For ask.com’s new HQ there was only one answer: Frank Gehry’s first New York building
After 20 years of trying and four abandoned projects, Frank Gehry has completed his first building in New York.
Located on the western riverfront of Manhattan in the former meat packing zone of west Chelsea, the building is the £50m global headquarters of internet mogul Barry Diller, whose InterActiveCorp owns search engine ask.com. Last year, the company moved its Hollywood operations into another new Gehry building on Sunset Boulevard.
The New York building reflects Diller and Gehry’s shared love of sailing by evoking the wind-whipped sails of boats making their way along the Hudson River. The effect is created by three faceted arcs of glass that swoop upwards with a slight curvature and tilt to 10 storeys. Lower down, a wider sequence of five curving sails rises to just five storeys with a continuous terrace on top.
“Its facade is very sensuous, almost feminine,” says Gehry, who in the next sentence claims to be “a very pragmatic architect”.
Unusually for a Gehry building, it is entirely clad in glass, with no sculptured titanium or stainless steel. Low-iron glass has been used to remove the normal greenish tinge and to give clearer views into and out of the building. At night, the building glows like a lantern, just as Gehry intended.
But to reduce glare and solar overheating, the upper and lower areas of glazing on each floor have been densely fritted in white enamel dots. This gives the building a layered, crystalline, translucent effect like an iceberg.
Meanwhile, across the river in Brooklyn, Gehry is planning his largest project yet – a £2bn cluster of 16 skyscrapers. No billowing sails here but a tower that looks like five crumpled buildings piled on top of each other.
Although Gehry is known across the world for his architectural jewels, here he is up against a vociferous nimbys. Among them is novelist Jonathan Lethem, who has written to Gehry deploring “such potentially disastrous results”.
Architect Gehry Partners
Executive architect Adamson Associates
Structural engineer DeSimone Consulting Engineers
Services engineer Cosentini Associates facade
Engineer Israel Berger
Main contractor Turner Construction
Development partner The Georgetown Company
For more New York developments, see this week’s Skyline supplement