Project DescriptionPAST PROGRESSIVES
Text by Thomas Fisher
The University Of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum Shows How Frank Gehry’s Work Has Changed As He Added To His Own Design.
To see how the work of Frank Gehry, FAIA, has evolved, look no further than the 2011 addition to his 1993 Weisman Art Museum, the latter of which won a citation in the 1992 P/A Awards program. The original building has four brick-clad, skylit galleries standing on top of a parking garage, which are entered from a road along the Mississippi River. The galleries, store, and offices overlooking the river and adjacent bridge are wrapped in a stainless steel façade of Cubist-like shapes that recall the fractured face of the cliff below, with the hand-drawn construction documents laying out each piece of the metal skin like dressmaker’s patterns.
The addition, which Gehry’s office completed in partnership with HGA, extends the 1993 building in three directions, with new brick-clad galleries perched on two sides, and a new Target Studio for Creative Collaboration facing a widened pedestrian walkway behind an undulating cowling and beneath a flowing stainless steel canopy. The steel props holding up that canopy and cowling echo those backing up the original façade, bringing to mind the false-front movie sets of Gehry’s home of Southern California. But the new stainless steel elements demonstrate the fluidity possible with the software pioneered by Gehry’s office.
When lauding the original museum building, the awards jury admired the relationship of the animated metal façade and the boxlike brick galleries. “It’s beautiful,” said juror Wolf Prix, Hon. FAIA, “to see how a loft mutates into a mask.” That the “mask” has continued to “mutate” decades later makes this an extraordinary example of how an architect can comment on his own work.
This article first appeared as "Gehry Revisits His Museum" in April, 2013.