Architect Frank Gehry

The Fondation Louis Vuitton (the Louis Vuitton Foundation) on the avenue du Mahatma Gandhi in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, newly opened in October 2014, is a private cultural centre devoted to art – painting, sculpture, art installations, architecture, music, poetry readings, and cultural events—with both permanent and temporary exhibitions. It is located at the Jardin d’Acclimatation near the Bois de Boulogne in west Paris. Architect Frank Gehry (1929-) was tasked with its design.

The two-storey design includes a central hall, glass “sails” and an outside pool, as well as a series of 11 galleries, an auditorium, café, and an interactive documentation centre. With computer technology, Gehry developed 19,000 Ductal panels and 12 sails made from 3,584 unique panels of laminated silk-screened glass, and the manufacture of the Glulam beams that support the glass sails. “The idea of creating a glass building that is transparent, ephemeral, and like a cloud is difficult to achieve in architecture,” said Gehry (FLV Le Journal, No. 1, October 2014). Consequently, it took six years to complete from commencement of construction in March 2008.

Inside is a long, narrow reflecting pool. In the passageway by the reflecting pool, Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson has erected a series of stainless steel and aluminium triangular columns of different widths with a LED lighting system, called Inside the Horizon (2014). Two sides of the columns are covered in mirrors. A third side is covered with a yellow-brown glass mosaic.

Update: Frank Gehry received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama at the White House on Tuesday 22 November 2016, the highest civilian honour to individuals who have made significant contributions to ‘security or national interests of the United States to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavours.’

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Photographs: Frank Gehry from humanities.blogs.ie.edu (top); all photographs of the Louis Vuitton Foundation building in Paris are by Frey & Mosby (April 2015)

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