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Gehry was following in the footsteps of others

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Pardon me if I don't join with all those old Modernists in their paean of ecstatic adulation for Frank Gehry (AJ 19.10.00). You quote Marco Goldschmied as saying that Gehry 'caused architecture to break out of its '60s straightjacket of rectilinear boxes'.

Well, that should be news to post-war practitioners such as Wright, Scharoun, Saarinen, Utzon, Nervi, Tange, Otto, Candela, Michelucci, Doshi, Goff, Van Eyck. . . need I go on?

David Rock feels that Gehry's building's are 'unencumbered by traditional thinking', presumably like those same rectilinear boxes, not the organic tradition of Wright etc. I do not think the fashionable Decon style sprang fully-formed from the mind of Gehry, surely he adopted it from others and glamorised it?

Goldschmied opines that 'the curve is now no more expensive than the line'. But in what respect; to draw, to build? Looking at the progress pictures of the Imperial War Museum - North in the same issue by that other genius of Decon, Daniel Libeskind, there seem to be a lot of straight steelframed armatures onto which cladding is fixed to simulate homogeneous organic form.Such detailing is fraught with problems long term; isn't Bilbao cracking up already? This is architecture as stage sculpture, which it ain't.Even modern sculpture is built to weather and last. I don't begrudge Mr Gehry his gong, good luck to him. But genius? Give me Nicholas Grimshaw any day.

Sheila Mullon, London SW4

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