Frank Gehry Mellows Out With Wood-Paneled Theater Design

The notoriously metallic starchitect goes back to his roots with a cheap, plywood design for the Signature Theater Company. Don't worry--it still looks wild.

Gehry theater

I don't know what it is with architects and theater design these days (please, God, don't tell me something about "building-as-performance"), but I like it. Add to the pile (Herzog and de Meuron at the Met, REX/OMA in Dallas, Jean Nouvel in Copenhagen) Frank Gehry's home for the Signature Theatre Company.

 Gehry theater

The Signature was supposed to get a $700 million arts center all its own--also designed by Gehry--at ground zero, but the plan was scaled back to this: a $60 million trio of theaters, plus a lobby, in a Midtown residential high-rise designed by Miami-based Arquitectonica. The spaces are built with plywood (just like in high-school drama class). The smallest, the 190-seat "Jewel Box," is covered in Gehry's trademark, folded-paper motif. The largest, the 299-seat "End Stage," has a cracked sidewall meant to look like the desert. It's an interesting move for Gehry because it represents him giving up the expensive materials like titanium panels he's known for now and returning to the cheap-and-dirty stuff of his early days, like chain-link fence and corrugated metal. Going soft on us, Frank? Wait... that might not be a bad thing.

The curtain is expected to rise in January 2012.

Gehry theater

Gehry theater

[Via Curbed]

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