Frank Gehry

New York (Advertisement)



This advertisement for a recent skyscraper designed by Frank Gehry in downtown Manhattan seems to offer a perfect distillation of the way in which the contemporary global city is marketed as a plaything/investment opportunity for a mobile international elite, and highlights the role of starchitects in adding the spectacular icing to the crude real-estate cake at the core of this project. The title of course already implies that this is New York with a Gehry twist – the city itself remade, Gehry-style. Sure enough, the advert starts with the hands of the ‘genius’ drawing – his gestures evoking the rush of New York’s streets, the waves of the bay, the Statue of Liberty’s torch (Immigration! New York still wants you – for the right price), and so on, all of which find their way into the twisted surface of an otherwise bland condo/office tower whose ‘cutting edge’ cladding already looks cheap and out-of-date in its very of-the-minuteness (like so many recent ‘iconic’ towers Gehry’s seems sheathed in the imminent aesthetic obsolescence of the latest design software). Yet by the close New York has been reduced to an image on a tablet screen that can be reassuringly swiped away – an infinitely seductive distraction that can sometimes be a bit much. Hence, the building not only promises stunning ipad-like views over the city but complete god-like control over urban life, and a neat leveraged solution to the perennial real estate dilemma of the wealthy New Yorker: ‘I love the energy of the city but I need a calm place to escape from it all, a place just to be”.