“A Stainless Steel Tornado”: Frank Gehry’s Twisting Tower Nears Completion in France

Gehry’s sculptural façade is designed to evoke the rugged limestone cliffs that surround the city of Arles.

Nathaniel Bahadursingh Nathaniel Bahadursingh

Got an innovative project of your own? Enter it in the 8th Annual A+Awards for a shot at international publication and global recognition. Submit your projects before March 27th to be in the running.

Frank Gehry’s twisting Luma Arles tower is nearing completion in the historic, picturesque city of Arles in southern France. Photography studio Atelier Vincent Hecht recently documented the shimmering landmark, highlighting its stark contrast to the French city’s surrounding, age-old cityscape. 

Wrapped in scaly aluminum cladding and protruding glass boxes, Luma Arles tower has reached its full height of 180 feet ahead of its spring opening. The structure was designed by Gehry as the centerpiece of the Luma Arles, an arts center established by Swiss collector Maja Hoffmann that began construction in 2014. The building will showcase the work of some of the art world’s biggest names.

The project sits at the site of an abandoned rail yard that had been vacant since 1986. It connects two former rail structures, which were converted into exhibition spaces by New York City-based architecture practice, Selldorf Architects. The striking façade of the Luma Arles tower is composed of 11,000 aluminum panels that are irregularly arranged around the building’s concrete and steel frame.

Described by architecture critic Frank Miller as a “stainless-steel tornado”, the cladding was designed by Gehry to evoke the rugged limestone cliffs that surround the city, according to Dezeen. The cylindrical base of the structure refers to the famed Roman amphitheater that lies in the center of the city. 

Upon completion, Luma Arles tower will contain a mix of artist studios, seminar rooms, workshops, and research facilities. Surrounding the project will be a public park called the Parc des Ateliers, designed by Belgian landscape architect Bas Smets. The overall arts center, Luma Arles, seeks to support and produce experimental projects by local artists and allying cultural institutions.

Got an innovative building envelope of your own? Enter it in the Architecture +Façades category for the 8th Annual A+Awards for a shot at international publication and global recognition. Submit your projects before March 27th to be in the running.

All images via Atellier Vincent Hecht

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