Bard College’s ribbon of steel

Sometimes a turn on a road not previously taken can lead to amazing sights.

And so it is on the north side of Bard College in the hamlet of Annandale-on-Hudson made famous by two alums who collectively went by the name Steely Dan that you’ll find the impressive Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts.

Its own steely presence made more so on a sunny, cloudless day, the center was designed by architect Frank Gehry, whose undulating works include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the colorful Experience Music Project in Seattle and the sky-scraping New York by Gehry apartment building in Lower Manhattan.

The Fisher Center, which opened in April 2003, took three years to build and cost $62 million. And despite its imposing (107,000 square feet) size, the center does not burn any fossil fuels, according to the school. Geothermal heat pumps furnish heat and air conditioning.

Its skeleton is made hard by 1,030 tons of both conventional and curved steel.

As for its skin, there are 5,647 stainless-steel shingles.

Gehry and his partner in his architectural firm, Craig Webb, described the performing arts center as such:

“The front façade of the building can be interpreted as a theatrical mask that covers the raw face of the performance space. Its abstract forms prepare the visitor to be receptive to experiencing the performances that occur within. In passing through the doors of the building, entering into the building’s lobby and settling into its theaters, audience members go through a series of transforming experiences that prepare them for the performance about to begin.”

The curves, the drops, the passivity of movement:  The center is a rhapsody in this meadow next to Tivoli Bays.

Venture up the hill to the right of the building and what do you see?

Isn’t it a rabbit at rest?

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