Friday, December 28, 2007

Gehry Takes New York

I know everybody's already seen this, but I needed to go see it for myself.  I'm so excited that Gehry finally has something built here.  I'd been wanting to see his cafeteria at the Conde Nast Building, but you have to like be a head of state and get fingerprinted just to get in the damn door of that building.
--Photo Arcspace

So I went over to see his new building for InterActive Corp, which owns, amongst other things.

I had been sort of planning to go the day before this, which was bright and sunny, and I just never made it down there.  In the end, I'm sort of glad I saw it on a day that was so gray and overcast.  It made the whole experience of it very moody (click on the images for larger views).

I loved how through the silvery-blue skin one gets peeks of this red-orange light from the offices inside.
There's also this really cool lighting effect in the ground floor lobby, somewhat visible from out on the sidewalk.  The interior walls are all lit with LEDs that slowly change colors, traveling through the color wheel.  It's really awesome.  I went inside, but the security guard told me they were "closed early for the holidays."  I found that exceedingly irritating, because I was just one person with a camera, and there was security on duty.  I really don't see why he couldn't have just allowed me to take a quick look around.  But I wasn't going to argue with him about it.
Overall, I think it fits quite well into the fabric of the city landscape, and also on the West Side Highway.  Its sculptural forms almost recall a blurred skyline as seen from a fast moving vehicle, optically speaking.  Metaphorically, I think it brings up the idea of the city in constant movement and flux, which of course New York most certainly is.
One might also see something of the sails of ships, and while there aren't those kind of ships out on the water so much anymore, the building does sit right on the Hudson River.

That old building in the foreground is the former Roxy nightclub, may it R.I.P.  I'm not convinced I ever saw that building in the daylight LOL.  At 11PM, one was all too distracted by the crazy drag queens and club kids and bridge & tunnel crowds of people all clamoring to get inside.  In the early morning hours, when I'd be leaving all sweaty from too much dancing, I would've been walking the opposite direction.  

I wanted to get a shot of the club's front door for posterity's sake.  It holds a lot of memories for me, and what with the crazy amount of development surrounding the Highline and the fact that it's not a particularly large or glorious structure, I can imagine it probably won't be there for very much longer.  It kind of makes me sad.  I'd run out of film, though, at that point, and I was cold, so I said "forget it."  I'll most likely go back again when Jean Nouvel's building is finished around the corner.

There was another woman kind of walking the same route as I was, getting pictures of it also, so I stopped and chatted with her a little while.  She mentioned that she admired Gehry's restraint here, that although it's a relatively unusual building, it doesn't come off as gimmicky or ostentatious like Bilbao or some of his other highly sculptural work.  I thought aloud that if this building had been a museum (which in west Chelsea, it very easily could have been), that it might have been more flashy and obnoxious after all.  But being an office building, and for a corporation like IAC I think may have helped guide its final form into something more subtle.

I think it's a great work of architecture, personally, and I'm so glad we have it.

InterActive Corp Building (2007), Frank Gehry

All text and IAC Building photos ©2007, Ryan Witte

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