Topic for Debate
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I find Gehry's works full of inspiration and wonder, he is one of the idealistic deconstructivist. Well, on the other hand, my friends and also some professors think he is rather a destructivist, and that his buildings are visually disturbing; we usually debate and sometimes even fight over this matter. What do you all think of Gehry? A deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Mukta Kulkarni
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I say... don't be disoriented by your profs.

Our modern education system is largely based on classical and modernist theories set forth by their gurus such as Mies, Gropius, FLW and so on.

I have done quite a bit of study and have realised that deconstruction is a completely different approach to architectural design where form and function are two mutually exclusive variables, which is unlike the common approach to design. The style tries to break the purity of pure geometrical form in order to produce a deliberate deviation from the conventional mould.

The term destructivist is being used due to the rigidity towards design exhibited by your profs.

They must understand that a whole new approach is also available in design, and they should be ready to accept it. Deconstruction is what I suppose the future of architecture, cos of increasing computerisation of the field, use of fuzzy and AI (artificial intelligence), which are in turn redefining our understanding of aesthetics of a built form.
Abhay R. Ambati
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?

I beg to differ with you about Gehry's work. I am not very fluent with all the theories of deconstructivism but from what I know, I certainly dont feel that he is the ideal deconstructivist or a deconstructivist at all. On the other hand, calling him a destructivist may also be heavy handed where most opponents of deconstructivism interpret its visual expression as destruction. Let me give you an analogy which may assert my point further:


Moving on, my view of Gehry's work is a mixed reaction. On one hand, Gehry has mastered the use of complex geometries, curves and other forms through customizing softwares for architecture such as CATIA (originally developed for the aerospace industry), he has not however, achieved the same level of sophistication in the construction process of his buildings. I have been witness to the construction process of one of his latest buildings here on the MIT campus (Stata Center) and am disturbed about the rudimentary construction process to achieve the complexity in form. Although most of the building is composed of components specially fabricated by CAD/CAM processes, the amount of material, structure etc. seems far more in excess (both monetarily and in volume) than what most normal buildings demand. My contention is not that his buildings are disturbing, on the contrary they are very stimulating visually; but, the issue seems more of a disconnect in innovation between design process and construction (not production!) I am also not sure that this is what the deconstructivist's theoritical positions is. On a theoritical level, I think Gehry's architecture is pre modernist althought debatable. At the risk of offending those who like Gehry's work, I find his forms close to ornamentation on a building. If you observe the excess in structure which is clad by titanium/aluminium sheets one wonders what the purpose of these forms are except for visual enjoyment much like ornamentation.

No doubt that Gehry is one of the master builders today, the intention of my response is to merely add subjectivity in interpreting his work.
Anubhav Gupta
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Thanks for sharing your views.

Abhay, I think u have got me wrong, we been lucky to have a very good, and understanding team of faculty here. Yeah, they don't agree with Gehry's work but that does not mean they don't understand deconstruction, they do and very well. It's just that Gehry isn't among their favourites, they prefer rather admire and are fond of other decon guru's like Peter Eisenman and Zaha Hadid. And we do have some good and healthy discussions.

Anyway, I would like to hear more from you. Well, for Anubhav, it was nice to hear your point of view.

For construction as you said you know better as you have witnessed one of the construction processes. But, I don't think Gehry uses too much of ornamentation on his buildinds. I do agree some of his projects have exaggerated facades like that of Chiat day (the big binoculars).

What I like about him is his power of imagination and his courage to concrete it to reality.

Which gives his buildings a totally new and UNIQUE look, an identity (good or bad is again subjective) there is some strange beauty in his works. Well, that's in my opinion!!!!
Mukta Kulkarni
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?

Just to clarify, when I used the word ornamentation, it was not to say that Gehry uses it on his buildings, rather, I compared the complexity of form in his buildings to ornamentation on a metaphorical level in comparison with the excess structure underneath.
Anubhav Gupta
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Hey guys.............

Well, the question regarding whether FOG is a deconstructivist or not is questionable I guess, he himself protests that he isn't, but looking at his work it does have elements of the deconstruction movement and one would visualy identify with this. Shapes folding on each other and the fact that the buildings look like they are breaking down... Perhaps we shouldn't get to hung up on words and terms?

My personal view is that he is able to create an amazing visual interest in his buildings that just inspires and motivates so many to design, now isn't that amazing, so rather than merely questioning the fact of whether his work is deconstructivist or not because we could relate many elements back to the deconstrucivist theories of Derrida and the like, but rather say that the interest factor in his work is unbelievable!!
Jarrad Nelson
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Thanks for your response Jarrad. No one is denying the interest factor in the work of Gehry - on the contrary, in true architectural tradition of trying to analyse everything to the bone, we are merely subjecting it to identifiable theoritical positions that might have been used to generate his 'interesting' work - Deconstructivsim in this case. I myself dont see him as a deconstructivist as he rightly protests. As you rightly put too, his expression suffers from the visual association of many of his contemporaries work in the decon movement.
Anubhav Gupta
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Mukta, I'm not sure you've had the chance to experience Gehry's buildings in person but I have seen quite a few, in Los Angeles, Paris, Boston, Princeton, Irvine among other places.

Before I had seen his two most recent projects, I had the following criticism of his work; that it is all about the facade. You see, you would experience this amazing curved structure on the exterior, yet when you walked inside, it would not be there; it would be a traditional square room. In the buildings I had visited, I rarely saw a piece of that wonderful curved facades exposed on the exterior.

When I saw one of his working models on display for the Stata Center at MIT, I understood why this may be so. Here was a bunch of wood blocks piled up on top of eachother to provide a massing (and to outline the requirements of the program) and then, there was wire mesh wrapped around these blocks to clad the facade. In many of his buildings, this cladding is so weak; you see chipped corners (in brick and stone panels) exposing the empty space behind. So he basically adds a wall onto a perfectly good wall; which, as Anubhav suggested, is about excess, if nothing else. He does not, like some other deconstructivists, seek to design a wall that is both ornament AND structure.

When I experienced his recently completed Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and his Stata Center in Boston, however, I discovered something new in Gehry's architecture. For me, these buildings were not about the facade. They were not sculptures to be admired from a distance. They were designed as a series of promenades. They were like landscapes more than buildings with their topography, plantings and many routes to choose from at any given point... With the Concert Hall, you can climb to different terraces at different parts of the building, and the paths to get to any one place is not a straight line; Gehry makes you walk in curved lines and circles, hides your view of what's to come and then displays it at an opportunite moment...

Just like Corbusier, I thought, when he designed his Villa Savoy to be one large promenade with photographic views.

Perhaps, then, Gehry is nothing more than a modernist?

Ozgur Basak Alkan
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Yes, the architecture of Gehry is modernist. Deconstruction is a process to understand inner flows of design, destruction is a process to reconsruct and reshape, modernism and post-mordenism has various inner flows of design to be enjoyed. Gehry's work has a contemporary idiom of expression.
Dushyant Nathwani
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
One of Gehry's earliest works, the house he renovated and added to for himself and his wife, is a good example of deconstruction. Looking at the traditional, single-family, home, questioning it's assumptions. He then alters it, adding and removing elements. His design works as a comment on the earlier house. Revealing the underlying and hidden ways it has been built. A truly deconstructivist method. Studs and such, which are normally unacknowledged.

Some of his later works can feel this way, but not as much. The way that windows float in their shiny sea on the facade of his new MIT building... this questions the window in some way, why is it not curvey? Are windows additive or subtractive? To call attention to such commonplace and assumed aspects of the world around us, this seems in line with the spirit of Derrida and Foucault.

See, although there isn't an interior shot. compares it to more literally deconstructive Matta-Clark

Joy Knoblauch
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?

I have been reading some of your comments regarding Gehry. I was fascinated so much by the forms he is creating. WOW. Exactly this is what you say or hear when you see his building?

But the questions are : Is it really nice? How long will the WOW last ?
What is his methodology and process in Design?

Is his structurally rational ?

To be honest, I think that the good architect is the one who adds new additional properties to the building.
Unfortunately, Gehry used so classical construction techniques. The forms you are seeing are all fake, there is a huge additional main structure to hold the surfaces. The cladding is all with different sizes, which makes it incredibly expensive.

He is good in creating complex structures, but the smartness in solving that complexity, but not faking it.
I would wish that we have a deep vision in what each architect is doing. There are some bits which are nice and others bad.

You would rather spend some time studying how engineers changes the architectural design, such as Ted Happold, ARUP, Frei Otto, Fuller and others.
Jalal El-Ali
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I've just read those texts and here is my opinion:

Can anybody define FOG work as modernist or deconstructivist?

I think deconstruction does not have any defined boundries so we cannot define FOG's work as decon or not? Le Corbusier had some projects which can't be defined so anybody can find decon elements from any architecture developed so far.

This phenomena is also a part of deconstruction which we can say some way derailed communication. Brutal and ornamented forms both show decon behaviours, it is just a matter how people adopt architecture their way.

The letter I and my thinking is the major conflict to define architecture.
Nauman Pervaiz
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
EXACTLY!!!! Frank Gehry is a deconstructivist far from destructivist.

When we speak of DECONSTRUCTIVISM, actually it seem to mean - dismantled, fractured dissasmblages, with no visual logic, and etc... and these can be seen in the works of Frank Gehry. This is why some people may think that his buildings were kind of disturbing pieces. But actually, his works were built in a way what deconstructivism is all about. Deconstructivism is too different from destruction. I think some people misinterpreted Frank Gehry's work. His creations just merely and exactly fit the true meaning of deconstructivism.
Jee Rose Calderon
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I'm an Italian architect and a newbie on this site. When I read the name Gehry, I put my hand on my gun... My studies and my culture can't admit deconstructivism (talking about architecture) because it's like throwing away Vitruvius, Brunelleschi, Alberti, Palladio, Schinkel, Loos... just to name some of the architectural gods. I have to study much more about constructivism to waste my time watching that car crash built in Bilbao... Architecture is a serious discipline, not a joke for night club magicians. Sorry, but it's just my personal opinion about Gehry and the deconstructivists.
Gino Delledonne
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I am a student of art, and I would just like to iterate that the creation of such a work as Gehry's is no "night-club magic-trick" feat. The complex distribution of weight, structural complexity, and fragmented composition requires a deeply serious and refined understanding of architecture far beyond the understanding held by architects such as Adolf Loos. For example: Loos, although developmental in his own right, still retains a large level of -generally- simple four-sided-box-style architecture which comes across as rather dull (steiner house for example).
I would ask it of anyone who views the guggenheim or the EMP as a monstrosity to consider from a technical point of view, and consider how they think such works could be conjurable, not just in the mind... but conjurable in real life.

To add to that, you may be interested to know that although far from being classic/gothic architecture... you'd be surprised to find the amount of influence in the design, and form of Gehry's works that is derived from classic architects. These are techniques that were disregarded by such architects that the previous sender iterated as gods of architecture (hence sacred to the art) when making use of the box-shape format.

>> This is a post from Garlic Bread Boy <<
Alex Black
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
To make my message more relevant to the topic: I believe Gehry to be a deconstructivist in form, but here's the interesting part of my theory: He begins with the creation of a very constructivist design, and then distorts portions of the design along polar vectors, causing an eventual fragmentation of the work. Therefore he can use the original concept and get an indication of the physical rationalities caused by the warped structural alignment and can base the integrity of the alignment on that rationalisation.
Alex Black
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
I find this a hot topic to discuss. It is controversial and imaginative. On the one hand architecture is about order of space, form, orientation, clarity, etc. and that is how we experince architecture. What Gehry makes is that he interprets these vocabulary in a rather not orderly manner. The result is a contradictory statement of logic. When I went to his aerospace museum in L.A back in late eighties there was little to empress the visitor. But his Guggenheim Museum at Bilbao in Spain is a truly a work of art. This is probably due to the titanium sheets that envelop the building and give it an extraterrestrial image. It is a building out of this world. Had the building been covered with some other material, it would loose its unique chachter. In general Gehry works must be conceived inside their physical and intellectual boundries. They are hard to fit with any urban fabric and they defy logic. That is why it is a hot topic.
Hani Alqahtani
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
You really think he interprets architecture in a distorted fashion? I think to the contrary. I think Gehry is very orderly and controlled in his construction, though the result may seem chaotic, Gehry's work (especially the Guggenheim, Bilbao) is ultimately refined and orderly. I mean - what is your interpretation of the Sydney Opera house? It looks to have been made out of a fractured arch or eggshell shape, and yet it is an iconic symbol of Architectural beauty.

I say to all - be very very glad that there are Architects like Frank Gehry that are capable of pulling off something as remarkable as The Bilbao Guggenheim. Because you don't want to be stuck with rip offs such as some architecture I endure in New Zealand. There is a structure we have here called the force entertainment centre on our central street that is everything that is wrong with the concept of Deconstructivism. Below is an image of the interior:

and the exterior:
Alex Black
Frank Gehry: Deconstructivist or a destructivist?
Gehry is neither deconstructive nor destructive. Deconstruction entails challenging existing notions and critically reinterpreting them, or finding new meanings in existing situations which have otherwise remained static. People who do not understand this end up building things like Francis showed in the earlier post. Having complex geometries, broken forms, intersecting lines etc. is NOT deconstruction. Even if one were to argue that it is, I would still consider it a very shallow meaning of deconstruction.

Why don't we challenge the established notions of functions, spaces and program? Why don't we try to metaphorically break the box -- the four walls, by understanding the finer nuances of the relationships between space and its usage? I can't think of many examples of deconstructive architecture. Maybe Parc de la Villette and Holocaust Memorial come close to exploring such ideals of deconstruction.

I think there is a limit to which deconstruction as implied by Derrida can be carried out in architecture.
Vishwanath Kashikar


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