Yesterday I stopped by Leslie Feely Fine Art on Manhattan's Upper East Side to check out the exhibition Frank Gehry At Work, on display until June 29. The exhibition collects about 30 process models, some for buildings that were completed, others as studies for projects never realized. Below are some of my photos and impressions.
Given the focus on Gehry "at work," the models range from messy to really messy—tape and hot glue are evident where needed to hold the metal, plastic, paper, wood, and even cloth into Gehry's distinctive forms. Easily my favorite piece is the one done in lead (below photo); even though it is undeniably Gehry, the fact it is made from one sheet of lead and is self supporting (no wood armature like the model above) brings it closer to a piece of art than the others.
Some of the models are more like presentation models than process models, such as these above and below. Yet as a close-up of the above photo reveals, globs of hot glue are still evident, as if capturing the forms in whatever means necessary is more important than craft. Another model I like seeing is a fairly well developed model of the IAC Headquarters near the High Line, accompanied by a photo of the completed building. In particular it's the entrance canopy in the lower-left corner that interests me, for I've always felt that the entrance and relationship of the building to the surrounding sidewalks is one of the weakest parts of the design (if not his whole oeuvre). But this small gesture, if realized (the entrance is on the north, or right side of the model), would have shifted the center of gravity and sidewalk presence of the building most dramatically.
Gehry's paper model for Beekman Tower (what was later named 8 Spruce Street then "New York by Gehry") is also interesting, for it shows much more variation happening from floor to floor, rather than the subtle shifts that happen at the perimeter of the completed building. Obviously this earlier iteration is much more expensive than what was built (remember, one full elevation of the tower is completely flat), but it's good to see Gehry working out what a tower could and should be.