Frank Gehry's first building in New York City, the IAC headquarters, pioneers a new neighborhood, eliciting positive and negative reactions
Architects & Firms
New York City
With its ethereal, milky-white skin and faceted curves, Frank Gehry’s IAC Building stands out against the heavy, industrial structures surrounding it on the western fringe of Manhattan’s rapidly evolving Chelsea neighborhood. Even as its context changes in the next few years with the conversion of an abandoned elevated rail (the High Line) into a 1.5-mile-long public park and the addition of apartment towers by Jean Nouvel, Shigeru Ban, Neil Denari, Winka Dubbeldam, Annabelle Seldorf, Robert A.M. Stern, and others, the IAC will remain unique in both its architectural expression and its function as a corporate office builidng. Its status as a Greta Garbo kind of building, however, highlights the project’s weaknesses as well as its strengths.
While no one hires Gehry to design a quiet, background building, Barry Diller, the chairman and C.E.O. of IAC/InterActiveCorp, envisioned his new headquarters as a catalyst for transforming a part of town he has long championed. An early and generous supporter of the High Line, Diller—along with his wife, fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, whose new headquarters is just a few blocks south—prides himself on being an urban pioneer. So you might expect the IAC to reach out and engage its neighbors more directly than it does. As Gehry proved with his Disney Concert Hall—where a truly public lobby and a series of outdoor gardens invite everyone to spend time—standing out doesn’t have to mean standing apart.
As a piece of architectural sculpture, the building conjures a range of imagery—from the billowing sails of a boat to a beached iceberg. By wrapping the structure’s listing concrete frame with a fritted-glass curtain wall that has no exterior mullions, Gehry emphasizes the purely formal aspects of the building and underscores its role as an object inserted in the landscape. But this object has no base to sit on, so you get the impression it could be lifted up and taken away as easily as it was placed here.
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit
Todd DeGarmo, AIA – Principal in Charge
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