The Life & Work of Frank Gehry
Posted on 22 November 2016
Born in 1929, Canadian–American architect Frank Gehry is a leading figure of the Deconstructivist Movement, rejecting the idea that “form follows function.” He is among the most acclaimed architects of the 20th century, and is known for his use of bold, postmodern shapes and unusual fabrications.
Gehry relocated from his birth town of Toronto, Canada to Los Angeles in 1949, holding a variety of jobs while attending college. After graduating he spent time away from the field of architecture and served in the United States Army. He would eventually graduate from the University of Southern California's School of Architecture. It was during his time there that he changed his surname from Goldberg to Gehry, in an effort to preclude anti-Semitism.
Gehry was creative at a young age, building imaginary homes and cities from items found in his grandfather's hardware store. This interest in unconventional building materials would come to characterise Gehry's architectural work.
Gehry originally made a name for himself in the furniture industry with the launch of his "Easy Edges" cardboard furniture line. Using the money he earned from his business, he re-modeled his family home into his vision. His avant-garde design caught the attention of the architectural world, ultimately launching his career to new heights.
As Gehry achieved celebrity status, his work began to take on a grander scale and he went on to design some of the most iconic buildings in the world.
On the riverside of Bilbao, Spain, the Guggenheim Museum shimmers with warm light reflected from the water. The design has been described as “totally independent of any school of architecture from history,” being more reminiscent of a sculpture than a building. The metallic planes are serene and undulate like the ripples and waves below.
The Walt Disney Concert Hall, home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra, was built as a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts and his love of the city. The original design had a stone exterior, but, due to a limited budget, this was later changed to the steel cladding which has since become synonymous with Gehry’s style.
Completed in 2014, the Dr Chau Chak Wing at the University of Technology, Sydney, is one of Gehry’s most recent additions to the world of architecture. The exterior of the building is interspersed with modern elements such as great glass shards that interrupt the smooth flow of the site and geometric windows that pierce the curvaceous walls.
Gehry continues to be one of the world's leading contemporary architects, and due to his celebrity status, he has been referred to as a "starchitect"—a label that Gehry rejects. In a 2009 interview with The Independent, he explained why he dislikes the term: "I am not a 'star-chitect', I am an ar-chitect," he said. "There are people who design buildings that are not technically and financially good, and there are those who do. Two categories, simple."