What Could Be: The Effect of the Foundation Louis Vuitton on Mirvish + Gehry

 October 27, 2014


Frank Gehry’s diverse portfolio is one of the many reasons we are so lucky to have him as part of this project. The longevity of Gehry’s career is a testament to his extreme talent and he continues to make waves all around the world with a unique architectural style. His partnerships with Facebook and Rodarte have made news, but his collaboration with Louis Vuitton is definitely one of the most acclaimed. Frank Gehry was hand-picked by Bernard Arnault to design the Fondation Louis Vuitton, an art museum and cultural centre in Paris sponsored by Louis Vuitton’s parent company LVMH. Bernard Arnault is the CEO of LVMH as well as an avid art collector. His love for collecting art came to life at the Phillips de Pury & Company auction house, which he owned between 1999 and 2003.

Arnault first commissioned Gehry to build what he hoped would be an architectural marvel in Paris after he saw the Guggenheim in Bilbao for the first time in 2001. He wanted to give Paris an extraordinary place for art and culture that would become a centrepiece for the city and an emblem of our century.

Gehry called upon the building’s surroundings for inspiration. It is, of course, on the site of the infamous Bois de Boulogne park with the Jardin d’Acclimation – a stunning indoor children’s park – as its neighbour. The new building was going to be large, 126,000 square feet to be exact, and Gehry wanted to make sure the design would not be intrusive to the park but instead would blend well with other elements there.

Glass was the material of choice for Gehry. Not only does it evoke a sense of transparency, but it would pay tribute to the Jardin d’Acclimation nearby as well as an overall garden structure feel. There were a total of 3,600 panes of glass used to construct the Fondation Louis Vuitton, which formed 12 large sails to complete the exterior facade.

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is of course a stunning piece of architecture, but its function and purpose in the city is just as commendable. As Arnault states on the building’s website, the Fondation is “a new space that opens up a dialogue with a wider public and provides artists and intellectuals with a platform for debate and reflection.” The building is meant to be a host for the arts community in Paris, offering everything from gallery viewing, to event space, and educational programs. Sound familiar?

Gehry recently spoke to Forbes about the Fondation Louis Vuitton and explained the complexities of his projects perfectly:

“Each project that I design has its own challenges because each project has a different site, budget, schedule and program. I take on these challenges as opportunities to make the design unique and specific to the site and the client. The Fondation Louis Vuitton could not be built anywhere else in the world – it wouldn’t fit. Some may say that the site was challenging, but I would say that it was a great opportunity.”

As with Mirvish+Gehry Toronto, the same kind of challenges may be present but the opportunity is one that has endless benefits.

We hope to instill the same kind of values and appreciation for the arts community in Toronto with our project. Our buildings are situated at the centre of one of the most (if not the most) culturally-driven neighbourhoods in the city. The Mirvish family has built a legacy on King West.  Our buildings will be another addition to that. Our project will incorporate a new gallery that will house David Mirvish’s rare art collection as well as the new home of The Princess of Wales Centre for Visual Arts, a new facility for OCAD University. Our towers will become a cultural hub in Toronto.

Ed Mirvish Enterprises Ltd., Projectcore Inc., Gehry International, Inc., Architects

Much like the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the Mirvish and Gehry towers will stand out among the skyline. It will be the first building that Frank Gehry completely designs in the city he was born in and it will inevitably change the dynamic of architecture in Toronto for the better. The value our project will bring to the city includes everything from tourism, an enhanced public realm, mixed-use living, and will be a focal point for cultural activities. Just as Arnault said about the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, our project will also open up a dialogue with the public.

If you want to read more about the Fondation Louis Vuitton, you can check out Vanity Fair’s September feature here. You can also follow our Twitter and Facebook pages for all of the latest information about our project.


Cover Photo via