The Los Angeles Times today has a report on what will be the first Frank Gehry designed building in New York. The famed architect had tried for decades to put his stamp on the New York architectural skyline with a number of projects such as a “61-story skyscraper that was going to be built on the site of Madison Square Garden, a hotel in Astor Place, a building in Times Square and,a grandiose plan for a new Guggenheim over the East River near Wall Street”. Mr. Gehry now sails into Manhattan at the invitation of fellow sailor Barry Diller, head of IAC/InterActiveCorp, a conglomerate of companies. The new headquarters of IAC will be along Manhattan’s West Side Highway and, in keeping with their common passion for sailing, will look like the “billowing sails of a sailboat”. For Mr. Gehry it fulfills a long sought, if unstated, desire to leave his imprimatur on the Big Apple for despite his fame all he had done thus far was the designing of the interior of a Manhattan town house and the cafeteria inside Condé Nast’s headquarters.
While the Guggenheim in Bilbao is world renowned, less well known is a hotel he built near Bibao in Rioja Alavesa. The Hotel Marques De Riscal is his first and only hotel and is part of Starwood’s luxury collection. Somewhat expectedly, it is an atypical hotel as the report notes: “No. 10 at the Marqués de Riscal was so unlike the normal hotel room that it made us slightly giddy. You enter by a long hallway. The wall panels are made of pale, raw maple that also lines the floor, bare except for a simple area rug. A king bed with a prow-like leather headboard designed by Gehry dominates the room. The architect also designed the cloud lamps on the bedside tables, made of seamed white fabric balloons, and chose the green and black marble in the bath on the far side of the room”. The hotel’s rates average $750 and are more typical of upper echelon of Manhattan hostelry. Perhaps, Mr. Gehry’s westside project with Mr. Diller will spur him to consider a second project in Manhattan – his second hotel.