Frank Gehry designs slated for demolition

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Frank Gehry designs slated for demolition

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:17 pm

Name is not enough
Frank Gehry designs slated for demolition Critics say buildings worth preserving

LOS ANGELES—Frank Gehry is one of the world's revered architects, but that may not be enough to save two of his creations from the wrecking ball.

One building targeted for likely demolition is the Santa Monica Place shopping mall; the other is a blockish, stucco structure on the University of California, Irvine campus.

Some architecture critics are troubled by the planned destruction of buildings designed by the now-celebrated architect.

"I think it's much too early to start tearing down many Frank Gehry buildings," said Alan Hess, author of nine books about 20th-century architecture.

Others aren't so concerned.

Jeremy Roth, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student, stood in front of the 19-year-old Gehry building on the UC Irvine campus.

"Does this look like an architectural masterpiece to you?" he said. "It's all rusted, the paint's all messed up. It's an ugly little building."

Meanwhile, many Santa Monica residents never embraced the 25-year-old enclosed mall, saying it didn't mesh with the city's outdoor beach aesthetic. A developer wants to replace it with a large commercial and residential complex, but some in the community oppose those plans.

At UC, Irvine officials want to tear down the 17,800-square-foot Gehry building and another structure nearby because the roofs leak, the ventilation systems are failing and the structures have dry rot. They'll be replaced by a 150,000 square-foot building.

The UC Board of Regents will review the $47 million (U.S.) state-funded replacement building proposal this month. But preservationists and architecture scholars are urging UC Irvine officials to reconsider.

"It is embarrassing to me as a UC professor that a UC campus would consider such a move," said Thomas Hines, professor of history and architecture at UCLA. "It's not a campus with that many distinguished buildings, and this certainly is one.''
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