While it's been widely known for at least a decade that Frank Gehry is the world's worst living architect, it's not entirely clear why some people—mostly very rich clients—haven't picked up on this yet. The utterly god awful and ridiculous Biomuseo in Panama, an eco-discovery centre that cost at least £35 million and took a decade to construct, is only the most recent case in point.
Gehry long ago stopped pursuing any interesting material or tectonic experimentation to become the multi-billion pound equivalent of a Salvador Dalì poster tacked to the wall in a stoned Uni student's digs; an 'isn't-it-trippy' pile of pseudo-psychedelic crap that everyone but billionaire urban developers can see through right away. What's particularly frustrating about Gehry's career is that he's somehow meant to be cool, a kind of sci-fi architect for the Millennials, a Timothy Leary of CAD. He just isn't, though.
His work is badly constructed, a C.C. DeVille guitar solo that cannot—will not—end until the billionaire clients who keep paying for this shit can be stopped. Worse, no matter how much diagrammatic handwaving someone like architectural theorist extraordinaire Peter Eisenman can do—and he can do an awful lot of it—to convince you that Gehry is, or was once long ago, onto something interesting, these buildings are not even compelling from a theoretical standpoint. So, yeah, he used software normally found in airplane design—great. That's awesome. I can imagine amazing things coming out of such an irreverent mixing of design tools.
But the results are just crumpled kitchen foil on an otherwise white-bread interior, a boring, room-by-room grid surrounded by hairspray, blown up to the size of a city block and frozen mid-stroke.
The Experience Music Project in Seattle; via Wikipedia
Gehry has already built the worst new residential building in New York City of the past five years with his effort 8 Spruce Street, and now he's on his way to ruin part of downtown Berlin with a faux-golden Accessorize trinket you'd expect to find in a 1980s roller-disco.
But it's no use. We're stuck with this guy for what feels like forever. It's like being forced to watch M. Night Shyamalan films when you were hoping for David Cronenberg, or being stuck in a room with Steve Vai when you thought you were listening to Andrés Segovia.
No doubt, in a city council out there right now, some doe-eyed general manager is shaking up a can of silly string and preparing to degrade an entire neighbourhood near you with the pink slime of another Frank Gehry, a man for whom architecture is all McNuggets, all the time.
The tech world might have Moore's Law, but architecture has found its own unbreakable rule: year after year, Frank Gehry will always get worse.
Lead photo © Victoria Murillo / istmophoto.com, courtesy of Biomuseo.