Frank Gehry going underground in Philly

Oct. 19, 2006 at 11:56 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Architect Fran Gehry will run the planned expansion of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, it was announced Thursday.

Gehry has a portfolio of high-profile cultural buildings including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Norton Simon Museum of Art in Pasadena, Calif., and Spain's Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

The master plan for the City of Brotherly Love calls for the construction of 80,000 square feet of public space, a 60-percent increase from the current size, the museum said in a news release.

But don't expect a dramatic new addition to the Philadelphia cityscape. The project is meant to be carried off without disturbing the landmark museum's classic exterior, so the expansion will largely involve renovation of the interior spaces and excavation of new galleries under ground.

Gehry told The New York Times he was up to the challenge of making something spectacular underground.

"To be under the covers and to try to make architecture that way is a fascinating thought," he said. "All architects are intrigued by subterranean things."

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