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Sunday, July 31, 2011

In The Spotlight - Architect Frank O. Gehry

Frank O. Gehry

Frank O. Gehry came to my attention while I was researching the Hotel Marques de Riscal and he quickly became a favorite of mine as I began to explore his incredibly impressive body of work. It prompted me to want to bring together a little information about him and a collection of his projects on a single page rather than spread over multiple articles and ...

... thus was born the "In The Spotlight" which will be an occasional feature of this website going forward. If you take a look at any of the multitude of pictorial lists on the web of notable and/or strange buildings around the world you are sure to find Gehry represented multiple times. His list of works is long and includes many iconic buildings that have since become tourist attractions including the Guggenheim Museum [Bilbao, Spain] the Walt Disney Concert Hall [Los Angeles, California}, the Novartis Pharma A.G. Campus [Basel, Switzerland] and the Dancing House [Prague, Czech Republic].

8 Spruce Street, New York, NY, USABorn in 1928 Gehry is a Pritzker Prize winning architect working out of Los Angeles, California. His buildings often include the use of flowing curves and metal claddings that add a surreal touch and differentiate them from other, more conventional, designs. Having said that Gehry by no means restricts himself to one theme; take a look at the Venice Park Beach house in the Gallery and you will see what I mean. Though somewhat bizarre one of the things Gehry lists among his influences is fish. That's right - fish. The motif is used not only in his buildings but appears in other product lines created by Gehry including a jewelry line and several sculptures. The PBS website "American Masters" hosts the following Gehry quote on the subject:

"It was by accident that I got into the fish image. My colleagues were starting to replay Greek temples. Y'know in the post-modern thing, I don't know, when was that... the 80s. That was hot, everybody was re-doing the past. I said, y'know, Greek temples are anthropomorphic. And three hundred million years before man was fish. If you wanna, if you gotta go back, if you're insecure about going forward, dammit, go back three hundred million years. Why are you stopping at the Greeks? So I started drawing fish in my sketchbook. and then I started to realize that there was something in it."

Gehry's importance to the world of architecture is clear and has been recognized in the number of significant awards he has received over the years. Amongst them are the Pritzker Prize for Architecture [1989], the National Medal of Arts [1998], the AIA Gold Medal [1999] and the Woodrow Wilson Award for public service from the Smithsonian in 2004. More recently, and perhaps a little more down to earth, Gehry was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2006. In addition to the impact of his body of work on the field of architecture Gehry has also made his mark by gaining a reputation for bringing projects in on time and on budget; something that is not as common as people would like in the construction world and even less so in the field of innovative and novel architecture that Gehry works in. As yet another recognition of his status 2005 saw film veteran Sidney Pollack [1934-2008] create a documentary about Gehry, "Sketches of Frank Gehry."

The dancing Building, PragueGehry is a prolific academically as he is in the architecture industry. He is a Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and also teaches at Yale. In addition he has held numerous other prestigious academic posts over the years and holds in excess of 10 honorary doctorates.

Although much awarded and highly regarded in the architectural world Gehry is not without his critics who have contended that his work is often all about corporate branding, that it often does not fit in with its surroundings and that his work often includes functionless frills. Perhaps that is true but to me his work is just very very cool. I have pulled together a Gallery of many of his projects here. Please note that not all of his works are represented; it is not meant to be an exhaustive list but it does include the majority along with all of the most significant designs. If you think one is missing that would fit that category please use the contact form and let me know. Over time many of these will no doubt generate articles in their own right on this site but for now the Gallery showcases what an incredible architect Frank O. Gehry is.

For the record the two images here are 8 Spruce Street [Originally the Beekman Tower] and the Dancing House. For location and attribution see the Gallery.

The American Institute Of Architects
The Pritzker Architecture Prize
California Hall Of Fame
National Medal Of Arts

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