? of the Day: Do You Like the Peter B. Lewis Building (Weatherhead School of Management at Case) by Frank Gehry?

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Tue, 05/02/2006 - 12:22.

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I am always surprised when I hear that someone does not like the architecture of Frank Gehry. I will concede the Peter B. Lewis Building may not be the most practical of buildings, but isn't that the point? Gehry's architecture sends the perfect message to the business school, the university and NEO: don't fit in, take risks, do thinks differently.

Gehry's buildings have received some harsh criticism recently. Read the following article in Architecture Magazine:

A Not So Shining Moment for Frank Gehry

By Anna Holtzman

MARCH 08, 2005 --
March has certainly come in like a lion for superstar architect Frank O. Gehry—and an ill-tempered lion at that. First came a report from the Cambridge Chronicle surveying its readers on what they thought were the ugliest buildings in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gehry's Stata Center for computer science (2004) at MIT won the dubious distinction of being top of the list, second only to Steven Holl's Simmons Hall (2002) at MIT. (Apparently, the university has its finger on the pulse of what makes its neighbors want to turn away in horror.)

Then, hitting closer to home for the Santa Monica-based architect, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has determined that Gehry's local jewel, the Disney Concert Hall, is shining just a little bit too brightly. To tone it down a notch, construction workers will be sanding 4,200 square feet of polished steel panels that cover part of the complex.

The decision was made after neighbors' complaints of excessive glare and resulting heat prompted the county to commission a glare consultant to investigate the problem. The consultant found that the shimmering panels of polished steel atop the building's Founders Room and its Edna Disney California Arts Theater (REDCAT) are casting focused beams of reflected light that produce temperatures of 140 degrees on the adjacent sidewalk—enough to cause sunburn, melt plastic cones, and interfere with drivers' vision. (The rest of the building is clad in a duller brushed steel, which does not produce enough glare to warrant sanding.)

The modifications will come at a cost of roughly $110,000, out of which $90,000 will be supplied by the Los Angeles Music Center, which inhabits the concert hall, for the work on the Founders Room. Another $15,000 to $20,000 will come from REDCAT for the work on its marquee.

The call for modifications comes only 18 months after the $274 million project's completion. The changes are preceded by alterations made to Gehry's 2002 building for the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland due to ice and snow that was crashing dangerously off the structure's curved, stainless-steel roof.

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I love the Gehry - it's so Gaudi

Last spring I took a group of glass artists from Canada touring around Cleveland and we went to the top of the Garfield Memorial for the view - the first thing the artists said was "Oh you have a Gehry". On top of the global attention that brings, I think it is a great pocket building and interesting in context - the little neighborhood anchored by the Gehry, CIA, Hessler, Dively, Case A&S, Arabica, the Glidden, Barking Spider, the diner and several other top flight restaurants and all has a nice intimate, urban feel and the Gehry fits in. In fact, back in the REI days the gehry was a hub of entrepreneurial activity that really connected together the region, and that was the perfect setting - I was sorry to see Case kill REI and that community use of this fantastic building (and it works very well as a building).

It doesn't overpwoer - yet is unique. My experiences with the Gehry remind me of a time walking in Barcelona and wondering if there was anything by Gaudi near-by, and then realizing the Casa Mila apartment building was right next to me, organic and alive - one of Gaudi's masterpieces - nothing but an apartment building stuck in a street corner yet one of the world's great architectural mastpieces, and that is perfect. So is the Gehry in Cleveland. Lucky us.

I have seen the building.....

I would like to answer this, but I can not.  It is not that I WILL not answer but I can not.  I have never been inside it.  I have taken pictures of the outside curious as to what the inside looks like.  I understand that at one time not to long ago the building was used to hold community events, however it no longer is.  Maybe someone could post some pictures of the inside ?

Roundtable at the Gehry Building on vision for NEO

Okay, I have an idea. I know we can arrange a roundtable at the Gehry and Sarah Taylor can provide a tour. We'll talk abut the vision developing for the future of NEO featuring University Circle, University East (in East Cleveland), and University Central (in the Flats) - see NEO MultiDATA for the overall concept and related links...

yes a roundtable

Please let us know when and where the roundtable will happen. Active minds are first. Access to power is next. Do you have that Norm? Let's make sure the power aspect is invited to participate.

Until the Roundtable ...

I took a tour of the building shortly after it opened and that's what sold me -- the inside -- its the most organic interior space I have ever expereinced. Photos really can't do it justice, but I will post this so you don't have to wait until the next Roundtable.


... I believe I owe you coffee anyway -- I would be happy to give you a tour of the building! I'm out of town this coming week, but please give me a call anytime after May 15 and we'll set it up. 216-368-4642.

what I don't like/ do like

I don't like the loading dock situated on the Ford Road "front" of the building. Call me classist, whatever. I don't like the name on the building. I find it crass. Sort of chicken ranchy. The cafe is tacky, too, in my humble opinion. (Lewis said Case and other institutions should “collaborate to develop restaurants, movie theaters, poolhouses, whorehouses and bars in the University Circle neighborhood.”) Maybe he is trying to model the behavior, but I rarely see people in there doing what you do in a cafe.

I was disturbed to hear that Case has to build scaffolding to change lightbulbs. I hope they are using long life bulbs.

I do like that we have this cool wavy shiny stuff visible from many vantage points. I do like the bending swaying windows and brick walls. I do like the lobby. I like the wood walls and the staircase. I don't care for cement floors anywhere.

I don't like that there is no art of significance (at least when I was there-- there were some digital pics of flowers or something). We could have great art that could inspire those management students. Tell me they have commissioned Hildur Jonsson or Matthew Kolodziej or Thomas Frontini or someone to put up some art. The flags are nice, but art is better.

I don't like that the building is closed off to the public, but there was that shooting. I do wonder why that building is targeted though since you can walk into most other buildings on campus. Hmmmm....

OK I'm a snob -- an opinionated snob.

Lewis says he's not a Bandaid guy, but I do hope he'll throw down to help make MOCA's new building a real stunner.

How to make the Lewis better... Sarah?

I agree with your comments, and it seems the problems are "management controllable". Easiest thing is to add art (there's an art school next door).

So the building is cool but it isn't used well. That seems to be the story of Case these days, and I hear it is going to get bloodier around there. Part of that problem is the Business School and Case aren't used well as part of the community, and UCI is not a well integrated part of the community, and Case students don't integrate well with the artificial non-community of UCI or Weatherhead or throughout NEO in general - hard to blame any of that on the bulding, which I've seen work great. Much needs to change around Case and UCI and will.

In the short term, in addition to adding art from CIA (and the Putnam Collection, for that matter), Case could open up the door from the street to the cafe and they could add patio seating on the sidewalk there and in the park next door - they can open the doors and encourage classes to meet outside - and invite the world in all day and night 365.

Sarah Taylor is the big promoter of better understanding of this building so we need to get her input... Sarah...?

here's an idea for weatherhead

Swallow your pride and beg Ed Morrison to come back and resume REI. Get down on your knees if necessary. Model the behavior and bury the hatchet. What was once a hotbed of economic and workforce development and revolutionary innovation in environmental remediation strategies is now an iceberg -- true to it's cool (and I don't mean hip) exterior. The only inquiry (appreciative or otherwise) going on there from the public's standpoint is why is this building closed off to us?

For a school of management, they don't seem to be managing their human factors too well. Maybe they need to consult with MSASS and sign up for counseling or collaborate on the human factors engineering aspects of their program with an engineer.

There could be no one thing more important to heal the wounds of the past than to open the café to the street and invite the public to interact with the building and its inhabitants. Great idea Norm.

Those management students are going to mange in the world -- not in a vacuum. Let the world in. Take off the bandage and let the wound breathe the fresh and the putrid air of the surrounding neighborhood. Let the critical thinking flow.

Ed is helping virtually - here's my proposal for Case

All over NEO and on REALNEO Ed is helping push the new economy forward, even as he seems to spend lots of time working elsewhere. His focus is global - Case pushed him on to bigger and better things, and Case can learn from him and leverage him further. He would be very powerful to facilitate visioning on Case, and that's easy to enable.

I think a group of Case stakeholders, including Ed, me, you... should take the open source, bottom-up approach to Case redevelopment and get serious about structuring dialog and inclusion with the Board. Peter is working on setting that up at the board level, and Evelyn, Sudhir and Charles will help at the student, staff and alumni levels - Sandy Piderit and Sarah Taylor have deep faculty relations - in fact, there are scores of key Case stakeholders who are already very active in the REALNEO communty - so we're going to set up a private REALNEO just for stakeholders interested to work with the Board of Case planning the institution's future. Indicate if you are interested by commenting here or emailing Evelyn Kiefer at evelyn [dot] kiefer [at] gmail [dot] com

BTW - here's a link to my proposal for restructuring Case... what are your thoughts?

My thoughts

I have a hard time with  the amount of money that was spend on just one building.  For the money that was spent there should have been a complete campus.  Ok.... maybe half a campus.