back to article MIT sues architect for crap computing-dept campus

Frank Gehry, a member of the artistic school perhaps best described as Architects Renowned for their Startling Edifices, is being sued by MIT. A $300m building he designed for the famous technical university is allegedly faulty. Gehry, feted among his fellow picture'n'model-mongers worldwide for eyecatching building designs …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well, I guess you can go for "funky/weird" or for "functional", but woe betide you if you think you can get both :-)

  2. Anonymous Coward


    When the committee, that agreed to buy that building complex, actually signed the contract - well I want some of what they were smoking.

    That has gotta be goooood sh1t.

  3. Matthew Sinclair


    Who in there right minds would spend 15 mil for a building...only to not like it after the fact and sue them for 30 mil.

    This sounds like a scam.

    Oh...and the building looks like I don't blame them.. other than they where dumb enough to agree to it in the first place.

  4. Bryan Jones
    Paris Hilton

    Barcelona/Bilbao there all in Portugal aren't they?

    I think The Guggenheim Museum you're referring to is in Bilbao, northern Spain rather than Barcelona.

  5. Keiran


    Really they should have been able to anticipate problems. The buildings look like something out of a bad cartoon!

  6. Nick Haw

    Guggenheim Museum.....

    .......Is in Bilbao, not Barcelona...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Lewis, Lewis, Lewis... didn't 007 teach you ANYTHING?

    The Guggenheim is in BILBÃO, NOT Barcelona. Barcelona is the home of Gaudi, the famous creator of a very unique and organic style.

    And ANYONE who watched Pierce Brosnan swing himself down that Swiss banker's building by his belt and the Venetian blind straps in The World Is Not Enough would know that.


  8. Del Merritt


    Back in my day we were happy with the old "Building 20". It housed hobbiests and niche study groups. And while it looked like it was about to fall down any day, its "temporary" structure lasted decades. Perhaps the RADAR helped seal the site.

    Vis Gehry, The Onion had it right back in 2002:

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    California Architects

    I do believe these guys think that everyone has a climate just like theirs.

    Had one fine example of a house on a south-facing slope carefully designed to minimise sun infiltration -- good Calif goals, but not at high latitudes in a climate with lots of overcast in winter, where Seasonally Affective Disorder is a very real issue.


  10. Robert Long


    Gehry is a classic example of an architect who's work has only one function: impressing other architects. This is not difficult since most architects are impressed with shiny things like OS X (look: the IT angle!).

    The rest of us just have to live with cityscapes that become dated as quickly as any Paris catwalk of similarly fashion-led self-indulgent twaddle (look: the Paris angle too; I'm smoking today!).

    Knock the thing down and give the Scottish Parliament farce the same treatment.

  11. Steve Evans


    Last time I saw a picture like that on my screen it was caused by my graphics card over heating!

  12. SonOfAGhost

    Just arrange a trade

    Move the computer geeks and linguists to the architechture building and the folks that design crap like that to the carnival funhouse. Who knows, maybe if architects actually had to live with some of the abominations that have been foisted on the general public of late there'd be a chance of them removing their collective craniums from their rectums.

  13. Tom

    So MIT have finaly noticed...

    That the emperor has no clothes?

  14. Brian Miller

    MIT should stop complaining

    MIT signed off on the design, ignored all the warnings, and had it built. Now they complain about it???

    How to not have problems: Get a building designed that functions reliably like every other building. Build it just like all the other buildings. Go and use it like all the other buildings. No problems.

    How to have problems: Get your incompetent architect drunk and high. Ignore the stupid design. Ignore all warnings from the construction company. Throw lots of money at it.

    Stop compaining, MIT. One would think that with all of the supposedly smart people on your campus, there might be a thimbleful of common sense to know that this would be a disaster.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Hey, don't go lumping all of California with Lala land!

    Given the location on the state, it's appropriate for LA to be the anus of California, because that's where all the crap comes from (See: Hollywood).

    Heck, even insane old Sarah Winchester, with her 38 years nonstop building, with her fears of ghosts, lack of architectural training, and an unlimited budget, made something that's stood the test of time and earthquakes. And it looks like she had a working straightedge and square.

    Silicon Valley might have its fair share of loonies and a dog-turd sculpture or two, but even the Adobe HQ building and Transamerica Pyramid are stylish, useful, and don't waste materials with windows hanging out like cheap air conditioning units!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    What did they expect?

    Did anyone at MIT even look at any of Frank Gehry's previous creations? They all look like that. They all look like shite.

  17. Petrea Mitchell
    Thumb Down

    Re: California Architects

    Mr. Gehry is perfectly capable of creating buildings that don't work in California as well. He's also responsible for the Walt Disney Concert Hall, whose curvy, shiny aluminum roof had to undergo an emergency lowering of albedo after it was discovered to be creating hotspots in the buildings next door.

  18. Chris G

    Tom & Jerry

    Architects are the people who design this rubbish that looks like a background from an early sixties Tom & Jerry cartoon but civil engineers( at least in Britain) are the people who make the idiot ramblings of architects into buildings that stay standing and work. They ( the engineers) are supposedly assisted by the common sense and practicality of the builders who, by their experience should know better. Lastly, one would think that a highly renowned technical institution like MIT would have an inkling. Sounds like too much bribery an graft on this one, everybody got into the act!

  19. Eduard Coli

    Eh so what

    What a waste of donor and tax payer monies.

    MIT is not what it used to be.

    It used to be about hands-on, way-out research.

    Now it is just another financial aid sponge pumping degrees out for China and India's elite on the US tax payers dollar.

  20. kain preacher

    Now that you mentioned it

    You mean to tell me that MIT didnt have their own civil engineers look at it.

    MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering .

  21. Charles Hammond

    Designed By Idiots

    This building looks like it is designed by 5th grader that was high on drugs.

    Nothing wrong with a well designed rectangular building. If it is not broken dont fix it. I work at a community college and we have some of the lovliest old stone construction and new buildings which have been blended in with stone facing to try to blend in the new with the old. Public spaces are just as important as the offices and classrooms. For a building to be new it does not have to look like it is a reject coors can with some match boxes glued on to the side at ugly obscene angles. A building has to also have form and function.

    If you add a few circular stair cases, towers, and architectural accents and join a few structures into one it can look quite stunning.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm thinking Dr. Suess

    looks like something out of cat in a hat...

    But what I find so shocking is that not only did they accept the design but they PAID good money for something that looked like something from an lsd induced hallucination.

  23. Larry Janus

    You Think This Is Bad?

    Wait until you see the Alzheimer's research center he's designed for Las Vegas. I can't help but wonder about an Alzheimer's research center with no right angles. I suspect evolution will not choose for this mutation.

    On the other hand, the Disney concert hall is nice.

  24. Adrian Esdaile

    @Chris G

    If we lived in a world designed by civil engineers we would all live in concrete cubes or shipping containers.

    That, or just all huddle under bridges.

  25. Adrian Esdaile

    And while I'm at it...

    "maybe if architects actually had to live with some of the abominations that have been foisted on the general public of late there'd be a chance of them removing their collective craniums from their rectums."

    Well, someone needs some anger management, don't they? People don't call for ALL programmers to be beheaded because one or other OS has some bugs; in fact most sane people would regard such as statement as a jest.

    Architecture, though brings out real bile; you see, EVERYONE is an expert on it - you all live in buildings. It's exactly the same as the way you are all expert doctors because you are alive, expert pilots because you breathe air, expert It consultants because you know how to sync your iPods, and expert vintners because you drink White Storm.

    Being an Architect is tough career; you spend 6 years slogging through a tough course, inevitably in a cold, damp, draughty & leaky building (like the Arch faculty at MIT probably is - I know UNSW was like that in the late 80's.) You work hours that would make even the most hardened sysadmin quail, for a salary is only generous when viewed in terms of the 1950s. You then get exposed at every turn to continual abuse in the media, at parties, BBQs, family functions, airports, wherever, because as an architect YOu are personally to blame for the shitty building you happen to be in. Furthermore it is simply assumed that you think Frank Gehry | Zaha Hadid | Daniel Libeskind is a god, and you think the Gherkin is the Best. Building. Ever. (It's not - probably the Sydney Opera House / Colloseum / Washington DC Vietnam Memorial is though...).

    Here's a Clue!: A building is a team effort. Pretty bloody simple really, isn't it? MIT as clients also had a responsibility - due dilligence in finding an Architect; rather than just flick through a few magazines and getting a hard-on for SHINY! About 10 mins research (or pop down to the Arch faculty!) would have found that Gehry's buildings, while very impressive, are also very, VERY expensive to procure, and difficult to construct sucessfully (as most on-site subbies aren't exactly the sharpest crayons in the box). If aircraft manufacturers had to put up with shop-floor monkeys like this, NOTHING would get off the ground, let alone get moving quick enough to hit it again.

    MIT likely wanted a 'Mercedes'-class building but had a budget that was somewhere between 'Lada' and 'Hyundai'. The very first thing to get cut from any building procurement process when it's almost christmas | the wife's due back soon | the board will find out | the money will run out is the 'details' - the little crucial things like designing & selecting good roof drainage systems and making sure the on-site monkeys actually install those little flimsy bits that stop the windows leaking.

    When things go pear-shaped the Architect is the first one against the wall because they practice under their own names, are liable under legislation for the buildings they make, and have paid-up professional indemnity insurance. Unlike most builders, who change comapny names every 3 years to so to avoid this exact situation. It's hard to sue a company that doesn't exist.

    I'm not commenting on Gehry's design, but there are NO physical reasons why such a design should or shouldn't work. The faults are with the procurement process, NOT with the exterior physical form. See, oddly enough, buildings are incredibly complex entities; in which seemingly small and harmless omissions can cause tremendous problems. If MIT's problem is that the new board thinks the building looks goofy, well, tough! Any building can have issues with leaks & cracks; in general the more expensive the building the bigger such problems will be. This wouldn't be a story if it wasn't a visually distinctive building by a Big Name. If it was MIT's Vet Science Faculty's Pig Shed that leaked do you think the Reg would be writing about it?

    Hat, coat, brass knuckles, kosh, loitering with intent at pub door. I'll 'ave ya!

    Registered ARCHITECT, NSW, Australia AND sysadmin for Windows Server, OSX, *nix, C64 & DS Wizzard

  26. Steve Roper

    @Adrian Esdaile

    Hey, I like my concrete cube, thank you very much! ;)

    It's soundproof (so I can pump my stereo at 3 in the morning), it stays cool in summer and warm in winter, and it looks just like any other concrete cube in the area. Now given that freedom is dead and we are now living in an Orwellian oligarchy where you can be arrested and indefinitely detained merely for LOOKING out of place, a nondescript concrete cube surrounded by other nondescript concrete cubes keeps you out of the deadly spotlight of being different. And you can customise the inside to reflect your politically-incorrect and eclectic tastes, without broadcasting to the world that you're a Gitmo candidate! ;)


    Concrete cube to hide from B-B in... check.

    Anonymising proxy for web surfing... check.

    Browser set to strip HTTP headers... check.

    Encryption for email... check.

    Tinfoil hat on... check.

    Coat retrieved... check.

  27. gizmo23

    On the telly...

    ...last night I was watching "Visions of the Future" with Michio Kaku and at one point he was wandering around MIT with those weird-looking buildings in the background. That's what they're really for, TV programs!

    When I was at Sheffield University <coughmumble> years ago the architects were on the top three floors of the tower they designed, just to make sure they knew about the totally inadequate fire escape procedures provided. Supposed to be able to evacuate the entire building in 20 min, when I was there they never got it down to less than 35 min. And guess who came out last after descending 17 floors of stairs?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Architects get to go to bbq's?

    you lucky bastards! Obviously someone thinks the sun shines out somebodies ass, no don't they? As for the abuse... Don't get me started on the differentials between the amount of abuse architects take, vs. a tech, engineer or sysadmin. I walk around the halls all day, every day, 12 hours a day with a great big target on my back (up hill in every direction)

    Nobody calls me just to say hi... It's constant "my connection to the internet is slow" this and "my laser printer is on fire" that. Do the bastards even think of calling us when they bring food in for anybody? Fuck no.

    I've seen architects suffer complete meltdowns because they ran out of lead in their mechanical pencils... God help the IT staff if their computers have a minor hiccup or two!

    But I do agree with you on one point... Everybody wants the world for pennies... You get what you pay for.

    And remember, if you want a cheerful IT staff, just say hi, buy them a coffee, maybe bring in some donuts, just as a small thanks, so you can surf the net just a little faster... OR as thanks that your laser printer was only set on stun, rather than on Kill.

  29. John Benson

    Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

    Having no architectural credentials and duly suspicious of others when they stray outside of the limits of their expertise, I will however venture that MIT's campus addition is more suggestive of Robert Crumb's short psychedelic period than of Disney's Toon Town.

    That said, the staying power and ultimate merit of the approach can't be fairly assessed until a few decades have passed. The walls would probably look a lot more respectably collegiate if ivy-covered. Throw in a few guys in raccoon coats and straw boaters, and Harvard and Yale will have nothing on MIT.

This topic is closed for new posts.