Seattle is host to the Museum of Pop Culture, which used to be called the Experience Music Project. It was founded in 2000 as a celebration of contemporary pop culture. Renowned architect Frank Gehry was commissioned to design the building, and what he came up with was this.
As the project was dedicated originally to music, Gehry claimed he took his inspiration from pictures of guitars and, maybe, from the look of the building, rock musicians’ penchant for smashing them. Whatever the inspiration, the building was not been well-received. Forbes called it one of the 10 ugliest buildings in the world. Another critic described it as a ‘blob’. Maybe the nicest thing that was said about it was from a local writer who said, “Ghery has designed some wonderful buildings… but his Seattle effort is not one of them.”
In the two decades it’s been part of the Seattle skyline, of course the city has warmed to it. No one likes it, exactly, but it’s become sort of like that weird uncle at the family reunion – he’s strange, but harmless, and hey – he’s family.
Suffice to say this is the danger of architecture as art… it doesn’t matter how many great buildings you’re responsible for. Sometimes your vision just doesn’t land the way you hoped it would. You want a smashed-guitar music museum and you build a blob.
I know we don’t have a lot of architects here this morning, but I bet you know how Frank Gehry felt if he read any of those reviews. It’s frustrating when what you put so much work into doesn’t communicate what you want it to.
I want to think specifically about our spiritual life. After all, you’re here, which means you’re putting work into building your faith. So it’s worth asking: what exactly are we building? What is the goal of our faith?