Wednesday, March 24, 2010 | 12:28 p.m.
Dressed casually in a black leather jacket, black T-shirt and blue corduroys, Frank Gehry, one of the world's most celebrated and controversial architects, strolls into the most sculptural room of his Las Vegas building, the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
The cascading windows, rolling to the floor in unison with the flowing and white ceiling and walls create an almost chapel-like feeling in the sunlit room.
Even with a documentary media crew, it is an intimate and emotional moment. The area, which will be used as an events center, is near completion and Gehry had yet to see it at this stage.
Gehry turns to Larry Ruvo, the man who founded the center in memory of his father who died in 1994 of Alzheimer's, and tells him that it takes his breath away. Then Gehry walks the room in the natural light provided by the 199 windows, looks up at his work and talks quietly with Ruvo. Also present with Gehry and his wife, Berta Isabel Aguilera, are Ruvo's wife, Camille, Mayor Oscar Goodman, artist Peter Alexander and Libby Lumpkin, who is the center's art curator. There are smiles, back patting, tears from Ruvo, nods and even a thumbs up from Gehry to one his architects, Brian Zamora.
"We knew it would be a happy moment, "Lumpkin says. "It's one of Frank's best interiors ever. We feel it is a landmark in his career. It has more of a spiritual quality than any of us expected, including Frank."
Ruvo commissioned Gehry to design the building in February 2006. The center broke ground one year later. Its medical institute was completed in July 2009 and this spacious, but intimate room, known as the Life Activity Center will be available for use as of May 1. Grand opening festivities in the center are planned for the end of May.
After viewing the activity center from various entrances, Gehry sits in a chair, looks at the unfinished floor and jokes, "Can we clean the floor a little?"
— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com