Fenster and a Friend Go on a Mini-Pilgrimage

Fenster writes:

People with the means, the time and the religious zeal often head to northern Spain if they are interested in a pilgrimage.  Depending on the nature of one’s religion that can include either or both of these:

Santiago de Campostela


or the Guggenheim Bilbao.

bilbFenster likes to travel.  And as a green tree frog originally from the Pogo comic strip, he has the leisure time and the resources from his residuals from Pogo to make a journey.  It’s expensive though and the larger problem is that the religious zeal is lacking.  One could say the flesh is willing but the spirit is weak.

But a smaller commitment made sense.  So Fenster and a friend headed off to see another Gehry Building, the Stata Center at MIT.

MIT_Strata_CenterInstead of a long, expensive journey, possibly undertaken at risk of life or limb, this was just a short, free bike ride from home.  And let me tell you it was worth every penny.

The vehry name Gehry is going to get people riled up in these parts I know.  Over on a related Facebook page someone posted a quote of his in which he is asserts that “denying the architect’s right to self-expression is like denying democracy.”  Well, the comments lit right up, lighting into Frank for wrapping his elitist sensibilities in the flag, as though he is entitled–by the commoners–to his commissions.

But let me give Stata one cheer.  And I give it a cheer for being–well, if not cheery, at least a little looser and more flippant than the generally dreary environment at MIT.  That campus until not so long ago resembled a set of army barracks, with overtones of an aging electronics assembly factory in 1965 China.  The campus has gotten way glossier in the past decades but it still feels like it is not much fun.  It’s now half white collar industrial park and half construction site.

You have to give the Stata Center this: it has a certain theme park hall of mirrors fun side to it, and that is not all bad.  Much architecture nowadays is hell bent on making you feel rotten since what is so great about normal human reactions anyways?  Take your postmodern medicine, asshole.

My wife and several of her friends found themselves there not so long ago and reported back, as regular human beings and frogs with pronounced non-elite tendencies, that they liked it.  It was fun.  It was pleasurable.  And if you want to hang around, you are free to do so in the amphitheater out back, a venue that is perhaps lacking in pure classical grace but which is intended to function in a classic fashion, as a place where recognizable human creatures can assemble either informally or formally, for a performance or event.

provided the Center itself does not fall on you.

provided the Center itself does not fall on you

Fenster’s friend also thought it OK.  Here we are out front . . .

fenstata1and around back.


I am looking to increase the volume of comments to my posts and I figure saying anything positive about Frank Gehry might get the juices flowing.  Bring it on!

About Fenster

Gainfully employed for thirty years, including as one of those high paid college administrators faculty complain about. Earned Ph.D. late in life and converted to the faculty side. Those damn administrators are ruining everything.
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8 Responses to Fenster and a Friend Go on a Mini-Pilgrimage

  1. Faze says:

    The first Frank Gehry building I ever walked through was the Peter B. Lewis Building of the Weatherhead School of Business at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). It was like being inside a kind of seashell, with high curving walls, and lots of twisty, random features. I turned and said to my wife, “This would be a great place for a shootout”. She said, “Oh, tush”. A year or so later, I was working out on the CWRU campus, and looked up on the video screen, and saw a live aerial view of the very building I was in on CNN. It seemed that a shootout was taking place at the Frank Gehry building. One unfortunate soul was killed at the front door, and the police were stalking the shooter through those twisty turny spaces. When I got back to my office, a co-worker was on the phone to her sister, who worked in the Gehry building and was hiding under her desk. The co-worker put her hand over the mouthpiece and said to me, “I can hear shots in the background”. It took the police 7 hours to catch the guy — who led them on a merry, gun-popping chase.
    So if nothing else, a Frank Gehry building is indeed a “great” place for a shootout.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Slumlord says:

    I prefer Modernist to this shite any day. Damn, I prefer Brutalist to it.

    His architecture is not “boring” in the same way a gangland killing or car accident with a fatality isn’t.

    What sort of damn legacy are we leaving the kids. Future generations will definitely call us retarded.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jjbees says:

    I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings, but when I first saw the Gehry building at MIT in real life it made feel nauseous, and it does now.

    I’m perfectly fine with architects building these things, but only as long as they do it far from where I live!


  4. j says:

    Bldg.32 illustrates Kahnemann: “The world makes much less sense than you think. The coherence comes from the way your mind works under the influence of alcohol.”


    • fenster says:

      You would think the donor and the architect would have conspired to make sure the piece of art they funded and designed would not be called “Building 32”.


  5. Guilty as one of your wife’s several friends. Frank Gehry fan. Glad you ventured out!


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