Frank Gehry’s Luma/Parc des Ateliers Put on Hold

It’s perhaps too early to tell, because who knows what else might be in store either positive or negative, but thus far, 2011 is shaping up to the be the year that the French decided to irritate Frank Gehry. Back in April, you might recall, the famous architect’s Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation project on the outskirts of Paris was put on hold for two months after neighboring residents there fought to stop the building. Eventually, after some particularly terse words by Gehry, wherein he called the detractors “individualistic, uncouth philistines,” the powers that be eventually pushed the project forward and work resumed. Who knows what sort of language he’ll use this time, as just a few months later, another stop work order has been put in place, this time on his Luma/Parc des Ateliers. That project was the belle of the ball at last year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, with spectators swooning all over his plans for a park in Arles that features a new cultural center all gussied up in typical Gehry fashion, with lots of crooked-metal-on-metal action. The Art Newspaper reports that the hold up on building all of it comes at the hands of the French National Commission for Historical Sites and Monument who rejected “two out of five building permit applications.” They have called for Gehry’s buildings to be relocated elsewhere in the park for two reasons: a) they would obscure a medieval bell tower, and b) their construction in the current planned location “would disturb the underground Roman-Gallo Sarcophagi” (echoes of Gehry’s Museum of Tolerance problems there, eh?). So far it appears that the architect won’t be verbally lashing out this time, but has accepted the Commission’s findings and will readjust their plans. However, in doing so, it’s expected to add on six more months before construction can begin.