Much of architecture, both new and old, is ideas recycled and built-upon. Old styles made new or taking bits and pieces of one style and adding it to another to make something new. But in the end, most architecture looks like a building. Perhaps then, you can grasp just how extraordinary it is for an architect to design buildings that look like no other man-made structure that has ever been seen. Frank Gehry’s more than just an architect; he’s a visionary.
And a visionary with a whole heckuva lot of style. Here’s a bulleted history:
- Born Frank Owen Goldberg on February 28, 1929. Though it’s not documented, it’s rumored even his blocks he built with were organic and innovative.
- In 1947 Gehry did three different but life-changing things: moved to California, got a job driving a delivery truck and went to Los Angeles City College.
- He got married for the first time in 1952 to a lovely lady named Anita Snyder, who, in an ultimate example of the wife’s always right, convinced him to change his name to Frank Gehry. They had two daughters.
- He graduates from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture in 1954. At some point he studies city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for a year, but doesn’t finish the program.
- Divorces Snyder in 1966.
- Is elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1974.
- Marries Berta Isabel Aguilera, his current wife, in 1975. They have two sons.
- Is awarded the extraordinarily prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1989.
- Wins the AIA Gold Medal in 1999
Work of note:
- Gehry Residence 1978
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium 1981
- Venice Beach House 1986
- Vitra Design Museum 1989
- Dancing House 1995
- Guggenheim Museum Bilbao 1997
- Gehry Tower 2001
- Walt Disney Concert Hall 2003
- Novartis Pharma A.G. Campus 2009
- New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street 2011
Many refer to Frank Gehry’s work as deconstructivism, because it doesn’t really fall into any current definition of a structure, and how it tends to depart from the ideas of modernism. His work doesn’t reflect social ideas or try to prove universal truths. For Gehry, form most certainly does not follow function. Many people point to his Santa Monica home as the ultimate example of Gehry’s decontructivism; after Gehry was through with it, it showed no hint of its previous form or shape. His work doesn’t really let you know what the structure’s spatial intentions are, and that can be quite unnerving.
Another indicator of Gehry architecture is his use of materials; the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a great example. It’s silver and shiny and arresting, and many believe that Gehry gets his inspiration from fish, of all things. Not just interested in them biologically as cool creatures, he has been quoted before as disdaining his colleagues’ work that often emulated Greek temples and architecture, citing that long before there were humans there were fish.
If you’re lucky enough to have a chance to be anywhere near a Gehry building, we highly recommend a visit! It’s one thing to see how shocking and different and structurally-altering his architecture is from a photograph, but to get to experience his work from the inside can only be described as life-altering. Of course, you don’t have to trek to a building somewhere to enjoy Gehry’s signature style and form. Through the fabulous brand Heller, Frank Gehry created a collection of home goods that fit his style and will fit yours. The best part? 2MODERN TOTALLY SELLS THEM! Check out Frank Gehry on 2Modern: