Object Timeline

1985

  • Work on this object began.

1991

  • Work on this object ended.

2017

2018

  • We acquired this object.

2019

  • You found it!

Drawing, Design for Chiat/Day Building, Los Angeles, CA, ca. 1985–91

This is a Drawing. It is dated ca. 1985–91 and we acquired it in 2018. Its medium is pen and black ink on paper. It is a part of the Drawings, Prints, and Graphic Design department.

These drawings by architect Frank O. Gehry present designs for the Chiat/Day building in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, more commonly known as the “Binoculars Building.” Completed in 1991, the façade of the office building originally housing the Chiat/Day advertising agency combines three radically different exteriors. At the north end, a white windowed building resembles a ship (seen as a windowed rectangular prism in Gehry’s drawings), while at the south end, Gehry designed a brown branching structure suggesting a tree (rendered here as groups of long vertical rectangles). Bridging these incongruous forms is a giant pair of binoculars designed by artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. Though the pop artists are renowned for making large sculptures of everyday objects such as paperclips and clothespins, Gehry incorporated the binoculars into the building’s function, creating a unique blend of art and architecture. The binoculars serve as the entrance to the building for both pedestrians and automobiles—they conceal access to an underground parking garage that serves the offices. Each lens also houses a conference room, with the eyepieces forming a skylight in each. The eclectic layering of the building’s architectural and artistic styles distinguishes it even in a neighborhood full of Gehry’s designs, and his many drawings for the project demonstrate particular attention to the layered elements of the façade. The Chiat/Day building was Gehry’s last major project in Los Angeles before the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2003 and also represents one of the architect’s first uses of a thin metal panel skin, a technique he used in later projects such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

This object was purchased from Ceil Friedman and fund: General Acquisitions Endowment and catalogued by Julie Pastor. It is credited Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund.

Its dimensions are

22.9 × 30.5 cm (9 × 12 in.)

Cite this object as

Drawing, Design for Chiat/Day Building, Los Angeles, CA, ca. 1985–91; pen and black ink on paper; 22.9 × 30.5 cm (9 × 12 in.); Museum purchase from General Acquisitions Endowment Fund; 2018-3-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/1108833487/ |title=Drawing, Design for Chiat/Day Building, Los Angeles, CA, ca. 1985–91 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 March 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>