The Building

From an initial sketch drawn on a blank page in a notebook to the transparent cloud sitting at the edge of the Jardin d'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne, Frank Gehry constantly sought to "design, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France".

A creator of dreams, he has designed a unique, emblematic and bold building.

Respectful of a history rooted in French culture of the 19th century, Frank Gehry dares to use technological achievements of the 21st century, opening the way for pioneering innovation.

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We wanted to present Paris with an extraordinary space for art and culture, and demonstrate daring and emotion by entrusting Frank Gehry with the construction of an iconic building for the 21st century.

Bernard Arnault quote
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To reflect our constantly changing world, we wanted to create a building that would evolve according to the time and the light in order to give the impression of something ephemeral and continually changing.

Frank Gehry quote

From the 19th century, Frank Gehry took the transparent lightness of glass and the taste for walks punctuated by surprises. His architecture combines a traditional "art de vivre", visionary daring and the innovation offered by modern technology.

From the invention of glass curved to the nearest millimetre for the 3,600 panels that form the Fondation's twelve sails to the 19,000 panels of Ductal (fibre-reinforced concrete), each one unique, that give the iceberg its immaculate whiteness, and not forgetting a totally new design process, each stage of construction pushed back the boundaries of conventional architecture to create a unique building that is the realisation of a dream.

The Fondation in figures

 

13 500 m2 : surface area of the 12 glass sails

19 000 sheets of Ductal (white fibre-reinforced concrete)

7 000 m2 : total usable floor space

3 850 m2 : museum space

11 exhibition galleries

360 - 1 000
: seats in the auditorium

Ductal intérieure
Ductal

The Architect

 

An internationally renowned architect, Frank Gehry lives and works in Los Angeles. His daring and poetic architectural style offers an approach that differs from the conventional construction of various buildings.

Powerful, it toys with gravity, using volumes that create cloud-like forms.

Innovative, it provokes visual ruptures that reinterpret perspectives. Narrative, it invents a futurist design that inspires surprise and emotion.

Transcript: Tout d'abord nous savions que pour construire un bâtiment dans ce parc, il nous faudrait construire dans le style du Grand Palais, quelque chose en verre. Ce serait comme une structure de jardin. Je crois que Bernard et moi avons parlé de cela dès le début. Pour qu'il soit accepté par la Ville il fallait que le batiment soit lié au jardin, aux arbres, et à la structure du jardin. Je jouais avec des voiles en verre et je ne savais pas comment j'allais les assembler, et quel serait leur fonctionnement. Dès le dŽbut nous savions que le batîment serait constitué d'une partie solide à l'intérieur que nous avons surnommée l'iceberg, et une partie extérieure qu'ils appellent maintenant la verrière. Nous avons conçu ce projet comme une sorte de vaisseau flottant, comme une boîte flottant au-dessus du sol. C'est comme ça que l'on pourrait résumer le projet. Et le toit sera comme un jardin recouvert de verre.
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It is a very unusual building. I have never designed anything exactly like it.

Frank Gehry quote

The Artistic Gesture

This great architectural exploit has already taken its place among the iconic works of 21st-century architecture. Frank Gehry's building, which reveals forms never previously imagined until today, will be the reflection of the unique, creative and innovative project that is the Fondation Louis Vuitton.

To produce his first sketches, Frank Gehry took his inspiration from the lightness of late 19th-century glass and garden architecture. The architect then produced numerous models in wood, plastic and aluminium, playing with the lines and shapes, investing his future building with a certain sense of movement. The choice of materials became self-evident: an envelope of glass would cover the body of the building, an assembly of blocks referred to as the "iceberg", and would give it its volume and its vitality.

Placed in a basin specially created for the purpose, the building fits easily into the natural environment, between woods and garden, while at the same time playing with light and mirror effects. The final model was then scanned to provide the digital model for the project. 

 

Biography

Training: University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, and Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

1979:
Completion of his own residence in Santa Monica.

1993: Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis.

1996:
The Dancing House, Prague.

1997: Opening of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

2000:
Receives the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

2001:
First meeting with Bernard Arnault and first sketches of the Fondation building.

2003:
Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and Vitra Museum in Weil-am-Rhein. In the same year, Frank Gehry receives the Pritzker Prize for Architecture.

2006: Sydney Pollack pays tribute to him in his film Sketches of Frank Gehry.

2007:
IAC Building, New York.

2011:
 New York Tower by Gehry.