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Frank Gehry, Cleveland Clinic team up to create a new Las Vegas facility

Tuesday, April 6, 2010; HE05

Talk about the changing face of health care: Architect Frank Gehry stands in front of his most recent creation, the $100 million Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas -- a research and treatment facility for such neurological disorders as Alzheimer's, Huntington's, Parkinson's and ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease). The warped and fluid stainless steel exterior has 199 wildly angled windows.

In February 2006, alcohol distributor Larry Ruvo commissioned Gehry -- whose world-famous structures include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles -- to design a building in memory of his father, Lou Ruvo, who had died of Alzheimer's disease 12 years earlier. At the time, southern Nevada did not have a neurocognitive care center, so the Ruvos had to commute to California for treatment.

"Frank Gehry allowed me to do what I wanted to do," Larry Ruvo said, "and that is to use his celebrity to help find a cure for a disease."

Officials at Cleveland Clinic noted that cognitive disorders are becoming more common as Americans live longer.

"New discoveries and emerging science tell us that cognitive disorders can be identified earlier than previously believed and potentially altered," said Michael T. Modic, chairman of the Cleveland Clinic Neurological Institute. "Our hope is to bring together world-class clinicians and researchers to advance our understanding . . . and provide the best care possible."

Touring the site of the medical center last month, Gehry said the building wasn't "blah, blah, blah bland."

"I like the way it fits. I wasn't trying to compete with the chaos around it," he told the Associated Press. "I mean, some people may think it's over the top. I don't think so."

-- Charity Brown

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