Gehry's later work displays a curving complexity made possible by computer programs and other innovative design tools, many of which he and his team developed. While these metal-clad buildings have distinct similarities, they differ significantly in shape, proportion, materials, and relation to the sites they occupy. His most important and acclaimed building to date is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997), a large structure of voluptuous, swooping, organic forms covered in gleaming titanium steel that made him an international star. Gehry also used curving metal-covered walls in his Experience Music Project rock music museum in Seattle (2000). His design for the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (2003) at Bard College combines the characteristic billowing steel shapes at its facade with the unadorned concrete that forms the rear of the building. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (2003) has a matte-finish stainless steel facade comprised of several large upward-curving elements punctuated by a hinged glass-panel entry, and an interior clad in Douglas fir.
The architect returned to geometric forms in the computer-assisted complexity of his Stata Center (2004), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's computer-science building—a colorful, tilting conglomeration of towers, cubes, tubes, and cones in steel, aluminum, and brick whose open interior spaces are designed to promote encounters among its scientist inhabitants. Gehry's first completed New York City project, the InterActiveCorp headquarters in Manhattan (2006-07), is characterized by a façade of billowing white glass that glows with inner light. Another façade of swelling glass harmonizes with curving and spiraling wooden ramps and staircases in the interior of his 2008 renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Gehry's first project in his native Toronto. Gehry also designs furniture and other utilitarian objects as well as watches and jewelry. Prominent among his many professional honors are the Pritzker Prize (1989) and the first Gish Award (1994).
See K. W. Forster, Frank O. Gehry/Kurt W. Forster and M. Friedman, ed., Gehry Talks: Architecture + Process (both: 1999) and B. Isenberg, Conversations with Frank Gehry (2009); studies by R. H. Bletter et al. (1986), F. Dal Co et al. (1998), L. B. Chollet (2001), and E. da C. Meyer (2008); Sketches of Frank Gehry (documentary film, dir. by S. Pollack, 2006).
(born Feb. 28, 1929, Toronto, Ont., Can.) Canadian-born U.S architect. He studied at the University of Southern California and Harvard University. In his early buildings, his use of inexpensive materials (chain-link fencing, plywood, corrugated steel) gave many of his projects an unfinished, whimsical air. His structures are often characterized by unconventional or distorted shapes that have a sculptural, fragmented, or collagelike quality. In designing public buildings, he tends to cluster small units within a larger space rather than creating monolithic structures, thus emphasizing human scale. Of particular note is his Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (1991–97) in Spain, a shimmering pile of sharply twisting, curving shapes surfaced in titanium. Gehry won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1989.
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His best-known works include the titanium-covered Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles, Experience Music Project in Seattle, Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic, and his private residence in Santa Monica, California, which jump-started his career, lifting it from the status of "paper architecture," a phenomenon that many famous architects have experienced in their formative decades through experimentation almost exclusively on paper before receiving their first major commission in later years.
In 1947 Gehry moved to California, got a job driving a delivery truck, and studied at Los Angeles City College, eventually to graduate from the University of Southern California's School of Architecture.
After graduation from USC in 1954, he spent time away from the field of architecture in numerous other jobs, including service in the United States Army. He studied city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for a year, leaving before completing the program.
Still known as Frank Goldberg, he married Anita Snyder, who he claims was the one who told him to change his name, which he did, to Frank Gehry. Having divorced Snyder in the mid-1960s, he married Berta, his current wife, in the mid-1970s. He has two daughters from his first marriage, and two sons from his second marriage.
Having grown up in Canada, Gehry is a huge fan of hockey. He began a hockey league in his office, though he no longer plays with them. In 2004, he designed the trophy for the World Cup of Hockey.
The warped forms of Frank Gehry's structures are classified sometimes as being of the deconstructivist, or "DeCon" school of postmodernist architecture, whether or not he consciously holds such inclinations. Gehry himself disavows any association with the movement and claims no formal alliance to any particular architectural movement.
The DeCon movement stems from a series of discussions between French philosopher Jacques Derrida and architect Peter Eisenman in which they question the utility of commonly-accepted notions of structure alone in being able to define and communicate a meaning or truth about a creator's intended definition (a definition of space in architecture, for example), and counterposes our preconceived notions of structure with its undoing; the deconstruction of that very same preconception of space and structure. It is in this criticism or deconstruction of a given construct, in this case, a structure, that architecture finds its justification or its "place of presence."
In that sense, DeCon is often referred to as post-structuralist in nature for its ability to go beyond current modalities of structural definition. In architecture, its application tends to depart from modernism in its inherent criticism of culturally inherited givens such as societal goals and functional necessity. Because of this, unlike early modernist structures, DeCon structures are not required to reflect specific social or universal ideas, such as speed or universality of form, and they do not reflect a belief that form follows function. Gehry's own Santa Monica residence is a commonly cited example of deconstructivist architecture, as it was so drastically divorced from its original context, and, in such a manner, as to subvert its original spatial intention.
Gehry is sometimes associated with what is known as the "Los Angeles School," or the "Santa Monica School" of architecture. The appropriateness of this designation and the existence of such a school, however, remains controversial due to the lack of a unifying philosophy or theory. This designation stems from the Los Angeles area's producing a group of the most influential postmodern architects, including such notable Gehry contemporaries as Eric Owen Moss and Pritzker Prize-winner Thom Mayne of Morphosis, as well as the famous schools of architecture at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (co-founded by Thom Mayne), UCLA, and the USC.
Gehry's work has its detractors. Among the criticisms:
Seattle's EMP Museum represents an example of this phenomenon. Microsoft's Paul Allen chose Gehry as the architect of the urban structure to house his public collection of music history artifacts. While the result is undeniably unique, critical reaction came in the form of withering attacks. The bizarre color choices, the total disregard for architectural harmony with built and natural surroundings, and the mammoth scale led to accusations that Gehry had simply "got it wrong." Admirers of the building remind critics that similar attacks were leveled against the Eiffel Tower in the late 19th century, and that only historical perspective would allow a fair evaluation of the building's merits. However, practical criticisms have continued.
Gehry's works have also raised concerns about possible environmental hazards. According to the Los Angeles Times, Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles has "roasted the sidewalk to" "enough to melt plastic and cause serious sunburn to people standing on the street." Later computer modeling of the structure revealed that several surfaces were acting as parabolic mirrors, concentrating sunlight and heat into small areas on the pavement. The city paid for the offending panels to be sanded in order to reduce the glare. Gehry, commenting on the incident at a fundraiser, remarked:
According to CNN, Case Western Reserve University "takes precautions with Gehry's sloping roof" on its Weatherhead School of Management building:
Gehry's projects have also been criticized for ballooning budgets. The Gehry-designed building for Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University was originally planned to cost $25 million, then was raised to $40 million after Gehry was hired. The cost of the building eventually went up to more than $60 million. Kim Cameron, a former dean of the business school, quoted in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, said the complexity of the project led to rising construction costs. "Everyone expected people to line up to build a Frank Gehry building," Mr. Cameron said. "Instead, we got comments like the one we got from a steel contractor, who said, 'Look, we can build a bunch of square boxes and earn the same $20-million that it will cost to build your building. But we can do those in six months, and it will take two years to do your building.'
Recent criticism of Gehry suggests he is repeating himself. Critics claim the use of disjointed metal panoply (often titanium) that has become Gehry's trademark is overused, and that almost all of his recent work seems derivative of his landmark Bilbao Guggenheim. Defenders respond that these criticisms ignore the subtleties that have emerged as his style has progressed. Although many of his buildings have maintained the vocabulary of rolling metallic forms, they argue, specific forms have never been repeated, and that within this motif is incredible variety and innovation. Some say Gehry would find it difficult not to rehash Bilbao or Disney even if he wanted not to, because his "signature style" is so widely recognized that potential clients approach him expecting it. Gehry's defenders respond that this ignores the unprecedented amount of power Gehry holds in negotiations with clients, and the artistic integrity he must possess in order to achieve what he has. They argue that the similarities in his latest masterpieces are more akin to an artist fleshing out the frontier of a stylistic universe than a hack stamping out product for demanding clients.
Another criticism extends from the notion that Gehry's buildings ignore good urban design practice by turning their back on pedestrians (citing stark, limestone streetwalls of Disney Hall), and do not adequately respond to their physical context. It is interesting to note that Gehry is currently developing the urban design for a neighborhood in Downtown Los Angeles, under the working title Grand Avenue Project. Given the criticism he has faced regarding his lack of consideration for good urban design, it remains to be seen how he will approach this design, and how it will interact with the Disney Hall.
In academia, one of Gehry's most consistent critics is Hal Foster, an art critic who has taught art and art history at Princeton University and Cornell University. Foster feels that much of Gehry's acclaim has been the result of attention and spectacle surrounding the buildings, rather than from an objective view.
Don't call me a starchitect; Is there any future for extravagant, 'wow-factor' buildings? According to the world's most famous living architect there is - and he has a few more home truths for doubters. Michael Day gets an earful from Frank Gehry as a show in Milan's Triennale museum celebrates his illustrious career.(Life)
Jan 03, 2010; 'I don't know who invented that fucking word 'starchitect'. In fact a journalist invented it, I think. I am not a 'star-chitect',...