Frank Gehry is a Canadian-American architect considered as one of the most prolific designers in recent times. The twisted, crumpled, and warped appearances of his structures have made his works instantly recognizable and famous all over the world. He has changed cities not only in appearance but also the lives of citizens through the financial prosperity cultivated by his revolutionary designs. Behind his extraordinary and mind-bending creations, here are the following facts:
1. Gehry’s real name is Frank Owen Goldberg.
- His father was an American of Russian Jewish descent, and his mother was a Canadian immigrant of Polish Jewish origin.
- The family moved to California when Gehry was in college. He changed his name to Frank O. Gehry due to the antisemitism he experienced in childhood.
2. He was interested in house design from a very young age.
- Gehry admired Frank Lloyd Wright, the founder of organic architecture who was recognized as “the greatest American architect of all time.”
- Young Gehry would create futuristic cities and houses using objects from his grandfather’s hardware store, particularly scraps of wood.
3. Frank Gehry launched his career using cardboard.
- Gehry created two lines of furniture known as Easy Edges and Experimental Edges. He shaped corrugated cardboard in innovative ways to create a wide variety of chairs, tables, and decorations.
- Using his profit from furniture design, he returned to his true love: house design. The avant-garde remodeling of his home set him on the road to celebrity status.
4. Gehry’s design is a rebellion against International Style architecture.
- His Postmodern and Deconstructivist style is a rejection of minimalism and an exploration beyond previously held tenets in architecture.
- However, he adopted the International Style preference for inexpensive man-made materials such as raw plywood, corrugated metal, and chain link. His exercise of “cheapscape architecture” has become one of the signatures of his works.
5. Many of Gehry’s large scale projects are world renown attractions.
- Thousands of tourists visit some of his greatest works which include the Dancing House in Prague, Museum on Pop Culture in Seattle, and Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain which revitalized the culture and economy of the city.
- A good number of Gehry’s famous buildings are dedicated music venues, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall, New World Centre, and Pritzker Music Pavilion.
6. He is a pop culture icon.
- Despite dislike for the term, he is referred to as a “starchitect” for his fame and contributions to architecture with its positive ripple effects. Ever since Guggenheim, other architects have attempted to reproduce the “Bilbao Effect” in other cities.
- Gehry plays the cartoon version of himself in The Simpsons, wherein he designs a concert hall for Springfield. The design was inspired by a piece of paper he crumpled.
Apart from creating an indelible mark on the contemporary cityscape, Frank Gehry has rekindled excitement and interest in architecture among practitioners and admirers alike. His intrinsic uniqueness and creativity has made him “the most important architect of our age”.