Maggie's Centre, Dundee

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Maggie's Centre, Dundee

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Sep 08, 2003 4:29 pm

Frank Gehry's first British building is complete. It's not what you'd expect.

Take an average 1970s hospital in an average provincial British city: big, concrete, sprawling, impersonal, set on the edge of town. Then ask one of the world's leading architects to add a tiny new building to the complex. Will anyone notice? They will if the architect is Frank Gehry, author of the Bilbao Guggenheim and the new Disney concert hall in Los Angeles. It happens that Gehry's first British building is a little cancer support centre at a hospital in Dundee.

http://www.hughpearman.com/articles5/gehry.html
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Sep 09, 2003 6:02 pm

Okay, I'll be the first to beat the sacred cow.....




I don't like the building Mr Gehry....



... its true, I'm sorry for breaking the faith, but it is a bungalow with a crinkly tinfoil roof, its like rural ireland with a dash of bilbao....
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Postby Andrew Duffy » Wed Sep 10, 2003 9:33 am

"Working with models rather than drawings as he always does, bending card and folding paper"

...is presumably why all of his buildings look the same. He's like Calatrava in that respect, trotting out the same (boring) signature over and over for ever increasing fees to cities that merely want to boast of having a building/bridge by him.
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Postby alan d » Wed Sep 10, 2003 9:49 am

"World famous architect, gives his time for free to build a centre for people with cancer and for the love of a friend" It's a great story, consequently it's been well covered in the press here. There will be a film made with Harrison Ford as Gehry, soon no doubt about it

Opinion though on the building is very divided. Architects and anyone who has lifted a six b pencil to make a mark on a peice of paper think it is inept in planning and clumsy. It has a folding roof which represents the pleats in a shawl or kilt. "Keech in a kilt" is how I've heard it described or "sh**e in a shawl".

On the whole though architects have kept quite, thinking I suppose it would be like laughing at a bloke with a wooded leg because of the purpose of the building.

Critics though, love it. Niomi Stungo wrote a glorious peice about it in the RIBA Journal and of course Hugh Pearman thinks well of it.

Me I think it is patronising. I'm 46 have lived in Scotland all my life and have never seen a broch. It does not in my opinion make use of a spectacular site.
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Postby shadow » Wed Sep 10, 2003 10:41 am

It just confirms the lack of any coherent criticism in the world. Competitions are becoming akin to fashion shows and the position of the critic is more about ingratuiating oneself into a clique rather than an indepndance of thought.

That most recent fashion position "Sustainability" is rapidly being overtaken by "Art" (everything goes). The moral position of keeping to one's own voice means, perhaps, dropping out of the mainstream. If you don't do inaccurate, flashy photomontage mood pictures or translucent cgi images (also unreal) you are not at the races.

I think that like the emperors new clothes. People would rather praise than be seen to be ingnorant in questioning these qestionable positions.

The architectural magazines of the 1960's are filled with "award" winning, (and competition winning) projects that are embarrasements today.

The best praise for any architecture is if it is loved and protected by the people who occupy it or experience it.
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Postby alan d » Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:03 am

With the late completion of the Parliament, it may well be Scotland's first serious contender for the Stirling Prize next year. Would not be surprised

Funny thing also about sustainability. This years Civic Trust Award submission asks that a statement about how the how the building will be used after it's current lifetime is completed. Which is bizarre.

Imaging telling you client that you have designed his hotel so that it can become a hospital in fifty years
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Postby Hugh » Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:15 am

Have you been to see it, Alan?
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Postby alan d » Wed Sep 10, 2003 11:27 am

I've not been inside, yet but I know the site well and the location.

Once I get the chance and if it wonderful , you can be sure I'll say it, Hugh and lead the charge
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Postby Hugh » Wed Sep 10, 2003 12:44 pm

Thought not.
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Postby alan d » Wed Sep 10, 2003 1:32 pm

I've never had leprosy either Hugh but I know I would'nt like it.

You're right though and I'll wait until the 26th September before passing any further judgement, my thoughts however are mild in comparison to the views of my peers, you must know this.

If the building is superb then I'll say, believe me and make sure my views are known.
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Postby alan d » Wed Sep 10, 2003 1:53 pm

http://www.edinburgharchitecture.co.uk/franksite2.jpg

There is a road at the bottom of this hill, from which to view the building and scenery beyond

http://www.edinburgharchitecture.co.uk/franksite3.jpg
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Postby MG » Mon Sep 15, 2003 6:17 pm

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Postby alan d » Tue Sep 16, 2003 9:40 am

This seems to me to be the most valid contribution made about the project and the most honest. The building is not outsatnding, had it not been by Gehry it would not have been covered by the press in the way that it has . The beauty is in the idea of the centre, not the quality of the architecture.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Sep 16, 2003 12:01 pm

And may none of us ever have to see the interior of such centres....
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Postby Shark » Fri Sep 19, 2003 10:48 am

does anyone know whether ghery has been involved in anymore discussion regarding a granton guggenheim?
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Sep 23, 2003 10:33 am

Jonathan Glancey visits a pioneering new cancer care centre to see how far environment can improve patients' health

http://www.guardian.co.uk/health/story/0,3605,1047636,00.html
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Postby alan d » Tue Sep 23, 2003 3:59 pm

.......hard to be critical of a building or judgmental about an architect, when you read this.
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Postby alan d » Tue Sep 23, 2003 4:50 pm

http://www.sundayherald.com/36807

Still.............magnificent?
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can anyone help

Postby Allan Summers » Fri Nov 14, 2003 2:41 pm

Hello everyone' i am currently in my 4th year at university and as part of a facilities management module have been asked to comment from a facilities perspective on any problems that may arise from such things as design, materials used, construction methods etc in regard to Frank Gehrys Maggies Centre in Dundee. Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
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Postby FIN » Wed Dec 03, 2003 1:27 pm

to be honest i like it. the crinkly tin roof is suprisingly quite cute. I studied in dundee and the city needed something. there has been some improvements since i left but it's a god awful town. and as alan said hard to critise it after reading the article about maggie.
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Postby BTH » Sat Dec 06, 2003 4:07 am

Bit harsh on Dundee there FIN don't you think!! I'm back in the city at the minute trying to finish off my degree and I'm actually quite enjoying it much to my surprise! Its definitely a city that's pulling itself up slowly but surely, trying to make the best of the hand it's been dealt through truly horrific "planning" back in the 60's.

It's city centre isn't a dead loss, despite the dumbell effect of the two main shopping centres (How long before the Wellgate is demolished and rebuilt, dragging everything back across town from the new- and strangely difficult to totally detest- Overgate... ). And the pedestrian environment on the streets is pretty well handled also, probably among the best city centre pedestrianisation schemes around (despite some of the more twee lampost designs and the terrible Desperate Dan sculpture!!).

What Dundee really has though is its site... A south facing slope, a backdrop of volcanic hills, a vast shimmering expanse of water to look out onto. It also has great light and truly spectacular sunsets (especially viewed from the Architecture department at the Uni incidentally!). Gehry's building does take advantage of these important features, and notably he personally selected the site, succeeding getting a helipad moved so his vision could take shape.

But the building itself appears as a series of gestures bearing no relationship to anything, whether the programme for the building or the site itself. The small scale is unforgiving, the roof detailing impossibly fussy and quite unsettling (bad vibes from all those downward pointing V shapes?) where it may look dramatic and exciting on a much much larger scale. And even worse, the interiors are dreadfully bland - curves that look great on plan becoming amorphous spaces in ubiquitous cream... Compare to the richness, detail and stimulation in both previous Maggies Centres - in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

And to top it all now Dundee is trying to woo Gehry back to design an "iconic" building for its new docklands area. Unfortunately a great opportunity appears to be being squandered to reimagine Dundee city centre. Great ideas, such as reinstating old docks and waterfronts (which were reclaimed in the 60's then left as wasteland surrounding new roads) are being buried under "masterplan" exercises in which the only ambition seems to be to attract a brand of inoffensive business park architecture to form a new waterfront quarter to the city. By singling out an "Icon" and trying to get someone like Gehry to create it the planners are effectively washing their hands of the rest of the scheme, settling for blandness as the "grain" and offering yet more in the way of meaningless gestures as "The Architecture".

Anyway, enough of that rant! Dundees not a bad place! And it does have one spectacularly good building already in the form of Richard Murphy's Dundee Contemporary Arts - seems to be a building a lot of more sniffy, purist types love to hate but as an environment to visit, use or work in its a joy - completely in tune with it's surroundings. It even provides a window in just the right place for those working at the reception desk / ticket office (I have been one of those!) to see the sunset every evening! Give me that any day over Gehry's crinkly tin...
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Postby BTH » Sat Dec 06, 2003 4:15 am

And of course the above was a purely cold hearted architectural reaction to Maggies Centre Dundee! Just read the article above again and it's made me feel a bit guilty about being so harsh... Whats not in doubt is that Gehry put a lot of love and effort into the design in the memory of a good friend and deserves all due credit. It'd be interesting to know however if he himself is satisfied with the finished product...
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Postby FIN » Mon Dec 08, 2003 11:31 am

new docklands??? where abouts...well obviously by the docks but i would presume around the bus station.
i never took to richard murphy's building. it was very good and all that but i never personally took to it. exposed services in a bar!!
ahhh! views of the tay! from the front office of the architectural building. have they put any windows in the studio yet? i personally liked the painting of the sun! really cheerful when there was a ft of snow outside.
abertay's library was also a very cute building. that was finished when i was there. it's architect was also 1 of our tutors too. interesting guy.
but anyway. i never got to see the new shopping centre so can't comment on that but i do remember the state of the rest of the city. the ballymun style flats at the top of polepark road. as u rightly said mistakes from the 60's. but at lest ballymun had the sense to knock them. i may have been a bit harsh as i hade some good times there but in general the city should be knocked and start again. and i actually agree with the city council. let gehry do another one. hopefully biger this time.
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Postby BTH » Mon Dec 08, 2003 5:11 pm

Well FIN, the plan is actually to demolish all the crap that was built around the end of the Tay Bridge, including the Olympia, the city council tower block and all of the flyovers and slip roads up to the bridge, rationalising the roads, reducing from the big dual carriageways (the volume of traffic dosent justify them apparently!) to proper city "streets" and also to excavate one of the old docks that was filled in in the process to provide a direct link from the old city centre back down to the water... The rest of the land would become a new city quarter stretching from the railway station right across to the City Quay area which has already been developed up with a new outlet mall and a quite interesting hotel, built in a sort of cut-price Swiss asthetic! Its all very admirable but I'm afraid that the architectural ambition dosent stretch quite so far, with some of the illustrations to promote the scheme looking bland beyond belief! However I think the last thing thats needed is yet another crumpled tin can from Mr Gehry littering yet another city... Maybe just a personal prejudice but also a bit of a reaction to this idea that architecture is a commodity to be collected like ornaments on a shelf, the idea that a place needs a Gehry or a Liebskind or a Hadid in order to be successful (although in fairness it would be quite intriguing to see what Hadid would make of Dundee!).
On the DCA front, strange how peoples tastes differ eh! I'm personally very fond of the exposed servces in the bar..! Pity about the cinemas though - Brick walls, concrete ceiling, Steel beams... Not the best acoustic environment for watching films! However it seems big changes are afoot with the cinema element which is so successful that they are considering moving out and building a purpose built 5 screen "art house" cinema on a site nearby... Could be very interesting and another opportunity for a decent piece of architecture!
The fact is that Dundee has changed hugely over the past 5 years, becoming in that time the premier centre in Britain for Biomedical research (it's predicted that the university will have developed actual cures for a number of different kinds of cancer in the near future) and other high tech businesses. The two universities are booming, both having major plans for expansion and renovation of their respective campuses. More importantly there have been major advances in halting social decline in the area and areas like that you mentioned such as Polepark St or Hilltown have improved greatly. I have a few mates who actually live in refurbished tower blocks up there and they love the place!
Well anyway, I'm probably sounding like a rep for the Dundee tourist board by now, but I just felt the need to defend the place as it's clearly a city thats making a real effort to turn itself around with remarkable success. Maybe it's time you made a return visit FIN or sure maybe I could show u a few photos and bend your ear further when I get back to Galway for Christmas!!
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Postby space_invader » Mon Dec 08, 2003 6:00 pm

What d'ye call Gehry if ye scan him stonin' ootside his wee Dundee snug?

Bilbao Baggins.
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