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The Fondation Louis Vuitton (FLV), designed by Frank Gehry, may appear transparent, but it is a building that doesn’t easily give up its secrets. Encountering it for the first time—huge and billowing, as if the vast, curving glass sails that wrap the exterior are tilting into the wind—is amazing and a little confounding. Without a surrounding cityscape against which to gauge the scale of this surprise of a building, it looms above the leafy treetops of the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris as if it were a garden folly made for giants.
Paris resists change, and this unusual project sparked controversy along the way, not least because it was a large, privately built structure planned within the city’s beloved 2,000-acre public park. The client, Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of the consortium of luxury companies LVMH Moët Hennessey-Louis Vuitton, acquired the concession to the 50-acre Jardin d’Acclimatation, inside the northern edge of the Bois, as part of a business deal, and was allowed to create a museum there, on the footprint of a defunct bowling alley. […]