‘An unfinished Frankenstein’s monster’: the disastrous new Orange County Museum of Art
With ambitiously fractured form, this $94m gallery is open to visitors – if they can find their way inside – but its wonkily assembled parts are a long way from complete
There is a critical point in the creation of contemporary, computer-aided architecture where the elaborate forms conjured on screen must be translated into physical reality. The sweeping, seamless plains of gravity-defying digital matter are transformed into substantial chunks of steel and concrete, usually clad with a thin decorative shell to give the illusion of a solid, sculpted mass. It is a process that relies on extreme levels of precision, careful thought about how the multi-dimensional jigsaw will fit together, and exactly what forms of bolting, welding and fixing are required to simulate the flawless vision.
Sometimes it goes wrong. What appeared to be a feasible junction of multi-curved panels on screen turns out to be an impossible thing to achieve with human hands, power tools and the laws of physics, in the face of immovable deadlines. The panels of steel and glass and terracotta don’t always bend and swoop in the way the architect had hoped.