The Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect recently unveiled his highly anticipated tower in Arles, France, which has served as a hub for artists, including Vincent van Gogh. In an email to the Los Angeles Business Journal, Gehry said, “We wanted to evoke the local, from Van Gogh’s Starry Night to the soaring rock clusters you find in the region. It’s central drum echoes the plan of the Roman amphitheater.”
The vibrant, serrated 184-foot tower is on the Luma Foundation’s 27-acre campus at the Parc des Ateliers. It’s constructed with a steel frame and a concrete core and towers above its surroundings at 56 meters high. More spectacularly, though, are the 11,000 reflective stainless steel panels that make up the exterior surfaces. Gehry said natural light was a “key element” in the project’s design.
“We developed the shape into the blocks and to set them at different angles in order to capture the light and to mix light with different angles,” Gehry said. “That became the idea for the exterior skin. With this, you do get the light of van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ in a visual representation like I had never seen before.”
The Luma Arles tower is home to seminar rooms, exhibition spaces, workshops, a library, a 150-seat auditorium, and a cafe. It is opening with 12 exhibits and admission will reportedly be free through December. After that, it’s expected to be subscription-based.