both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have articles out about Frank Gehry’s latest creation in New York City at 8 Spruce Street. For a time known as “Beakman Tower”, 8 Spruce Street consists of a brick-clad base and a stainless steel “fabric” rising into the air to a height of 867 feet, making it the tallest residential tower in NYC – passing even the Trump World Tower.
for me, personally, this seems to be a very conservative design for Gehry. when asked “how did you come up with the design” by WSJ, Gehry had this to say:
Frank Gehry: I walked the streets a lot and looked at what was built in the past. I was looking for what the essence of New York was. Step-backs are a distinguishing feature of New York skyscrapers.
So I decided to work with that. I also saw a lot of modernist mistakes like putting glass at the corner of towers. It sort of weakens the form of the building. In the best buildings the corners are solid. There’s a strength to that.
WSJ: Many of your best known projects are almost sculptures themselves that house museums or performing arts halls. How does your design of this one reflect its residential use?
FG: Since it was a residential tower, I wanted to do something that there aren’t many of in New York, which is have apartments with bay windows. If you walk to a normal facade, you can push your nose against the window and you can see in either direction a little bit.
If it’s a bay window, you feel like you’re walking into space.
But if you have a bay window at the same place in the floor plan in every floor you get a vertical projection that’s lined up all the way to the top, which would have been a harsh move. I wanted to soften that like a fabric.
WSJ: Is that why you selected the look and texture of the facade?
FG: I’ve been fascinated with the studies of fabric by great artists through time—like Michelangelo, Leonardo. Apparently in their spare time they always drew fabric. You find a lot of those drawings in their archives.
I probably rationalize this but there’s probably a primate sense that when you’re in your mother’s arms as a baby: the folds in their clothes become very intimately associated with comfort and warmth. So those folds are functional.
I love how starchitects rationalize and define their designs. it’s certainly what we’re still taught in design school. I remember sitting in on critiques laughing at my own presentations and the way we were expected to define and defend nearly every aspect of our designs.
with that said, this is still an amazing addition to the NYC skyline. it’s just too bad none of us lowly peasants can afford the rent.