Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Tour of Frank Gehry Buildings in Los Angeles

On Saturday Jeff and I, both architecture fans, took a tour I created of major Frank Gehry buildings in Los Angeles. I wanted the chance to see the evolution of his work. Besides where else in the world is there such a concentration of it, no where I tell you.

I don't have the technical knowledge to explain where he fits into architectural trends, I just like his use of space, imaginative layouts, incorporation of natural light, bright colors and unconventional lines. Frank Gehry is a true pioneer.

Our tour included, in order:

  • Loyola Law School - Fritz R. Burns building on 919 Albany St. Gehry worked on this project from 1981 to 1984. The urban campus is wrapped in a barbed wire fence. It's a strange oasis in downtown Los Angeles. The campus is an experiment in modern and postmodern buildings. The bright yellow center of the law school houses classrooms and offices. The most notable features are the three external staircases. The center leads to a greenhouse and the two outer ones resemble fire escapes. Gehry's building is flanked by a glass chapel with visible wood structures inside and a one-room lecture hall with three cement pillars at the door. Even the garage has a steel facing providing a very minimalist look contributing to this very beautiful campus.
  • Disney Concert Hall - Our second stop was the Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 S Grand Ave. Gehry worked on this from 1989 to 2004. If you're in the area and stop to visit the "symphony of steel" I highly recommend the audio tour. This is the only way to get your parking validated and the opportunity to wander around the entire interior. It's worth it. Make sure that you tour the outside as well as the inside, there are beautiful gardens and a large rose sculpture created for Mrs. Disney. This building has to be my favorite. It is so whimsical. I think it's perfect for the symphony. I think the building was created by the swipes of the conductor's baton. Look at it, its possible.
  • LA Children's Museum - Our third stop, well drive by, was the Los Angeles Children's museum at 310 N Main St. It was the most boring square building I've ever seen. It was so bad we didn't even stop. We did a slow roll, snubbed our noses at it and moved onto stop number four. Interestingly enough he started building his house at the same as he was working on the museum, 1979. I think all the creative juices went to his house. Then again who knows what kind of limitations were put on him.
  • Hollywood Library - Our fourth stop was the Hollywood Regional Branch Library on 1623 Ivar Ave, built in 1982. You can tell that he is starting to push the boundaries of space. The interior is bathed in natural sunlight. This building is just steps away from Hollywood Blvd so its a great place to sitesee in. Don't forget to prep your camera for the fantastic view of the Hollywood sign when you get off the 101 North at Hollywood Blvd.
  • Gehry House - Frank Gehry's house near the corner of Washington Ave and 20th St in Santa Monica. We didn't know exactly where it was but as you travel down the street you can't help but notice it, it doesn't exactly blend in with the Spanish architecture of Santa Monica. We were stopped by a local resident wondering if the house was for sale because there were so many people stopping to take pictures. Jeff thought that Frank might actually still live there. I hope so because I can't imagine who else would want to. It's interesing to look at but it's odd. The house is surrounded by steel boundaries with peeks at the interior through fencing, glass triangles and more experiments with space.

By this time we were starting to get tired, fighting traffic, crazy LA drivers and it was so freaking hot. We were dealing with 80 degree weather, hard to believe it's November. But there were two more stops on the tour, the Chiat Day building and the Venice Beach house. We knew the pay off at the end would be worth it. I mean how much more perfect is an ending at the beach. I was hoping we would time it with the sunset.

  • Chiat Day Building - The distinctive Chiat Day Building in Venice, 340 Main St to be exact, built in 1991. The building is located around the corner from Gold's Gym and is in slight state of disrepair. Like the advertising agency housed there it has lost its luster and has seen better days. You can't enter the building or the binoculars to check out the view but they doprovide form and function. The building had to adhere to really strict city guidelines for buildings in the area - limited in height and scale.
  • The Venice Beach House - The final stop on my Frank Gehry tour of Los Angeles is the Venice Beach house at 2509 Ocean front Walk. Constructed in 1981. It looks like a lifeguard stand. There are lots of outdoor spaces to take in the amazing view of the ocean. I think I was more enamored of the Venice beach than the house built next to it.

We were about 30 minutes too early for the sunset. Maybe you'll time it better if you're in the neighborhood. Make sure you stop at C&O Trattoria. They have the best garlic rolls and at 9 p.m. the entire restaurant stops to sing That's Amore. So fun. It was a great day.

I think one of my favorite things about the day, aside from seeing all of the Gehry buildings was seeing all of Los Angeles. We went from downtown past the Broadway Theatre district to Hollywood and to Santa Monica via West LA. The are so many hidden architectural gems. Also as we were were coming off the 101 on the way to the library we got the best view of the Hollywood sign.

I have to stop and say if you're ever planning a trip or tour you must use Mapquest, which will let you put in up to ten addresses, manually order it and then provide point to point directions. It took all the guess work and frustration out of this endeavor. We didn't back track or get lost once. How amazing is that, if you've ever driven with me you'd know that's a miracle.


Lucas Trailers said...

You left out Faith Plating Company in West Hollywood. One of Mr. Gehry's ealiest buildings, from 1964....still standing on Route 66.

Anonymous said...

FYI. Frank Gehry's home is 22nd and washington.