The building below, the Frank Gehry designed ICS Engineering Research Facility (occupied largely by members of my department) is now gone. When I left work Friday it was surrounded by construction fencing; today there's just a building shaped hole where it was. The associated classroom building is still standing but not, I imagine, for long.
I knew it had been planned for destruction for a long time; it wasn't very practical as a building. Nor was it, I think, an important part of Gehry's oevre except as a reminder of his early work before he went all curvy. And the timing of our move into our own new building has in large part been dictated by the need to move out of this one before it went down, so I knew its end was near. But it still comes as a bit of a surprise to see it happen so suddenly.
ETA: Marissa Gluck has more. A newspaper article on the demolition, originally from the OC Register, includes a quote from Princeton architectural historian Sarah Whiting claiming that UCI has the distinction of being the first college campus to have torn down one of its Gehry buildings. And while I'm updating, here are five more photos of detail from the demolished building: 1 2 3 4 5.
it wasn't very practical as a building.
There was a recent article in the NY Times describing avant-garde-looking-yet-disfunctional buildings as "vanity jobs" that will not stand the test of time.
I don't think the author meant it quite so literally, but certainly plastic demolition charges are the most unflattering form of criticism.
I don't really know, but I've been told that its impracticality stemmed less from the original design and more from the re-engineering process needed to construct it within budget. In short, they used cheaper roofing material that leaked.
In Europe they usually (~always) restructure old buildings over and over and over again, instead of destroying them... even buildings that are no practical at all.
In Europe they usually (~always) restructure old buildings over and over and over again, instead of destroying them...
It seems that way, but it is not so, otherwise all buildings in the downtown area of an European city would be of medieval vintage like in Colmar or early renaissance like Bruges.
In the first forty years after the war must funds had to be dedicated towards reconstruction which is why demolition (and adventurous construction) was rare in that time. Since then many unsightly buildings have quietly come down.
Europeans do tend to make an extra effort to preserve the buildings that are nice, which accounts in great measure for the architectural beauty of their cities: hundreds of years of culling.
In the US in contrast, we've all seen architecturally gorgeous two story building be torn down simply because they can be replaced with a 20 story non-descript building producing twice the income.