In Sin City, where the Eiffel Tower is a stone's throw away from Venice, New York, and Camelot, stands a haven for doctors and researchers hard at work combating neurodegenerative diseases. A far cry from your average, blocky clinical facility, the linkurl:Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health;http://my.clevelandclinic.org/brain_health/default.aspx has a distinct flare and style that seems appropriate for Las Vegas.Frank GehryImage:flickr/SmakuAnd the man behind the building's unorth
By Cristina Luiggi | August 27, 2010
In Sin City, where the Eiffel Tower is a stone's throw away from Venice, New York, and Camelot, stands a haven for doctors and researchers hard at work combating neurodegenerative diseases. A far cry from your average, blocky clinical facility, the linkurl:Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health;http://my.clevelandclinic.org/brain_health/default.aspx has a distinct flare and style that seems appropriate for Las Vegas.
Frank Gehry Image:flickr/Smaku
And the man behind the building's unorthodox silhouette is none other than legendary architect linkurl:Frank Gehry.;http://www.foga.com/ The $100 million project of rippling sheets of stainless steel and scattered white stucco cubes houses researchers and physicians dedicated to treating patients suffering from neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's, and ALS. Gehry has designed a slew of iconic buildings -- from the linkurl:Walt Disney Concert Hall;http://www.laphil.com/philpedia/wdch-overview.cfm in Los Angeles and linkurl:Millenium Park;http://www.millenniumpark.org/artandarchitecture/ in Chicago, to the linkurl:Guggenheim Museum;http://www.guggenheim.org/bilbao in Bilbao, Spain. Gehry is no stranger to the suffering brought on by neurodegenerative diseases. He is one of the founding trustees of the linkurl:Hereditary Disease Foundation,;http://www.hdfoundation.org/home.php which was founded by a longtime friend and analyst who had lost several family members to Huntington's. After Gehry lost his own daughter two years ago to uterine cancer, he set up a linkurl:fund;http://www.hdfoundation.org/bios/Brenner.php in her name to support cutting edge research in the field. Gehry took time to chat with __The Scientist__ to share some thoughts on his latest creation, which was completed on May 22.
TS: What attracted you to this project?
FG: I liked the project because it had to do with neurodegenerative diseases, and I'm involved with the linkurl:Huntington's foundation.;http://www.hdfoundation.org/home.php And so I saw a chance to work with people who are interested in the same topic and to make a building to that topic, because the research in those diseases is communal.
TS: How can architecture influence scientific endeavor?
FG: It's hard to quantify it but it's obvious that there are people that are working in spaces that are supportive of interactive working arrangements. So hopefully architecture contributes to that. I think that the scientists feel it does, but I don't know how they quantify it. I think once they see something they find it interesting. Like the building at linkurl:MIT,;http://www.eecs.mit.edu/stata-link.html which is not for medical science, it's for computer science. It has generated a lot of positive interaction. So I think it's possible for architecture to play a role. I don't think it's called upon a lot to do it. I think scientists should hopefully ask for better architecture.
TS: When designing the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, were you inspired by the diseases and patients it was intended to treat?
FG: Well, I work with the clients and they have programs, requirements for their labs and for their equipment and things like that, so we respond to that. I don't presume to be a neuroscientist, so we take our direction from them as clients and explore ways to make their lives more interesting and better through the building. We develop a project with them to suit their needs with a specific budget and a specific time and essentially at the end, when they get a building, they get a building that hopefully solves all their problems and I think we've been successful with that with Ruvo. I haven't done many labs. I did the one in linkurl:Cincinnati;http://vontz.uc.edu/architecture.cfm cancer research and I did the one in MIT for computer sciences.
TS: This was also a personal project for you. How has your life been affected by neurodegenerative diseases?
FG: I became involved with Huntington's through friends that are at risk. We've been supporting their linkurl:foundation;http://www.hdfoundation.org/home.php and their scientists. I set up a linkurl:fund;http://www.hdfoundation.org/bios/Brenner.php in my daughter's name this last year to give grants to specific scientists. I've attended some of their science meetings. I don't understand what they're talking about, but over the years I've found them stimulating -- to watch the interaction between these people as they search for something that's not readily discoverable. Some of their creative process is very familiar to my creative process. It is a similar kind of search and a kind of trying to make things better. I've never been one to make buildings that are mimics of relics of the past, because it seems counterproductive to the idea of science.
TS: What would you like your ultimate contribution to science and scientists be?
FG: Just to build nice buildings for them and hope they can find the cures.
**__Related stories:__***linkurl:Designing buildings, using biology;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53443/ [27th July 2007]*linkurl:Healing Spaces;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/55751/ [5th June 2009]*linkurl:When Science Meets Architecture, Strange Things Happen;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/9019/ [26th December 1988]
As an annual visitor to Las Vegas, I watched the construction of the Ruvo Center with amusement. How anyone can call this architecture is amazing. This brings to mind his proposed 'art' project in Pasadena, that thankfully was avoided after a monster protest.
In modern art's never-ending quest for novelty, Frank Gehry has gone one step further than Andy Warhol. Warhol famously painted pictures of tin cans. Gehry designs buildings that look like squashed tin cans, for which he is revered. \n\nThe Philadephia Museum of Art has come up with the perfect venue for a Gehry building: they're putting it underground. Philadelphians will get to live in the best of all possible worlds: they can boast of a Gehry building in their city, without ever actually having to look at it.
As Gehry said, they came in on budget and the building doesn't leak. And it will help the sane relate to what their demented relatives are going through... and where else can you go and have a slot machine in every exam room? Quit yer cryin'\n\nBaxter Zappa