Frank Gehry's Fred and Ginger Building 1997, Prague, Czech Republic
A revolution led by written word (and architecture).
The late Czech leader and galvanizing visionary, Vaclav Havel led the peaceful uprising Prague spring and 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989. Mr. Havel, with wit and poetics of word, stirred discontent through the foundations of Charter 77, a human rights watch group that brought attention to the abuses of perverse power, corruption and other atrocities under communist oppression. His imprisonments fed his frustrations further and inspired revolutionary ideas and words which would propel a people to freedom in 1989 and into the early 90's as he was elected Czechoslovakia's first democratic leader.
It was during his time as President of the newly formed Czech Republic (after the split with Slovakia) that Prague emerged in the eyes of the world as a city unparalleled in a well preserved, cross-section of historical identity through time. The rebirth of ideology (and the city itself) was perhaps exemplified in a new architectural project to be situated adjacent an apartment building designed by Mr. Vaclav's grandfather in 1907- and a place Mr. Havel once lived. Having secured the rising star in Frank Gehry back in the early 1990's, the design of the 'Fred and Ginger Building', on this prominent river front site, represented a fresh start for the fledgling democratic country. If there ever was an architecture embodying political change it is here along the Vltava River in Prague, instigated by none other than Mr. Havel himself.
Mr. Havel can be credited with with both preservation and progress in Prague and in the Czech Republic. Absolved of militarism, with pen in hand, creatively writing social change.
He will be remembered.