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22 June 2017
Afternoon Sedition

Worst. Architect. Ever!

Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve

Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve

I make no bones about absolutely loathing Frank Gehry's entire opus. I can't think of anything the man has done that isn't, well, total self-indulgent, non-functional crap. How much creativity does it take to make wax models, heat them to the point of deformation, and then decree that one has created a new organic fluidity? Ok, so he uses a computer instead of wax, but the idea is the same. Gehry's curvilinear interiors have no relation to a building's structure, form, or purpose. His work is more Richard Serra, in that it's all about making people aware of space and sculpting with buildings. That's all well and good, but buildings are supposed to be attractive and functional, and his clearly fail. I don't like the melted-wax buildings of Bilbao, or the spastic twisted proposal for another Guggenheim — as if we need to lose more public space for a unsightly business — in NYC that is more reminiscent of a structure in the orgasmic throes of the Loiseaux's Controlled Demolition Inc. than of a usable structure.

Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve with Icicles

Lewis Building at Case Western Reserve with Icicles

The pantheon of Gehry abortions that lived is large, and, unfortunately, ever growing. Today I'll talk about the Case Western Reserve building with sweeping curves dumping ice water and snow on visitors, and whose non-linear hallways allowed a gunman to fight it out with SWAT teams unable to get a clear shot around curves. (Not that buildings should be designed for SWAT teams, of course.) Tomorrow I'll talk about the Disney Concert Hall, another monstrosity.

The shiny, swirling $62 million building that houses the business school at Case Western Reserve University is a marvel to behold. But it is sometimes best admired from afar.

In its first winter, snow and ice have been sliding off the long, sloping, stainless-steel roof, bombarding the sidewalk below. And in bright sun, the glint off the steel tiles is so powerful that standing next to the building is like lying on a beach with a tanning mirror.

The peculiar Peter B. Lewis Building was designed by Frank Gehry, the internationally renowned architect who also created the titanium-covered Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain.

"You might have to walk on the road to make sure you don't get hit by ice," said Adam Searl, a junior at Case Western's Weatherhead School of Management. "Maybe they should have thought about it before they had built the building. It's Cleveland. We get ice. We get snow. We get rain."

...

The university ordered barricades erected on the sidewalk to keep pedestrians away after the first big snow of the season produced something like an avalanche off the roof, said J.B. Silvers, associate dean for resource management and planning.

No one has been hurt, he said, but "I asked for the sidewalk barricades so we wouldn't have people getting snow inadvertently dumped on their heads."

CNN: Case Western takes precautions with Gehry's sloping roof

You might have to walk on the road to make sure you don't get hit by ice. Maybe they should have thought about it before they had built the building. It's Cleveland. We get ice. We get snow. We get rain.

— Adam Searl
CNN: Case Western takes precautions with Gehry's sloping roof

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