"The New Guggenheim"
I love Frank O. Gehry. Ever since I
was part of New York’s interior design scene in the
1960s when he fancifully conceived and produced his
laminated cardboard chairs, I have worshipped his
panache and daring. It didn’t matter to me that these
designs were at the time spurned by buyers, yet only ten
years later elevated to Museum of Modern Art status.
Popular or not, he has been on the top on my list of
most admired designers/architects. It is with this in
mind that I now feel compelled to write a feng shui
critique of his proposal for the "new"
Guggenheim Museum of Art in lower Manhattan.
Feng shui is about how people experience place.
Through feng shui we come to know specifically how a
place attracts us, gives us information and elevates the
human relationship to the experience. Whereas public
places like churches, government buildings and grand
palaces clearly communicate their importance over human
beings, homes invite, coddle and cocoon their
inhabitants to feel secure, protected and esteemed. In a
home, an individual’s aesthetic taste is ensconced in
privacy and individualized space is prepared to
accommodate personal needs.
A building should be in harmony with its surroundings
as well as the catalyst to promote the right
relationships between the idea of the habitat and the
people who will fill it. Gehry’s proposed structure
would be a glaring anomaly against its backdrop, the
City. It almost declares the demise of structure and of
the human memory of place and elevates deconstructionism
and laughs at form and line of structures that stay
upright, not to mention our cultural history.
The structure denies memory of place, a concept first
coined in an early architectural text. Memory of place
is necessary for us to feel comfortable in an
environment and should encompass our cultural and
psychological expectations. Gazing at this chaotic
model, one becomes confused as to its interior passages,
the relationship of floors to walls and the flow in
general. It is the antithesis of Frank Lloyd Wright’s
present Guggenheim Museum built in the form of a spiral
like the configuration of our genetic heritage, DNA,
that is imprinted in our basic biology and builds an
experience from there. Perhaps you could say Wright’s
choice is subtle, elusive and not experientially common,
but in Gehry’s proposal there is no organic reference
whatsoever. In fact, to me it referenced an imploding
Architecture is not first and foremost a tribute to
technical engineering feats and visual enigmas. Rather,
its fundamental responsibility is to elevate and
resonate with positive or important human experiences.
If architecture is the vehicle that describes the soul
of a time, then this structure instills grave concern
about our future.
Nancilee Wydra is the
most published American author on feng shui. Her last
two books are "Feng Shui Goes to the Office"
March 2000 and "Feng Shui for Children's
Spaces," November 2000. She teaches nationwide
professional certification classes (www.windwater.com)
and has a free Website
with 100 answers to the most frequently asked feng shui
She can be reached at 1-888-488-FSIA
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