Vitra Design Museum
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Architect Frank Gehry
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Location Weil-am-Rhein, Germany   map
Date 1990   timeline
Building Type museum
 Construction System metal roofs
Climate temperate
Context suburban ?
Style Expressionist Modern
Notes Abstract assemblage of cuboid and curvaceous forms.


Discussion Vitra Design Museum Commentary

"Using a palette of strongly architectonic forms, the formative ideas explored in his own house were further developed at a comprehensive urban scale in his design for the Loyola Law School....The result was large-scale disparate elements dexterously juxtaposed—thrust inward or conversely pushing outward—against buildings and urban sculptural elements that themselves were formally not reconciled in a traditional sense. It further evidenced Gehry's interest in the discreet interlock of disparate forms which, through collision and seeming disorder, somehow combine to create a presence in resolution—probably the basic reason why Cubism and Expressionism is so obviously his connection to Modernism.

"This is readily apparent in his Vitra Design Museum, a small, 8,000-square-foot building on two floors basically for the exhibit of chairs, design, and educational programs. The building is a continuous changing swirl of white forms on the exterior, each seemingly without apparent relationship to the other, with its interiors a dynamically powerful interplay, in turn directly expressive of the exterior convolutions. As a totality it resolves itself into an entwined coherent display in much the same way that Gehry's 1990 proposal for the American Center in Paris will likewise bring the disparate functional and spatial demands...into a more centralized though again a visually discordant, volumetric totality..."

— from Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. p233-234.

Sources on Vitra Design Museum

Olivier Boissiere and Martin Filler. The Vitra Design Museum: Frank Gehry Architect. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-8478-1199-9. LC 89-63961. NA6700.W45B6. photo of the sculpture "Balancing Tools" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, p57.

Akiko Busch. The Photography of Architecture: Twelve Views. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01349-3. LC 86-5627. TR659.B87 1986. overview photo, elevation detailing drawing, p231.

Kurt W. Forster, Hadley Soutter Arnold, Francesco Dal Co. Frank O. Gehry : The Complete Works. Monacelli Press, September 1998. ISBN 1-8852-5463-6. — A beautiful book with multiple Five Star reviews from readers. Available at

Paul Heyer. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993. ISBN 0-442-01328-0. LC 92-18415. NA2750.H48 1993. exterior photo, p231. discussion, p233-234.

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Vitra Design Museum


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