A comemorative of some of the most inspirational buildings designed by the honorable Frank Gehry.
When the other products of a culture have faded from human memory, it is the works of architecture that remain to define an era for successive generations. As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, it was hard to dispute that the definitive architect of the age was Frank Gehry, Canadian by birth, a resident of Los Angeles by choice. He first drew notice in his adopted city with works deploying commonplace industrial materials in unexpected ways, but he came to international prominence with works which exploded the geometry of traditional archi-tecture to create a dramatic new form of ex-pression. He deployed cutting-edge computer
technology to realize shapes and forms of hith-erto unimaginable complexity, such as the star-tling irregularities of his Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, or the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In these monumental buildings, the uninhibited whimsy of his pencil sketches took shape in powerful structures of gleaming titanium. From Switzerland to Japan, from Santa Monica to Prague, his buildings have trans-formed human expectations of the designed space. Once mocked for their astonishing origi-nality, his buildings have become the signature structures of the challenging times we live in.
Vitra Design Museum
Walt Disney Concert Hall
Marqués de Riscal Hotel
New York by Gehry
Inspiring the Future
originality at its finest
Hotel Marques de Riscal in the Rioja wine
region of Elciego, Spain
originality at its finest
Above: Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.
Left: The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, along the Nervión River in downtown Bilbao, Spain.
Right: The Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic.
Much of Gehry’s work falls within the style of Deconstructivism, which 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 criti-cism of culturally inherited givens such as soci-etal goals and functional necessity. Because of this, unlike early modernist structures, Decon-structivist 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 style at times seems unfinished or even crude, but his work is consistent with the California ‘funk’ art movement in the 1960s and early 1970s, which featured the use of in-expensive found objects and non-traditional media such as clay to make serious art. Gehry has been called “the apostle of chain-link fenc-ing and corrugated metal siding”. However, a retrospective exhibit at New York’s Whitney Museum in 1988 revealed that he is also a sophisticated classical artist, who knows Euro-pean art history and contemporary sculpture and painting.
gehry residenCe 1977
gehry residenCe 1977 Quite plainly, the Gehry Residence is a suburban house totally unconcerned with tra-ditionally pleasing aesthetics. As soon as it was completed in 1978 reactions ranged from hagi-ography to anathema. Over time, critical reac-tions mirrored the role the house would play in the larger canon of contemporary architecture. A 1979 review by New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger, Hon. AIA, recognized the house as an extremely successful provoca-tion—if not much more. He called the Gehry Residence the most significant new house in Southern California in years, admiring its central conceptual con-ceit: an old house wrapped in jagged panels of corrugated metal, creating a new band of patio-like indoor/outdoor space on three sides. Windows were inflated into small skylight atriums, canted and distorted into sculptural expressions of transparent mass. A thoroughly collaged composition, plywood and (most infa-mously) chain-link fence punctuate the house’s rough-hewn exterior. Inside the added indoor/outdoor space, the floor was asphalt, and the now-interior wall was still the original painted (salmon-pink) siding. Throughout the interior, Goldberger ap-preciated the abundance of natural light and the exposed wood beams Gehry revealed after he gutted the original house, which commu-nicate a sense of structural honesty not often associated with his work.
Vitra design MUseUM1989
The Museum opened on November 3, 1989, and pictures of Frank O. Gehry’s uncon-ventional building - his first work in Europe - circled the globe. Today, the Vitra Design Museum is inter-nationally active as a cultural institution that has made a major contribution to the research and popular dissemination of design. The Mu-seum presents a broad spectrum of topics on design and culture, with a special emphasis on furniture and interior design. Its activities en-compass the production of exhibitions, work-shops, publications, and museum products,
and the maintenance of an extensive collection, an archive, and a research library. The travelling exhibitions of the Vitra Design Museum are shown at renowned partner institutions around the world. With regard to its independence and range of topics, the Vitra Design Museum is com-parable to a public museum. From a financial standpoint, however, it is largely self-sufficient. Its partnership with the Vitra corporation con-sists of a basic annual supplement to the Mu-seum budget, the use of Vitra architecture, and organisational co-operation.
Well before the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened its doors to the public on Oc-tober 19, 1997, the new museum was making news. The numerous artists, architects, jour-nalists, politicians, filmmakers, and historians that visited the building site in the mere four years of its construction anticipated the suc-cess of the venture. Frank Gehry’s limestone, glass, and titanium building was hailed by ar-chitect Philip Johnson as “the greatest building of our time” and the pioneering collaboration between the Solomon R. Guggenheim Founda-tion and Basque authorities was seen to chal-lenge assumptions about art museum collecting and programming. Located on the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao is the fourth largest city in Spain, one of the country’s most important ports, and a center for manu-facturing, shipping, and commerce. In the late 1980s the Basque authorities embarked on an
gUggenheiM MUseUM bilbao
ambitious redevelopment program for the city. By 1991, with new designs for an airport, a subway system, and a footbridge, among other important projects by major international ar-chitects such as Norman Foster, Santiago Ca-latrava, and Arata Isozaki, the city planned to build a first-class cultural facility. In April and May of 1991 at the invitation of the Basque Government and the Diputación Foral de Bi-zkaia, Thomas Krens, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, met repeatedly with officials, signing a preliminary agreement to bring a new Guggenheim Museum to Bilbao. An architectural competition led to the selection of California-based architect Gehry, known for his use of unorthodox materials and inventive forms, and his sensitivity to the urban environment. Gehry’s proposal for the site on the Nervion River ultimately included features that embrace both the identity of the
Guggenheim Museum and its new home in the Basque Country. The building’s glass atrium refers to the famous rotunda of Frank Lloyd Wright’s New York Guggenheim, and its larg-est gallery is traversed by Bilbao’s Puente de La Salve, a vehicular bridge serving as one of the main gateways to the city. In 1992 Juan Ignacio Vidarte, now Director General of the Guggen-heim Bilbao, was formally appointed to oversee the development of the project and to supervise the construction. Groundbreaking took place in 1993 and in 1997 a gala dinner and recep-tion, attended by an international audience and Spain’s Queen Sofia and King Juan Carlos I, celebrated the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
gUggenheiM MUseUM bilbao
Walt disney ConCert hall
Walt Disney Concert Hall, home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was designed to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world, providing both visual and aural intimacy for an unparalleled musical experience. Through the vision and generosity of Lil-lian Disney, the Disney family, and many other individual and corporate donors, the city enjoys
one of the finest concert halls in the world, as well as an internationally recognized architec-tural landmark. From the stainless steel curves of its strik-ing exterior to the state-of-the-art acoustics of the hardwood-paneled main auditorium, the 3.6-acre complex embodies the unique energy and creative spirit of the city of Los Angeles and its orchestra.
MarqUés de risCal Vineyard hotel
Before Frank Gehry’s titanium-coifed bou-tique hotel arrived in the village of Elciego, at the heart of Spain’s wine-growing La Rioja region, the town already had a landmark: the majestic 16th-century church, presiding over a picturesque valley. But while the church’s paired towers shine as local highlights, Gehry’s building is more of an international beacon, commissioned by the local Marqués de Riscal Winery to promote the growing international interest in Spanish wine. Set beside a stream at the edge of town, Marqués de Riscal is one of the region’s oldest and largest wineries, with buildings dating to 1853. According to Edwin Chan, Gehry’s de-sign partner on the project, the client was ini-tially interested in a “chateau for the 21st cen-tury, a kind of bed-and-breakfast for VIPs,” as part of an overall modernization of its facilities. The project eventually grew to 27,000 square feet to include 43 guest rooms (14 junior suites in the main building and 29 rooms or suites in an annex, all managed by an international luxury chain), a wine-therapy spa, and a restau-rant run by a local Michelin-starred chef. The hotel’s site within the winery’s com-pound was challenging. Set behind the historic stone factories and backed by a steep hill, the
new building does not nestle into the vineyards; instead, it stands over a paved plaza that covers a new bottle cave (accessible by direct elevators from the hotel). Gehry’s structure rises on three stone piers to capture views and assert its sculp-tural presence. Views of the town and valley successively unfold as you ascend from the glazed lobby, with its wine bar and terrace, to the 14 junior suites on the next floor, the restaurant with its ample terraces above it, and the guest lounge with more terraces at the top. Seemingly ca-sual stacks of rectangular volumes, clad in pale sandstone like the masonry of the church and village, house the interior spaces. Floor-to-ceiling wood-framed windows, many jutting from the corners of the volumes, peek out amid flowing rolls of mirror-finish stainless steel and pale gold-and-pink-colored titanium (hues inspired, the architects say, by the gold-mesh wrapper, silver cap, and purple contents of the company’s bottles, and produced by passing ti-tanium through an electric current in an acid bath). Exposed steel structures support these metal sheets, forming a capricious shading lay-er—a cascading succession of canopies—over the stone.
MarqUés de risCal Vineyard hotel
At 870 feet tall, New York by Gehry is the tallest residential tower in the Western Hemi-sphere and a singular addition to the iconic Manhattan skyline. For his first residential commission in New York City, master archi-tect Frank Gehry has reinterpreted the design language of the classic Manhattan high-rise with undulating waves of stainless steel that reflect the changing light, transforming the ap-pearance of the building throughout the day. Gehry’s distinctive aesthetic is carried across the interior residential and amenity spaces with custom furnishings and installations.
Gehry’s innovative tower design has re-sulted in over 200 unique floor plans that bring the drama of the dynamic exterior wall move-ment into residents’ private spaces. Where the façade undulates, the residential windows also move into the apex of the folds, creating free-form bay windows that are fitted with seating or left open to accommodate dining or reading niches. All interior finishes and fixtures have been selected by Gehry, including cabinetry crafted in his signature honey-colored vertical grain Douglas Fir.
neW yorkby gehry
In addition, Gehry designed the sculptural residential entry door handles and hardware, which are inspired by organic forms and move-ment. All residences are finished with white oak flooring, fitted with solar shades that pro-vide privacy while preserving views, and offer individual washer/dryer units. Building-wide features include water filtration, individually controlled vertical heating and cooling units, and large picture windows throughout to maximize views.
Across years of architecture design, Frank Gehry has become one of the most well renown and respected men in the business. As he continues to take on projects and designs well into his 80’s, Gehry makes an even larger mark on the landscapes around the world today. After completing breath taking projects on all ends of the globe, many young architects look up to Gehry, while there still remains critics of his work as there would with any profession. Overall, the nations that have been blessed with structures by his design, will forever keep him in their memories and inspiration for years.