Gehry sails into New York with IAC headquarters design

Toronto-born architect Frank Gehry's first building in New York is meeting with mixed reviews.

Toronto-bornarchitect Frank Gehry's first building in New York is meeting with mixed reviews.

The headquarters of internet company IAC opened Monday in a low-key ceremony.

The curves of the building are sculpted to look like the billowing sails of a sailboat and the building is clad in white to enhance the illusion, reflecting a passion for sailing in both Gehry and IAC chief executive Barry Diller.

Bloomberg news service wrote that the building lacked the dramaof some of Gehry's more famous projects, such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles or the Guggenheim Bilbao, but praised it for its "suave refinement."

"Gehry has whipped silky curves of white glass into … lovely gobs," Bloomberg said.

Acritic for Newsday dismissed the curves of the milky-hued building as a "gimmick."

The "building is a minor mood piece, not the sort of rhapsodic extravaganza his adorers are used to," Newsday said.

Gehry, whose architecture firm is based in Los Angeles, shot to international fame with the Guggenheim project in Bilbao, known for its dramatic lines and curves.

While the IAC headquartershas none ofthestraight lines and square corners of conventional office buildings, the New York Times said it seems tame by comparison with other Gehry buildings.

"Gehry is adding a much-needed touch of lightness to the Manhattan skyline just as the city finally emerges from a period of mourning," Nicolai Ouroussoffwrote in the New York Times.

He said the building suggests "the casual confidence of an aging virtuoso rather than the brash innovation of a rowdy outsider."

The 10-storey building will house about 400 employees.

The building overlooks High Line Park being created on top ofdeserted elevated train tracks in Lower Manhattan.

Diller and his wife, designer Diane von Furstenberg, have donated $5 million US from a family foundation to create the park, which will be the site of the High Line festival in May,curated by David Bowie.

Gehry has missed out on several chances to design a large project in New York.

He was set to design a 61-storey skyscraper that was going to be built on the site of Madison Square Garden 20 years ago, when the project was abandoned.

A hotel in Astor Place, a building in Times Square and a new Guggenheim over the East River also never reached fruition.

Gehry has designed the interior of a Manhattan town house and a cafeteria inside Condé Nast headquarters.

But he could yet have a larger mark on the city with the design of the massive Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn, a nine-hectare development involving highrises and a basketball arena.