VILA OLIMPICA FISH SCULPTURE
Photo courtesy FOGA
The Vila Olimpica Hotel Arts project is located within the 1992 Olympic Village redevelopment site in Barcelona, Spain. The project site is adjacent to the Passeig de Carles 1, a primary North arterial which terminates in a marina and conference center site on the Mediterranean. The project for the Travelstead Group includes the 45-story Hotel Arts, housing 600 rooms, 33 luxury apartments, conference facilities, and an office building, all designed by Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, as well as 150,000 square feet of retail, commercial, and maritime elements designed by Frank Gehry. This joint design effort responds to the Master Plan developed by Martorell, Bohigas & Mackay for the Olympic Village.
The retail portion of the project is bounded by the hotel tower to the North and the beach to the South. The project includes the development of a portion of the Paseo Maritimo - the waterfront promenade - which begins at the old harbor and is intended to be developed through the Olympic Village and up the coast to the Northeast. Public spaces in the retail court, and the activities they contain, are intended to provide a destination point along the waterfront promenade as well as a transition zone for pedestrians at the offset in the Paseo that occurs at the adjacent marina development.
The retail structures are arranged around a central court which links the development to the waterfront at both the beach and the waterfront promenade levels. A variety of sculptural elements, including a monumental fish sculpture which floats over the retail court, have been developed to provide points of interest and activity along the waterfront promenade. The fish sculpture, which is approximately 54 meters long and 35 meters tall, is intended to provide a waterfront landmark. This sculpture provides an abstract foreground element when viewed from the hotel terraces, and is a shading and enclosing device to the retail court below. The principle elevator and escalator circulation elements for connecting retail levels and parking occur below the monumental sculpture.
The basic materials - stone, steel, and glass - are extensions of those established at the hotel tower and base and are continued throughout the FOG/A design in order to reinforce a unity of the project while allowing a variety of treatments of these materials to be expressed. The expressed structure of the fish sculpture and pedestrian bridges and the trellis elements of the civic and public spaces are free extensions of the more ordered exposed structural language established in the SOM tower.
"When I was invited by Ware Travelstead and Bruce Graham to design the commercial center for Vila Olimpica, I had no intention of creating a giant fish sculpture although Bruce Graham, in the early meetings, suggested that I consider making a fish sculpture somewhere in the project. I started the design process planning to make the main buildings in a different language, probably a language of my own, as a contrasting element with Bruce's tower. The first models show the beginnings of that idea and while both the client and Bruce were quite accepting of that direction, the longer I proceeded that way the more I felt that it detracted from the importance and presence of the tower. On a hunch, I then started to study the new buildings of the center using Bruce Graham's already strongly stated language of stone base and steel exoskeleton. Almost immediately this idea worked better from all aspects. It not only complemented and strengthened the tower and its presence, but it also created a much stronger public space that fit beautifully with the tower/hotel functions. In the early beginnings of that scheme, we had a trellis of some sort as a sort of shading device over the public courtyard. As the scheme evolved, it became clear that while the use of Bruce's language strengthened its relationship to the land and the community, it needed desperately to have an accent piece that would challenge the tower and create a tension with it. The trellis evolved to a wave form and slowly became what it is - an abstract flying fish. The structure of the sculpture is made from the same exoskeleton but is clad with a new material to separate it from the rest of the project. I used a bronze color dipped stainless steel which catches the sunlight and creates a presence which holds its own with the tower but never dominates it so that the tower always remains the dominant element. While the fish sculpture can be seen from some distance, I believe it is more successful at close range, when you are under it, in front of it, behind it, near it and seeing it in relationship to the details of the tower and the surrounding buildings. I wanted to name the sculpture Sardana, after a Catalan dance which is usually performed in front of the cathedral. I thought while Bruce's building is not a cathedral, it has a dominating presence and the sculpture dances in front of it."
Frank O. Gehry
|Client:||The Travelstead Group|
|Area:||150,000 square feet retail area|
|Schedule:||Begin Design - 1989
Begin Construction - 1991
Completion - 1992
|Frank 0. Gehry
C. Gregory Walsh
Christopher Joseph Bonura
|- Design Principal
- Project Principal
- Project Manager
- Project Designers
- Project Architect
- Project Team Captain
- Project Team