Following our post yesterday about the water troubles discovered in Frank Gehry‘s Art Gallery of Ontario, we received a great e-mail from a trusted anonymous tipster who says that not all is even remotely as well with the building as has been reported. That said, and with their permission, we’ve decided to post their entire response:
The problems are even more absurd than the Globe and Mail lets on. I was there a couple weeks ago and saw the problems first hand.
The outside front is comprised of a massive glass wall that has a lip or return three feet high, that effectively catches and retains a massive snow load in the winter. Apparently they have had to have people up there every day to shovel it out — a huge job even after light snowfall. That same glass wall makes for the stunning interior gallery that is where many of the leaks have occurred. I think they will be fixed, but the lip design is a huge liability with no easy solution. The interior elements ARE stunning, until you look at them close up. Much of it is a natural wood panelling, and the joinery looks as if completed by a blind person with a jigsaw. If I was the museum, I would never sign-off on this stuff… really hack work. Everywhere there are extension cords running around to power ventilation fans. There is duct tape all over the place to attempt to re-engineer the airflow, which isn’t working.
The workers left the surface protection film on the exterior stainless surfaces, and now they can’t get it off. (I actually make a living with that stuff, and it’s intended application time is 90 days, indoors only). There is a small series shot by Edward Burtynsky on the construction.. and you can actually see some of the finishing issues in his shots.
This building was supposed to be Gehry’s proudest accomplishment. He’s Toronto-born, and cites the gallery as of big importance in his formative years. I’m sure there are mitigating circumstances — no doubt the blame is much more with the construction company than with Gehry — Quality Control is a big part of the problems I saw. But the execution overall seems to be a stain on everyone involved in it.