The Fondation Louis Vuitton was the vision of architect Frank Gehry whose original sketches for the project resembled scribbled chaos more than the glass beauty that the structure ended up being. Positioned in the Bois de Boulogne, the Fondation represents the Parisian trend of marrying nature with infrastructure, both in design and in principle, much like it was when the park itself was created. The Fondation is uniquely Parisian in nature because of its love of nature.
The Bois de Boulogne itself is a man-made oasis that offers Parisians a place of environmental refuge from the bustling city, a type of infrastructure in and of itself. However, the Fondation Louis Vuitton blends the Parisian love of glass and metal with the love of avant-garde fashion, creating a place that blends with its natural surroundings, while still standing out. The building itself is made of 12 glass panels, all varied in size, shape, and curvature. This means that depending upon the angle from which the structure is viewed, it can take different shapes and morph from one resemblance to the next. In the day time, when the sun is shining overhead, it may look like a cloud. While at night, in the rain, it may look like a campfire fighting for life. These changing likenesses bring the building to life by allowing for a sort of cloud gazing experience, where passerby and park goers can ask one another, what does it look like to you?
Although, the structure looks almost effortlessly secure, its construction was a feat of innovation and technology. The Fondation is supported by stainless steel beams that are anchored in the ground underneath the structure. These beams are the only part of the construction process that are relatively uniform. On top of these was laid concrete and steel frames called icebergs that were designed to move with the glass panels that sit atop them. These icebergs were covered in ceramic tiles, adding to the white look afforded to the structure by the glass sails. The rest of the structure, including the glass panels, was unique to each piece constructed, making fabrication difficult. The design and execution of building is a modern marvel that required meticulous planning and cohesion between planners, architects, and builders. This cohesion is something Paris is no stranger to, one look at the Haussmannian design of Paris will tell you that, but the Fondation also breaks free of these constraints by looking for beauty in the inconsistent rather than the uniform. The Fondation has proven that there is something utterly Parisian about the incongruent.
The Fondation has also been a resounding success politically. The Fondation exemplifies many Parisian loves; the love of space, the love of leisure, the love of technology, and the love of art. The Fondation Louis Vuitton amalgamates them, while still being fresh and exciting. The glass is conducive with the surrounding park atmosphere, while also emitting the striking modernity of technology. The use of the building for exhibiting and creating art combines the love of leisurely strolling, in this case through an art museum, and the love for art. These combinations make it easy for the Fondation to blend; blend into art, blend into culture, and blend into the landscape. However, the Fondation is not invisible. It has captured the attention of Parisians and the world alike. It hosts art from many artists, from all over the world, allowing it to be an epicenter of art and communication through art. It has become a must-see attraction, as well as a place to stroll past and admire on a whim. It is undeniable that the Fondation Louis Vuitton has captured the hearts of Parisians and the attentions of the world, while still letting the Bois de Boulogne be the star of the show.