Friday, December 10, 2010

Frank Gehry, Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street

Who is Frank O Gehry?  What’s up with this guy and his organically shaped Beekman Tower just south of City Hall or the sweeping curves of the IAC Headquarters Building in Chelsea?  Does he just take a piece of paper, crumble it up, stand it on end and say “there it is”?

Frank Gehry, the white haired, Colombo like, star architect was born Frank Owen Goldberg in Toronto, Ontario in 1929.  In 1947 he moved to California and studied architecture at USC.  He married his first wife Anita Snyder in 1952 who suggested he change his name to Gehry.  In 1962 he established his practice in Los Angeles, California.  The 81 year old Gehry is the recipient of numerous architectural awards including the Pritzker Prize for Architecture and the AIA Gold Metal.  Arguably his most famous work is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.  Gehry’s style is often considered Deconstructivism.  The Deconstructivism style of architecture manipulates a buildings structure and skin creating a sculptural, non-rectilinear form.  It tends to be contrary to the ideas of Postmodernism in which architecture used ornament, color, and decoration on a grand scale while adapting past architectural styles.
So, that brings us to the interestingly shaped Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street in Manhattan.  Here Gehry’s deconstructivist ideas are apparent as no two floors plans are ever the same.  The building twists as it climbs 76 stories thereby creating the tallest residential rental tower on the New York City skyline.  Also signature of the architect is its shinny skin.  Often Gehry uses titanium to wrap his buildings but the material proved to be too delicate for the window washing practices in Manhattan and so stainless steel was integrated into the design.  Upon completion the tower will have a five story brick base which will house a 630 student public school, offices for doctors and retail space. From there the twisting stainless steel clad reinforced concrete tower will rise housing 903 rental apartments consisting of studio, one, two and three bedrooms.
For further insight into Mr. Gehry and his works I suggest having a look at the documentary by Sydney Pollack titled “Sketches of Frank Gehry”.

Darren China, R.A. is the principal of Studio China Architecture + Design.
Contact him at or 201-575-5180
Visit Studio China Architecture + Design’s website at:
© Copyright 2010 Darren China. All rights reserved

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