I really enjoyed reading Nicolai Ouroussoff’s review of Frank Gehry’s recently completed Lower East Side skyscraper, 8 Spruce Street, in the Times this morning. The writer’s ability to seamlessly situate the building’s labored-over contours and relation to New York City’s skyline within a broader conversation post-9/11 about America is admirable:
“Mr. Gehry’s design is about bringing that same sensibility — the focus on refined textures, the cultivation of a sense that something has been shaped by a human hand — to the digital age. The building’s exterior is made up of 10,500 individual steel panels, almost all of them different shapes, so that as you move around it, its shape is constantly changing. And by using the same kind of computer modeling that he used for his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, more than a decade ago, he was able to achieve this quality at a close to negligible increase in cost.
But Mr. Gehry is also making a statement. The building’s endlessly shifting surfaces are an attack against the kind of corporate standardization so evident in the buildings to the south and the conformity that it embodied. He aims, as he has throughout his career, to replace the anonymity of the assembly line with an architecture that can convey the infinite variety of urban life …
Mr. Gehry’s building … doesn’t try to dominate the skyline. Its aims (beyond the obvious commercial ones) are comparatively modest: to celebrate the joy that can come out of creative freedom and, by extension, to reassert the individual’s place within a larger social framework. His interest lies in the clashing voices that give cities their meaning; it is democratic at heart.”