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Rx for Living
September 2000

Let Nancilee Show You
"How to Thrive from 9 to 5"

by Nancilee Wydra

"The New Guggenheim"

I love Frank O. Gehry. Ever since I was part of New York’s interior design scene in the 1960s when he fancifully conceived and produced his laminated cardboard chairs, I have worshipped his panache and daring. It didn’t matter to me that these designs were at the time spurned by buyers, yet only ten years later elevated to Museum of Modern Art status. Popular or not, he has been on the top on my list of most admired designers/architects. It is with this in mind that I now feel compelled to write a feng shui critique of his proposal for the "new" Guggenheim Museum of Art in lower Manhattan.

Feng shui is about how people experience place. Through feng shui we come to know specifically how a place attracts us, gives us information and elevates the human relationship to the experience. Whereas public places like churches, government buildings and grand palaces clearly communicate their importance over human beings, homes invite, coddle and cocoon their inhabitants to feel secure, protected and esteemed. In a home, an individual’s aesthetic taste is ensconced in privacy and individualized space is prepared to accommodate personal needs.

A building should be in harmony with its surroundings as well as the catalyst to promote the right relationships between the idea of the habitat and the people who will fill it. Gehry’s proposed structure would be a glaring anomaly against its backdrop, the City. It almost declares the demise of structure and of the human memory of place and elevates deconstructionism and laughs at form and line of structures that stay upright, not to mention our cultural history.

The structure denies memory of place, a concept first coined in an early architectural text. Memory of place is necessary for us to feel comfortable in an environment and should encompass our cultural and psychological expectations. Gazing at this chaotic model, one becomes confused as to its interior passages, the relationship of floors to walls and the flow in general. It is the antithesis of Frank Lloyd Wright’s present Guggenheim Museum built in the form of a spiral like the configuration of our genetic heritage, DNA, that is imprinted in our basic biology and builds an experience from there. Perhaps you could say Wright’s choice is subtle, elusive and not experientially common, but in Gehry’s proposal there is no organic reference whatsoever. In fact, to me it referenced an imploding building.

Architecture is not first and foremost a tribute to technical engineering feats and visual enigmas. Rather, its fundamental responsibility is to elevate and resonate with positive or important human experiences. If architecture is the vehicle that describes the soul of a time, then this structure instills grave concern about our future.

Nancilee Wydra is the most published American author on feng shui. Her last two books are "Feng Shui Goes to the Office" March 2000 and "Feng Shui for Children's Spaces," November 2000. She teaches nationwide professional certification classes (www.windwater.com) and has a free Website with 100 answers to the most frequently asked feng shui questions, (www.EfengshuiUSA.com). She can be reached at 1-888-488-FSIA


Read Nancilee's Current "RX for Living" Column


Nancilee's August 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's July 2000 "RX for Living" Column

Nancilee's June 2000 "RX for Living" Column


Read Nancilee's Feature Articles at SoulfulLiving.com:

How Can You Uncover Another's Authentic Self?

Creating a Soulful Garden

Spring, When the World Wakes Up

What is the Size of Your Soul?


Some of Nancilee's Book Titles:

Visit Nancilee Wydra at:



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