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Touring the Vitra Campus

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In addition to my tour of the Freitag factory in Zurich, a huge high point of my recent trip to Switzerland involved hopping over the border from Basel to 1 Charles-Eames-Strasse in Weil am Rhein, Germany, to see the Vitra Design Museum and Vitra campus. Since a fire did major damage to the buildings and factories on the Vitra campus in 1981, the company has taken rebuilding very seriously. Buildings by the likes of Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry, Tadao Ando, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and Herzog and de Meuron now dot the campus giving it the most starchitect for the buck that I've ever seen. Click on the slideshow above to get the tour.

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  Approaching the Design Museum one see's Frank Gehry's 1989 building in all its deconstructivist splendor.
    Approaching the Design Museum one see's Frank Gehry's 1989 building in all its deconstructivist splendor.
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  American design don George Nelson is the subject of the current exhibition at the Design Museum. I couldn't resist taking a photo with old George.
    American design don George Nelson is the subject of the current exhibition at the Design Museum. I couldn't resist taking a photo with old George.
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  Swiss superstars Herzog and De Meuron designed this still-being-built structure that will house showrooms when it's completed in March 2010.
    Swiss superstars Herzog and De Meuron designed this still-being-built structure that will house showrooms when it's completed in March 2010.
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  Sir Nicholas Grimshaw designed two industrial buildings for Vitra long before he got the Sir prefixed to his name. He was also tapped to do a master plan for the Vitra grounds, but the company opted in favor of diverging styles for its buildings.
    Sir Nicholas Grimshaw designed two industrial buildings for Vitra long before he got the Sir prefixed to his name. He was also tapped to do a master plan for the Vitra grounds, but the company opted in favor of diverging styles for its buildings.
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  This building by Frank Gehry houses another part of the design collection as well as the cafeteria and a charming Jean Prouvé dining room.
    This building by Frank Gehry houses another part of the design collection as well as the cafeteria and a charming Jean Prouvé dining room.
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  So as not to leave the architectural fireworks to contemporary designers, the Vitra campus boats an original Bucky dome by Buckminster Fuller and a small structure that used to be a gas station in the Ardennes forest by Jean Prouvé.
    So as not to leave the architectural fireworks to contemporary designers, the Vitra campus boats an original Bucky dome by Buckminster Fuller and a small structure that used to be a gas station in the Ardennes forest by Jean Prouvé.
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  We weren't allowed inside, but I snuck off to have a look at the Bucky dome when our guide was busy wrangling my tourmates.
    We weren't allowed inside, but I snuck off to have a look at the Bucky dome when our guide was busy wrangling my tourmates.
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  This clever bridge is not for pedestrians to walk upon, but underneath. It protects those going from the Grimshaw factory to the Álvaro Siza-designed brick building next door.
    This clever bridge is not for pedestrians to walk upon, but underneath. It protects those going from the Grimshaw factory to the Álvaro Siza-designed brick building next door.
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  Álvaro Siza's firehouse-inspired brick building is one of the humblest buildings at Vitra, though its rich color is unmatched.
    Álvaro Siza's firehouse-inspired brick building is one of the humblest buildings at Vitra, though its rich color is unmatched.
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  We didn't get to visit this new building by the Japanese firm SANAA as it's still under construction.
    We didn't get to visit this new building by the Japanese firm SANAA as it's still under construction.
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  Zaha Hadid's first constructed building is this one-time fire station on the Vitra campus. It now serves as an exhibition space.
    Zaha Hadid's first constructed building is this one-time fire station on the Vitra campus. It now serves as an exhibition space.
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  One of the first buildings on the Vitra grounds, this industrial structure's architect was flippantly identified by our guide as "Mr. Meyer Meuller." I later learned that this is German for Joe Schmoe.
    One of the first buildings on the Vitra grounds, this industrial structure's architect was flippantly identified by our guide as "Mr. Meyer Meuller." I later learned that this is German for Joe Schmoe.
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  The Eames' toy elephants which live outside one of the showrooms still haven't managed to escape their pen.
    The Eames' toy elephants which live outside one of the showrooms still haven't managed to escape their pen.
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  My love of Jean Prouvé's chairs and tables remains unabeyed. The are so beautifully contemporary yet look like the Titanic.
    My love of Jean Prouvé's chairs and tables remains unabeyed. The are so beautifully contemporary yet look like the Titanic.
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  I loved this image of another of Gehry's buildings on campus playing backdrop to a Vitra delivery truck. The darkening sky gives the whole affair a rather ominous look.
    I loved this image of another of Gehry's buildings on campus playing backdrop to a Vitra delivery truck. The darkening sky gives the whole affair a rather ominous look.
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  The sculpture ""Balancing Tools" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen consists of all you need to put together an Eames shell chair.
    The sculpture ""Balancing Tools" by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen consists of all you need to put together an Eames shell chair.
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  Tadao Ando's first building outside Japan is this conference center called the "House of Silence." It was perhaps my favorite building of the lot for its serene interiors.
    Tadao Ando's first building outside Japan is this conference center called the "House of Silence." It was perhaps my favorite building of the lot for its serene interiors.
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  This is the Design Museum by Gehry viewed from behind. It was his first building outside the US.
    This is the Design Museum by Gehry viewed from behind. It was his first building outside the US.
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  Lunch was very tasty at the cafeteria. I loved the mismatched chairs and wall of photos of celebs (like Miles Davis, Spike Lee and Ben Kingsley) in Vitra chairs.
    Lunch was very tasty at the cafeteria. I loved the mismatched chairs and wall of photos of celebs (like Miles Davis, Spike Lee and Ben Kingsley) in Vitra chairs.
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  The cafeteria staff take a late lunch under one of the most uttered phrases in the joint. A Nelson clock keeps time.
    The cafeteria staff take a late lunch under one of the most uttered phrases in the joint. A Nelson clock keeps time.
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  Even the bus stop outside the Vitra campus is by a design star: Englishman Jasper Morrison.
    Even the bus stop outside the Vitra campus is by a design star: Englishman Jasper Morrison.

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