Urban Art Museum

Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects

Mr. Gwathmey and his deference to the serious architecture of Walt Disney

In the autumn of Charles Gwathmey’s life controversy beleaguered the architect and his design for the addition to Paul Rudolph’s New Haven masterpiece, the Art & Architecture Building at Yale. Negative reviews of the addition by architectural critics overshadowed the concurrent design and completion of several projects by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. One project lost in the shadows of this polemic was Disney’s Bay Lake Tower in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The project would further freefall into obscurity due to the premature death of Charles Gwathmey on August 3rd, 2009, one day before the resort would officially open to the public. The Art & Architecture Building and its “sadly conventional”[1] design will be remembered by many as the disappointing final work of an architect made famous for designing buildings that successfully compete with, seamlessly blend and sometimes gracefully defer to the existing architectural monuments and masterpieces that they adjoin.

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Glass block is a great building material; I believe that if Louis Kahn would have had the opportunity he would have made his arches out of glass block and not bricks. Don’t believe me check out his unbuilt design for the Memorial to Six Million Jewish Martyrs. When is the last time that you asked glass block, what do you want? Has anyone ever?  Glass block is one of those materials that have only had part of its potential exploited.  Before I die, I’ll have to build a glass archway as a tribute to the deceased master architect, but until then let’s look at some glass block details.

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