two other ruling architectural idioms of the day. It has been the one notable achievement of this style, more than any other, to exploit formal variety and asymmetry. The result has been a wealth of ever changing vantage points that have few parallels in the largely modular and symmetrical architecture of the past.

    In the case of the IAC, however, it requires more good will than I can muster to find an angle from which the building truly works. Even the Guggenheim at Bilbao, for all its faults, manages to rise with a surge of grandiose semicoherence along the banks of the city's river, at least when viewed head-on. Its fault lies rather in its details, structural ineptitudes, and the tendency of Mr. Gehry and his architectural contemporaries to favor stunt over function. Invoking an almost obtuse conceptual simplicity, this 10-story building rises as a setback over a five-story base. Five bays ripple across the base along Eleventh Avenue and three across the setback.

    Mainly white due to its fritted windows, the building becomes dark, almost black at the points in each window where the frits at the floor and ceiling vanish around the center to stunt form over function.

    At the IAC, however, Bilbao's coherence is never achieved. Recently I viewed it under crisp blue skies that served as an ideal backdrop to this bonewhite building. But the clumsiness of the structure's three main sides was apparent, whether seen from uptown, downtown or dead-on at the other side of the West Side Highway. The best I could do for the pile was to acknowledge that, from the north, the billowing bays along Eleventh Avenue stacked up in a moderately interesting way. I have also seen at least one image in which a photographer has skillfully framed his picture so as to tease a hint of grace, even poetry from the roof.

    But it must be wondered after all if the building is worth the effort. Doubtless its very clumsiness was in part intentional. There has always been a whiff of ruckus rodeo to Mr. Gehry's architecture, a sort of awe-shucks, all-American populism that proudly rejects the sheer symmetries and austere high-mindedness of European Modernism. An analogy would be the goofy figurative turn that Phillip Guston's paintings famously took around 1970. And yet, here as elsewhere, we must remind ourselves that simply because there is a coincidence of intention and result does not necessarily validate a cultural artifact.

    Whoever came up with the moniker, the Sails, surely intended to invoke, not only the maritime associations of the nearby Hudson and the linenlike undulations of the pale façade, but also the purity, the simplicity of a ship at sea. Nevertheless, the name sorts ill with the clearly debased, almost abject and cartoonish quality of the building.

    From a practical point of view as well, the building falls short. On my most recent visit to the site, one of the windows of its towering curtain-wall had shattered. I learned from the security detail that a truck-tire had burst a few feet away and this was the result. If a building's façade literally falls to pieces in the face of so miniscule an adversity, one dreads to speculate what the place will look like in 10 years.

    And call me old-fashioned, but I have always felt that buildings should have doors. You know: entrance ways or, at the very least, exits. In the present building, these are almost nowhere to be found, and when at last they are discovered loitering along the side streets, they seem so timid and self-effacing that they might as well not be there at all. Surely the suppression of doorways is a sign of Mr. Gehry's striving yet again for the defiant antiheroism evident in the very massing of the building overall. There is an ostentatious refusal to accentuate —as any other architect would have done — the center of the building at its main orientation along Eleventh Avenue.

    The best that can be said for the new IAC is that it proves, as do the three Richard Meier buildings half a mile south along the Hudson, that New York generally and the Far West Side specifically, have developed a taste for self-conscious acts of architecture. Whether that makes the Sails any better than the unpretentious contextualism of the buildings at Trump Place, two and a half miles north, I leave my readers to adjudicate.

    jgardner@nysun.com

    © 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

  5. #425
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigMac View Post

    Sailing With Frank Gehry

    ... when New Yorkers finally see this work up close the result is likely to be a kind of aesthetic dissonance.

    ... Its fault lies rather in its details ...

    From a practical point of view as well, the building falls short.

    ... And call me old-fashioned, but I have always felt that buildings should have doors. You know: entrance ways or, at the very least, exits. In the present building, these are almost nowhere to be found, and when at last they are discovered loitering along the side streets, they seem so timid and self-effacing that they might as well not be there at all. Surely the suppression of doorways is a sign of Mr. Gehry's striving yet again for the defiant antiheroism evident in the very massing of the building overall. There is an ostentatious refusal to accentuate —as any other architect would have done — the center of the building at its main orientation along Eleventh Avenue.
    Some pics from 12.11.06 of Gehry's "timid and self-effacing" doors at IAC ...

    18th Street entryway:



    Along the West Side Hiway:



    Along 19th Street:



    The entry to underground parking at the east side of the building on 19th:






  6. #426

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    Curbed
    December 12, 2006

    Shattered Dreams at Gehry's IAC Building



    Breaking—glass! BlogChelsea reports: "It’s impossible to tell if this is deliberate vandalism, a construction accident or merely a rock being flung up from 11th Avenue traffic, but there is some damage to Frank Gehry’s first New York building. The damage, at the corner of 18th Street and 11th Avenues, is partially taped up."

    This breakage happens on the same morn that Sun architectural critic says of the building, set to become the headquarters of Barry Diller's IAC conglomerate, "Your mind keeps telling you that the Sails (as the building is called because of the swelling undulations of its pale façade) is a great and important building, but your eye refuses to co-operate." Pleasant symmetry, that.

    · New Gehry Building Has Holes [BlogChelsea]

    Copyright © 2006 Curbed

  7. #427

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    For the InterActiveCorp building, Alberto De Gobbi, a 44-year-old civil engineer and the president of Permasteelisa's US operation, started with a simple principle: Glass bends – a lot – before it breaks. "We said, 'Why don't we take the natural, physical capability of the glass and see how much we can push it?'" He demonstrates by holding up a sheet of paper with his left hand and gently pushing one of its corners with his right. In the end, Permasteelisa gave each 14-foot panel of glass a 4-inch curve. That may not sound significant, but it was enough to achieve the startling effect Gehry had in mind. "This is the first time in the world that this has been done to such an extreme," De Gobbi says.
    The internal tension may be high enough that an otherwise harmless rap or blow to the glass might trigger failure. ...just a thought.

  8. #428
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Some pics from yesterday of the street IAC street-level lobby through the fritted windows ...

    From W. 19th near West Street:



    From W. 18th Street:



    From W. 19th Street:


  9. #429

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    Those doors are unresolved issues. He never really figured out how to put a door in an inclined surface like this. The present "solution" will doubtless be supplanted in time.

  10. #430

    Default building looks pretty darn good in the end

    It's one of Gehry's best buildings, because it's not random, and it gets its strength from a simple gesture. A very clear parti. Not random crap piled up like most of Gehry's abortions. This is solid.

    Looks especially good now that the scaffolding is down. I think it looks better heading South than heading North. Something to do with the way the forms at the base stick out and catch the light.

  11. #431

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    Everything above the first floor is superb. Even though the glass is too contrast-y, the form holds true.

    Unfortunately, I don't have anything good to say about the ground floor. Given the location, I guess it wasn't a great concern.

  12. #432

    Arrow Crackle glass

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonik View Post
    The internal tension may be high enough that an otherwise harmless rap or blow to the glass might trigger failure. ...just a thought.
    Good point, I would guess the same. Recently, there has been more glass cracking: what is odd is that some of the new glass panels are not 'stress bent' - just standard flat panes of glass. Some good coverage on this news over at Curbed.

    More CRACK coverage ......... different project - same topic. The cinematic coverage on this 'crack' is not to be missed. I think it even has a sound track.
    Last edited by infoshare; January 8th, 2007 at 09:15 PM. Reason: add pics

  13. #433
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Despite today's report from curbed (where sometimes they seem to thrive on reporting last month's news) those cracks are the exact same ones that were first seen a couple of months ago.

    Not NEW cracks. New pictures of old cracks.

    And take the "comments" posted at curbed with a big grain of salt ...

  14. #434

    Talking Retraction

    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1 View Post
    Despite today's report from curbed (where sometimes they seem to thrive on reporting last month's news) those cracks are the exact same ones that were first seen a couple of months ago.
    And I thought they were crack-reporters on NYC Real Estate news....sorry, could not resist that one..
    Last edited by infoshare; January 8th, 2007 at 10:54 PM. Reason: typo

  15. #435

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by finnman69 View Post
    I think it looks better heading South than heading North. Something to do with the way the forms at the base stick out and catch the light.
    That it does.


    No excuse for this.

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