If you’re wondering when architects will get the respect they deserve, the answer may be: never. By some measures, Frank Gehry, 85, is having a good year, with several large projects about to open and others in the pipeline. But nothing comes easy. After 10 years of work on the performing-arts center at the World Trade Center site, Gehry learned—though not from the client—that he might lose the commission. A few weeks later, Congress weighed in on his design for the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial on the National Mall; Rep. Aaron Schock called it a “theme park without a coherent theme.” And in London, he was attacked for seeming to ignore the need for affordable housing when his design for residential buildings at London's Battersea Power Station site was unveiled.
First the good news: both Gehry’s Biomuseo in Panama and his Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation in Paris are scheduled to open this year. Projects in the works include the Facebook West campus in California’s Silicon Valley (in February, the company moved into the offices he designed in New York City); a visual arts center in Arles, France; and five large apartment towers at Battersea. (After Rafael Viñoly’s role in the mixed-use project was reduced from architect to master planner, the developer asked Gehry and Norman Foster to design buildings for its 42 acres.)