Towards a draped architecture: An examination of theatricality, virtuosity, and ambiguity in the recent works of Frank O. Gehry, and others

Acalya Kiyak, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Since the late nineteenth-century architects and historians have made comparisons between clothing and architecture considering modern clothing as a metaphor for modern architecture. The argument of this study is similar in the sense that drapery has been considered as a metaphor for the billowing surfaces of contemporary architecture. It argues that in the current practice of architecture there is a shift from tailored architecture towards draped architecture where its exterior surface appears like a drapery loosely laid over buildings. Looking at paintings and sculptures by a variety of artists and sculptors this study explores the crossovers and intersections between the representation of drapery in art and in architecture. It examines the notion of drapery emphasizing: (1) its theatrical and festive character; (2) its simultaneous attempt to create ambiguity and curiosity; and (3) its relationship to the concepts like autonomy, opacity, and permanency; and (4) finally how it becomes an important means of displaying and celebrating technological virtuosity. Each chapter ends with a critical assessment of a recent building by Frank O. Gehry who could be seen as the best representative of draped architecture in order to demonstrate the different instances of its paradoxical representations. The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park in Chicago, all coincide in their theatrical, ambiguous, and virtuosic qualities. The motif of drapery considered both literally and in its metaphorical dimensions opens topical questions that are pertinent to the current architectural practice. Given the materiality and weight of the building, rendering of a drapery is not an easy task. Nonetheless, as this study revealed, it becomes a vehicle for displaying technological virtuosity, theatricality, and mystery.

Subject Area

Architecture|Design|Interior design|Art history

Recommended Citation

Kiyak, Acalya, "Towards a draped architecture: An examination of theatricality, virtuosity, and ambiguity in the recent works of Frank O. Gehry, and others" (2005). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3165716.
https://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI3165716

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