Gehry in winter.

Via City Comforts, Urbanist provides evidence of what I have suspected might be true: Frank Gehry has been living in LA for too long.

The Frank Ghery-designed [sic] “BP Bridge” at Millennium Park in Chicago has been closed due to snow. The bridge, which connects the park with the eastern section of Grant Park, is made of a Brazilian hardwood that could be damaged by applying the ubiquitous salt that is used in Chicago to prevent pedestrian slippage.
One would think that an architect of Ghery’s [sic] skill would recognize the climatological particularities of Chicago and the ways in which Chicagoans negotiate with the harsh winter climate.

Earlier this week, I had reason to think the same thing. As I walked from the Building 68 food trucks back through 32 the other day, I noticed that the main entrances to the building are rather treacherous in the wintertime. Though there is an extensive series of pipes and gutters to disperse rainwater, little consideration seems to have been made for the collection and slippage of snow on the roof. The main vestibules on Vassar Street are topped by pleated sheets of corrugated metal arranged in such a way as to literally dump snow right in front of the doors. Judging by the volume of snow that had accumulated on the vestibule roof, and the tendency of snow in Boston to get rather icy and dangerous, I decided that I would not want to be entering the building at the moment gravity overcame friction and the snow came sliding down in an avalanche. There were already small flat piles in front of several of the doors, and, due to the height of the eaves and the flatness of the mounds, it looked like it would hurt if you got caught under there at the wrong instant.
Rodin had mentioned a similar concern about Gehry’s ability to design for weather when the building first opened: the sheer quantity of irregular angles and flat rooftops and strange intersections of materials gave him reason to believe that there would be a lot of leaks come springtime. Having seen the snow on the skylights this week, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these suspicions proved true. Of course, I’m no architect, and aesthetically I think I like the Stata Center (well, on the inside), but I am concerned at this apparent lack of consideration for the extremes of New England weather.
Not everyone wants to live in the desert. Or, rather, the irrigated desert.


4 thoughts on “Gehry in winter.

  1. I could be wrong, but it appeared that after construction,
    the gutters and drainpipes on those diagonal roof surfaces
    were dramatically upgraded. But the size of the gutters is
    still inadequate for heavy rainfall, and the pipes are
    insufficiently pitched to get fast drainage. Winterwise, I
    am convinced that one day a car entering the garage will be
    destroyed by a sheet of ice.

  2. Things do constantly slip through the cracks. We’re talking about the gap between reality and perfection here. The size of the gap varies, certainly, and sometimes there’s enough of a difference between what a project is and what it should be that it can only indicate incompetence. Usually it just indicates that the work was done by humans.
    Getting everything right is damned hard.

  3. Gehry has problems even in LA. Parts of the exterior wall at the new Disney center have had to be swaddled in fabric because the reflective metal has caused heat and light problems for neighbors. If you can’t plan for the sun in LA, you’re really out of touch with reality.

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