Frank Gehry is considered to be “the most important architect of our era.”
The young artist, born Frank Owen Goldberg, was encouraged by his grandmother with whom he built little cities out of scraps of wood. His use of corrugated steel, chain link fencing, and other materials was inspired by his grandfather’s hardware store. His mother introduced him to the world of art and he spent time drawing with his father. “But my father thought I was a dreamer…” Gehry said, “It was my mother who thought I was just reticent to do things. She would push me.”
Gehry moved to California in 1947. He got a job driving a delivery truck, and studied at Los Angeles City College, eventually to graduate from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture. After graduation from USC in 1954, he spent time away from the field of architecture in numerous other jobs, including service in the United States Army. He even studied city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for a year.
Gehry rejected the commonly held architectural ideas that form should follow function or that buildings should somehow reflect their environment. He was considered a “paper architect” until he designed his own home in Santa Monica, California. His intention was to “build a new house around the old and try to maintain a tension between the two.” The home, which is now a Los Angeles tourist attraction, jump-started his career. He achieved real fame years later when he unveiled The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Since then, he has earned countless urban commissions including his latest masterpiece, the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
In addition to architecture, Gehry has made lines of furniture, jewelry, various household items, and sculptures. He designed the trophy for the World Cup of Hockey. His company, Gehry Technologies, was responsible for innovation in architectural software. Gehry also teaches advanced design studios at the Yale School of Architecture and he is a Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Columbia University.
Frank Gehry lives in Santa Monica, California, and continues to practice out of Los Angeles. You can find him online at foga.com.
Portrait drawn by yours truly.