Star architect Frank Gehry has been often critiqued for failing to come up with original ideas since his stunning debut to international fame with Spain's Bilbao Museum. Even though there as been additional landmark buildings like the Disney Hall in Los Angeles, he has struggle to find a new voice.
Gehry might have hit the nail right on the head this time with his design and building of the LVMH Museum in Paris. My guess that in time the structure will become a cultural landmark like many of the gems that now attract millions to the City of Light.
Architizer.com has featured an article by "The Angry Architect" about Gehry's challenge to bring to completion the LVMH Museum .
Frank Gehry has never been one to shy away from a challenge, but even his titanium feathers must have been ruffled by the battle he has faced in the great western park of Paris, the Bois de Boulogne.
In 2011, a vociferous neighborhood group—the snappily named “Coordination for the Protection of the Bois de Boulogne and its Surroundings”—won a court ruling that halted the construction of the LVMH Museum, set to house the Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation. The group sought to stop the project on legal technicalities, focusing on the partial obstruction of a tiny asphalt road and Gehry’s circumvention of rules governing height limits.
The ensuing argument was typically French in its passion, with a deluge of fiercely forthright views on both sides. One particularly eminent figure weighed in, telling the Journal du Dimanche that the project's opponents “show a blind and pernicious individualism that goes against the general interest. They oppose any change for the sake of it. In their tight little suits, they want to put Paris in formaldehyde. It’s quite pathetic.” Not my words, believe it or not, but those of famous French architect and good friend of Frank Gehry, a certain Mr. Jean Nouvel…
After a few spins on the legal merry-go-round—not to mention some crafty amendments to bills by the French Senate—the project got the go-ahead once more, and the museum is expected to open to the public next year. But which side of this protracted argument will be proved right? Are Parisians going to be left with a beautiful monument to art and design, or an enormous white elephant, cowering at the edge of their beloved park?
My instinct tells me that, ultimately, the French will grow to love this building, just as they have taken their time to warm to other convention-breaking icons within this proud city: see the Eiffel Tower, I.M. Pei’s Louvre Pyramid, and the infamous Pompidou Centre by Rogers and Piano. Is it attention-grabbing, flamboyant, and over-engineered? Of course: It’s by Frank. However, the use of formalistic, ostentatious gestures can surely be forgiven in this context; like the Bilbao Guggenheim, this structure is a cathedral to art, fashion, and design, and is rightly unapologetic in its celebration of this fact.