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Frank Owen Gehry, (born Frank Owen Goldberg)

  Born   February 28, 1929 
  Nationality   USA
  Official website   www.foga.com

Frank O. Gehry, an iconoclastic architect, has been alternately praised and maligned for exploring the boundaries between architecture and sculpture. The sheer joy in his exuberant forms was never contested, and even his critics credited the work for bringing popular attention to the profession. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger wrote that Gehry’s “buildings are powerful essays in primal geometric form and ... materials, and from an aesthetic standpoint they are among the most profound and brilliant works of architecture of our time” (Goldberger, 1989).

Gehry’s small-scale work was marked by a skillful play of disparate volumes that were as carefully composed as a still-life arrangement. Among the strongest of these include his own
house (1978) in Santa Monica, California, and the Winton Guest House (1981) in Wyzata, Minnesota, which complemented an austere glass house designed by Philip Johnson in 1952, almost 30 years before. At their most successful, Gehry’s buildings create unusual spatial relationships. Gehry’s ability to integrate his organic building forms into difficult urban sites
was shown in many projects, most notably the Loyola Law School (first phase completed in 1982) in Los Angeles, California. Unafraid to use forms with metaphoric or figural associations, Gehry produced several whimsical buildings. In the headquarters (1991) for the Chiat/Day advertising firm in Venice, California, designed in collaboration with artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, a prominent pair of binoculars served as the entry below and conference rooms above. In the Nationale-Nederlanden Building (1996) in Prague, Czech Republic, nicknamed “Fred and Ginger,” a glass tower and a concrete mass appear to be dancing together. The Fishdance Restaurant (1987) in Kobe, Japan, features a 60-foot-high fish
sculpture. Gehry’s museums have been appreciated for their manipulation of light and highly developed interior spaces. Among these are the Aerospace Museum (1984) in Los Angeles; the Vitra Furniture and Design Museum (1989) in Weil-am-Rhein, Germany; and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum (1994) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (1997) in Bilbao, Spain, is considered masterful for its magical, undulating forms.

Although known as a quintessentially American architect, Canadian-born Gehry had his most spectacular successes in Europe. It was only later in his career that he completed high-profile commissions in the United States, namely, the Walt Disney Concert Hall (construction begun in 1992, halted, and restarted in 1999) in Los Angeles, Millennium Park (2000) in Chicago, and the Experience Music Project (2000) in Seattle, Washington.

In the 1970s Gehry gained the reputation of using inexpensive materials in an irreverent manner that established in part what was called “California style.” Loosely grouped under this heading were several younger architects, including Frank Isreal, Thom Mayne, Michael Rotundi, and Eric Owen Moss. Later, the dynamic collision of forms found in many Gehry buildings was sometimes mistakenly attributed to an affinity with the deconstructivist movement, although Gehry distanced himself from that school.

Gehry is more likely to cite visual artists as influences (such as Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi) than architects. He formed long-lasting collaborations with contemporaries Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, and Richard Serra. Also important to him were friendships with artists, including Kenny Price, Ed Moses, and Ron Davis (the client for the Davis House and Studio, 1972, in Malibu, California).

The remodeling of Gehry’s own house in Santa Monica brought him a great deal of attention and criticism for its formal and material originality. The house was a generic suburban bungalow that Gehry engulfed with a series of platonic and amorphous forms. Materials employed were a startling departure from “standard” residential language: chain-link fence became a scrimlike element to define volumes of space, wood framing was exposed, and galvanized metal and plywood were liberally used. The work was criticized for looking unfinished and arbitrary,
but proponents pointed to the spatial sophistication and the reinvention of crude materials that produced undeniably elegant results.

Chain link was used as a screen element in large-scale projects as well. The 300-foot-long wall of a commercial project, Santa Monica Place (1980) in Santa Monica, California, was made
from two layers of dense chain link with a super graphic applied to the outer layer. The Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (1979) in San Pedro, California, utilized chain link as a means to lace various buildings together. Another lowly material, plywood, figured prominently in many of Gehty’s interiors. Plywood was used for interior partitions, furniture, and large curved panels. A bold approach to these simple materials was shown in his design for the Temporary Contemporary (1983; later known as the Geffen Contemporary) in Los Angeles. Gehry renovated a vehicle warehouse building with a minimum of intervention and common materials to create a successful setting for contemporary art. Originally intended to be temporary, the building was so well received that it became a permanent venue for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, even after its permanent buildings, designed by Arata Isozaki was completed in 1986.

Less-common materials also found their way into Gehry’s hands. In a later residential work, the Winton Guest House, Gehry used precious materials such as copper, lead-coated copper, and stone. Each function was contained in separate volumes with their own spatial identity. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was clad with limestone and sheets of titanium. This rare metal was chosen for its muted reflectivity and variable colour. In all cases, the richness of the palette was generated by Gehry’s interest in the sensual qualities of materials, regardless of their origin of price tag.

Gehry’s reputation for creating skillfully integrated urban projects was established by the Loyola Law School campus. Given an eclectic neighborhood context, Gehry managed to form a coherent campus while maintaining the fabric of the community. Occupying an entire city block, the Acropolis-like complex was organized around a central plaza. A campanile and grand stair contributed to a classical vocabulary that was suited to the image of a law school, and the colourful stucco and irregular planning fit well into a contemporary California setting. Known
as a populist architect, Gehry was particularly concerned that people exist comfortably in the spaces that he created and that the buildings themselves contribute to the context and culture
of their sites.

The sculptural and metaphoric nature of Gehry’s work reached its height in his later buildings. The client for the Experience Music Project requested that the undulating forms be “swoopy,” an apt description for the finished building. Four curvilinear volumes—blue, gold, red, and brushed stainless steel—were grouped around a simply curved purple building. Built as a high-tech museum dedicated to popular music, Gehry attributed his inspiration for the building form to the twisted shape of rock and roll’s proverbial smashed guitar.
As Gehry’s commissions became larger and more complex, it became clear that his forms could not be feasibly constructed without unreasonable costs. To solve this, Gehry became an unlikely pioneer in the high-tech realm of computer-aided design and manufacture. His partner, James Glymph, worked with the French aerospace company Dassault to adapt the firm’s computer modeling software, called CATIA, for applications in building design. Using this and other software, Gehry’s office developed a methodology of working that used the computer in extremely effective ways. It is important to note that the introduction of the computer did nothing to change the essential nature of Gehry’s design process, which was heavily based on sketches and models. Models were scanned, manipulations were made, and subsequently new models were made from the computer data. When the final computer model was established, it became the database for all dimensions and coordinates on the building, significantly altering the typical construction documentation and shop drawing process. All subcontractors and manufacturers could use these data and add to them. The process that Gehry developed used the computer as a tool to capture, check, and communicate his formal ideas, not to generate them. This unique use of the computer garnered Frank Gehry and Associates credit for reasserting the idea of the “master architect” after decades of erosion in the profession’s scope of responsibilities. Widely praised for harnessing technology without being enslaved to it, Gehry’s forms became ever more daring as data from the computer models were more commonly accepted by the building trades.

Gehry was one of the first architects to explore rapid prototyping in the construction of custom buildings. Experiments were made in both the Nationale-Nederlanden Building (1999) in Prague and Der Neue Zollhof (1999), a trio of waterfront towers in Dusseldorf, Germany. Computer driven cutters were used to make foam shapes that could be inserted into formwork. Concrete panels could be precast in the forms, later to be mounted onto the structural frame. Gehry recognized the potential in using inexpensive automated processes to create highly individual forms.

Although theoreticians extensively cite him, Gehry remains more interested in the construction and inhabitation of his work than in its theoretical impact. Subsequent to the success of the Guggenheim Bilbao, attention by the popular press signaled Gehry as a celebrity architect whose name would bring brand recognition to a project. A flurry of large-scale projects followed the Guggenheim commission, ensuring his status as one of the most influential and prolific architects of the era.




28 Febtuary 1929 Born Ephraim Goldberg in Toronto, Ontario, Canada;

1947 family moved to Los Angeles;

1949-51 Studied architecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles;

1953-54 Architectural designer, Victor Gruca Associates, Los Angeles;

1954 bachelor's degree in architecture;

1955-56 Sceved, Special Services Division, United States Army;

1955-S6 planner and designer, Robert and Company Architects, Atlanta, Georgia;

1956-57 studied ciry planning,Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge,Massachusetts;

1957 designer and planner, Hideo Sasaki Associates, Boston, Massachusetts;

1957-58 architeerural designer, Pereira and Luckman, Los Angeles;

1958-61 planner, designer, Project director, Victor Gruen Associates, Los Angeles;

1961 project desiyner and planner, André Remonder, Paris;

1962 Principal, Frank O, Gehry and Associates, Los Angeles;

from 1972-73 Assistant professor, University of Southern California, Los Angeles;

1974 Fellow, American Instinute of Architects;

1977 and 1979 visiting critic, University of California, Los Angeles;

1979 William Bishop Professor, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut;

1982 Charlowe Davenport Professor of Architecture, Yule University;

1982, 1985, 1988, 1989 Eliot Noyes Professor, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetes;

1987 fellow, American Academy of Arts and Letters;

1989 crustec, American Academy, Rome;

1989 Priteker Prize;

1991 fellow, American Academy of Ars and Sciences.


Amell, Peter and ‘Ted Bickford (editors), Frank Gelry: Buildings and Projects, New York: Rizzoli International, 1985

Bletter, Rosemarie Haag, ct al., The Architecture of Frank Gehry, New York: Rizvoli International, 1986

“CATIA at Frank O, Gehry and Associates, Inc,” JAM Nena: Engineering Technology Solutions (October 1995)

Dal Co, Francesco and Kure W. Porser, Frame O. Gebry: The Complore Works, New York: Monacelli Pres, 1998

Friedman, Mildred §. (editor), Geévy Talk: Architecture + Process. New York: Rizvoli International, 1999

Futagawa, Yukio (editor), Franck Q. Gelory, Tokyo: A.D-A. Editor, 1993

Levene, Richard C. and Fernando Marquer Cecilia, Frint 0 Gelmy, Madrid: El Crnquis Bdicorial, 1990

Levene, Richard C, and Fernando Marquee Cecilia, Framt O, Gehry: 1991-1995, Madrid: El Croquis Edizorial. 1995

Tomkins, Calvin, “The Maverick,” The New Yorker (7 July 1997)











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