Gat ten o’clock in the morning Frank Gehry went to the microphone, nodded friendly to the numerous curators and artists and journalists gathered and explained what one was dealing with here: “This” said the 92-year-old architect who had traveled to the south of France from California. is his “first Roman building”. By “this” was meant that which had grown up on the outskirts of the small town of Arles in the south of France for a number of years and which had sparked even more discussions than is usual with Gehry projects. You have to know that Arles is known for its ancient sites, there is a Roman amphitheater in the center of the city, the Place du Forum is one of the most beautiful and idyllic Provencal squares, many wealthy Parisians have their holiday homes here because everything looks like it does one imagines the old, pleasantly dozed southern France.
The skepticism was correspondingly great when the film producer and art collector Maja Hoffmann, co-heir of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche, bought here in 2010 a huge, twenty-hectare industrial site with six large production halls, which had once belonged to the SNCF railway company, and announced that that with her foundation she would not only transform the halls into a cultural center, but also commissioned Frank Gehry to build a tower. The questions did not decrease: Is it still up to date to build prestige buildings for private patrons at enormous expense – in times when the ecological footprint of large buildings is being discussed more and more? Would the tower disrupt the panorama and float over the ancient sites and the old town like a token of private art collector money?