Princeton University's science majors started classes on Thursday the 11th of September but they also got a tutorial on how Frank Gehry seems to always throw up all over a site, totally disregard budgets and still wins acclaim and gratitude for it.
The $76 million dollar (and counting), 87,000 square foot project houses the University's collections for astrophysics, biology, Geo-science, chemistry, math, physics and statistics, student classrooms and lecture halls.
Taking slightly over four years from ground breaking to top-out, this building required 90,000 pounds of embossed stainless steel and 620 pounds of clay brick which were combined with glass, steel and stucco to "attempt" to reflect the design of surrounding buildings. The atrium, just inside the front door expands into a wide open space, giving the visitor views of all parts of the building with walls painted all sorts of colors from tangerine to blueberry. The group study room on the top level looks out onto the building's roofs and the rest of the campus through a prism like array of windows.
In putting up its new Gehry designed "Lewis Library," Princeton endured its share of challenges. It paid to construct models of the building to give the subcontractors a chance to practice, it fired a contractor halfway through the project when the building was already past due and recently learned that some contractors bribed their way onto the job site.
But the project has finally been completed and Princeton is very satisfied though I can't imagine why. This building looks like it was thrown together to see just how many completely different materials could be connected together without having the entire ensemble come crashing down. The concept of using glass, steel and stucco was to have the building relate with those surrounding it but when did you ever see a Gehry design blend in with its surroundings? You would have a better chance of seeing Ray Lewis participating in the cirque de soleil, than a Gehry design that didn't look like it was just dropped there from outer space.
The main questions I want to ask are, how energy efficient is this building and will it withstand the weather? I think these are very relevant questions for Mr. Gehry especially in the aftermath of his designs for the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT that leaked once the rains began.
Well, Gehry has done it again and I guess I shouldn't be whining about it. That's his trademark design and if Princeton got it then they specifically asked for it.
Images obtained from arcspace.com, chronicle.com/blogs/architecture