Friday, October 1, 2010

Frank Gehry's Weisman Museum: Surprise?

"The Architecture of the Weisman Museum"
Building Surprises, University of Minnesota

"...This building is full of surprises! It makes us think about buildings in new ways. Explore the building and take a closer look inside and out. Learn how it was designed and built. Find out more about architect Frank Gehry. And have some fun along the way!..."

Oh-kay. The Lemming gets wary when so many exclamation marks show up in a lead paragraph. This time, though, the content's worth looking at.

The website is broken out into sections, like: "All about Frank Gehry, architect of the Weisman Art Museum;" "From sketch to construction, how the Weisman was made;" and "Inside and outside, the Weisman is full of surprises!" - another exclamation mark. Oh, well.

The "Making of the Weisman" page is a bit sparse - but follow the links. After a little experimentation, you'll get to more illustrations and text.

As that animated illustration shows, the building's design didn't change all that much, from the first sketches to construction.

There's even a page addressing this question: "Why would anyone design a building that some people might hate?" According to that page, the Weisman Museum's been called " 'The Tin Can Castle, The Train Wreck, or simply The Pile.' "

The Lemming can see why. To me, it looks like what happens when you drop a roll of cooking foil in the kitchen.

The results are - unique.

Well, not all that unique, actually.

The architect, Frank Gehry, seems to have made a career of making buildings that don't look like "another brick lump." He succeeded. The Weisman Museum isn't faced with brick, and isn't particularly lumpy.

After looking at the architect's work, though, a pattern emerges: Frank Gehry's buildings, the famous ones anyway, look like piled tangles of cooking foil, on a titanic scale.

Now that the Weisman is part of the Mississippi shoreline, 333 East River Road in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is another place where an artistically arranged pile says, 'Frank Gehry was here.'

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