Frank Gehry

A Las Vegas Landmarkfrankgehry

In 2006, Keep Memory Alive Chairman and founder Larry Ruvo engaged acclaimed architect Frank Gehry to design a medical facility to treat brain disorders. From that beginning, an architectural icon took shape in the desert, its unique appearance and welcoming, light-filled atmosphere ensuring that Mr. Gehry had achieved his goal of creating something memorable.

“The mantra is ‘Keep Memory Alive,’ ’’ noted the 1989 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize for architecture. “I’m trying to make a building that people will want to visit, remember, talk about, enjoy and, ultimately, will want to partner with us at the center to help cure brain diseases.”

It’s Personal

This project wasn’t just another commission for Mr. Gehry. He has a personal connection to preserving brain health and memory. The wife and three brothers-in-law of Dr. Milton Wexler, Mr. Gehry’s longtime analyst and friend, were stricken with Huntington’s disease, a hereditary disorder that afflicts 50 percent of each generation in affected families. Today, Huntington’s disease is among the disorders studied and treated at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.

In Frank Gehry’s words, “What does the building mean? It symbolizes hope.”

Best of the Best

When a Frank Gehry exhibition opened at Le Centre Pompidou in Paris in October 2014, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas was selected for the cover of a special exhibit catalog. The choice was significant, given that Mr. Gehry’s many award-winning buildings across America, Europe, and Asia represent an architectural career spanning five decades.

Larry Ruvo attended the exhibition opening. “Driving through Paris and seeing the center on posters all over the city, along with the models, drawings and video of our building, confirmed what I had set out to do: Use Frank Gehry’s celebrity to help cure a disease. I’m proud he has allowed us to do so,” Mr. Ruvo says.

Just the Facts

The structure is a leader among other unconventional and world-renowned Gehry designs, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Here are a few numbers that document the uniqueness of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health:

  • 199 windows, none of them alike
  • 18,000 stainless steel shingles, each cut to unique measurements
  • 65,000 hours of engineering
  • 2 continents, 1 body of water and 1 desert: distance covered during transportation of building's components, which were fabricated in China and shipped to Las Vegas
  • 3 years, 3 months and 12 days: length of time from groundbreaking (Feb. 9, 2007) through official opening day (May 21, 2010)

Want a closer look? Download more fun facts about the building and take a virtual tour.