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Frank Gehry

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This booklet describes the pocess of one of the greatest Architects of our time.

Text of Frank Gehry

  • GEHRY

    Je! GrotheWWU IDFall 2012

  • 0501

  • BEINGFRANKIf you have an interest in architecture or have done much traveling at all, chances are you have heard the name Frank Gehry. With landmark buildings in over 40 major cities, Gehry has made a pretty good name for himself. Vanity Fair even labeled him the most important architect of our age. As with all successful designers, however, it was a long road to getting there. So just how did Frank Gehry achieve such great and groundbreaking heights? The answer can be found in Gehrys history, process, and inspirations, as well as in the way that he works, both in his mind and in his studio, as well as with his clients and co-workers.

    Frank Gehry studied architecture at the University of Southern California, and after a year in the military studied for a year at Harvard. He became an apprentice in architecture firms in Los Angeles and later in Paris, learning the new modern style of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus. Gehry found a creative outlet in building his own house out of recycled materials. After a revelation he decided to follow his artistic heart, and his works in the Los Angeles area soon attracted international attention.

    02

  • Gehrys process is more of a long evolution than a sudden revelation. An average of 6 main models are built for each project out of paper, wood, foam, and metal, and are constantly tweaked and reworked. Functional and design problems are both met until all is satisfied.

    About his process, Gehry explains, In the first sketch I put a bunch of principles down. Then I become self-critical of those images and those principles, and they evoke the next set of responses. And as each piece unfolds, I make the models bigger, bringing into focus more elements and more pieces of the puzzle. And once I have the beginning, a toehold into where Im going, then I want to examine the parts in more detail. And those evolve, and at some point I stop, because thats it. I dont come to a conclusion, but I think theres a certain reality of pressures to get the thing done that I accept. Its a maturity, or whatever you want to call it, to say, stop, go, finish. Ive got other ideas now, and the door is open for the next move, but its not going to happen on this building, its going to happen on the next one.

    Gehrys process starts with visiting the site and starting to sketch. He familiarizes himself with the site, scales up the existing components, searches for form in the natural slopes, and focuses on an interaction with the surrounding scenery. In the early stages, mapping out, the process of distributing basic features while getting to know the site, takes precedence over other aesthetic design considerations. Gehry sketches often, but his style is more like scratching. Its just the way I draw when Im thinking, exclaims Gehry. I think that way. Im just moving the pen. Im thinking about what Im doing, but Im sort of not thinking about my hands.

    He also views the sketching process as trying to pull the forms out of the paper. Im looking through the paper to try to pull out the formal idea; its like somebody drowning in the paper, He states. Gehry succeeds in combining the conscious with the unconscious by combining schematic planning and studying of the site with semi-automatic sketching. After this step, rough models are made as an exercise to get into scale, and then more sketching and modeling are done.

    THEPROCESS

    Im looking through the paper to try to pull out the formal idea; its like somebody drowning in the paper

    AboveGehrys preliminarysketch of the GuggenheimMuseum in Bilbao, Spain

    RightGehry stares at a modelof a new building design for Facebook Inc.

    03

  • If you have an interest in architecture or have done much traveling at all, chances are you have heard the name Frank Gehry. With landmark buildings in over 40 major cities, Gehry has made a pretty good name for himself. Vanity Fair even labeled him the most important architect of our age. As with all successful designers, however, it was a long road to getting there. So just how did Frank Gehry achieve such great and groundbreaking heights? The answer can be found in Gehrys history, process, and inspirations, as well as in the way that he works, both in his mind and in his studio, as well as with his clients and co-workers.

    Frank Gehry studied architecture at the University of Southern California, and after a year in the military studied for a year at Harvard. He became an apprentice in architecture firms in Los Angeles and later in Paris, learning the new modern style of Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus. Gehry found a creative outlet in building his own house out of recycled materials. After a revelation he decided to follow his artistic heart, and his works in the Los Angeles area soon attracted international attention.

    04

  • 05

    Gehrys process starts with visiting the site and starting to sketch. He familiarizes himself with the site, scales up the existing components, searches for form in the natural slopes, and focuses on an interaction with the surrounding scenery. In the early stages, mapping out, the process of distributing basic features while getting to know the site, takes precedence over other aesthetic design considerations. Gehry sketches often, but his style is more like scratching. Its just the way I draw when Im thinking, exclaims Gehry. I think that way. Im just moving the pen. Im thinking about what Im doing, but Im sort of not thinking about my hands.

    He also views the sketching process as trying to pull the forms out of the paper. Im looking through the paper to try to pull out the formal idea; its like somebody drowning in the paper, He states. Gehry succeeds in combining the conscious with the unconscious by combining schematic planning and studying of the site with semi-automatic sketching. After this step, rough models are made as an exercise to get into scale, and then more sketching and modeling are done.

  • In order to understand many of Frank Gehrys works, it is helpful to look at his many inspirations. Gehry often takes inspiration from natural and animate forms. He is most famous for using fish shapes in his works, but he also looks to leaves, snakes, boats, and wind-blown sails. These help him achieve a flow and freedom in his work. Gehry also gains much inspiration from the art world. Paintings such as Giovanni Bellinis, The Madonna and Child, inspire a similar hierarchy and composition in many of the buildings he designs.

    STEPPINGOUT

    Painting and sculpture influence my work, says Gehry. For instance, when I had the Bellini picture of the Madonna and Child, I originally thought of it as the Madonna-and-Child strategy for architecture. You see a lot of big buildings with a lot of little buildings, little pavilions in front. I attribute the Madonna and Child composition. Gehry also lists fabrics, sculptures, and philosophers such as Proust as inspirations.

    06

    Potentially the most fascinating aspect of Gehrys career, at least to the fellow designer, is how he is able to put so much self-expression and art into his architecture while still keeping his clients happy, staying fairly within budget, and having functional structures. Many times the designer comes into a clash between his or her style and the wants of the client or consumer, never quite achieving what feels like their maximum potential or desire for the project. We work for people, exclaims Gehry, this makes for great dilemmas in creativity. The project has to work, and it has to be on budget.

    Most of the time the fear from this causes designers to hold back, but this has not been true for Gehrys work, and for him this risk is well worth the reward. He states, For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did, and I get the sweats, I go in and start working, Im not sure where Im going. Gehry has fears and doubts, but has learned over time to work though them in order to achieve what is envisioned. Gehry is never that fond of his work right after it is finished, however, and has often stated that works such as the Disney opera house and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao embarrassed him at first.

    Another piece of advise that Frank Gehry gives is to collaborate, to work with other designers. Its like jazz, you improvise, you play off each other, he states. Working with others will push you and will make your designs that much better.

    Constantly evolving and improving designs, following the vision, pushing through insecurities, and playing off fellow designers; that is how you be Frank.Left

    The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

    TopGiovanni BellinisThe Madonna and Child

    We work for people, exclaims Gehry, this makes for great dilemmas in creativity.

  • Works cited

    Bruggen, Coosje Van., and Frank Owen Gehry. Frank O. Gehry: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. New York: Solomon R. Guggen-

    heim Foundation, 1999. Print.

    "Frank Gehry Asks "Then What?"" TED: Ideas worth Spreading. TED Conferences, LLC, 28 Jan. 2002. Web. 10 Sept. 2012.

    .

    "Frank O. Gehry." Academy of Achievement. Ed. Hugh Esten. American Academy of Achievement, 7 July 2010. Web. 24 Sept.

    2012. .

    Friedman, Mildred S., Michael Sorkin, and Frank O. Gehry. Gehry Talks: Architecture + Process. New York: Rizzoli, 1999. Print.

    Guasch, Ana Mara., and Joseba Zulaika. Learning from the Bilbao Guggenheim. Reno, NV: Center for Basque Studies, University of

    Nevada, Reno, 2005. Print.

    Je!rey D. Grothe, author