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...