Frank Owen

born in 1929
Frank Owen Gehry (born Frank Owen Gehry, birth name is Efraim Owen Goldberg; born February 28, 1929, Toronto, Canada) - a world-famous Canadian-American architect and designer, a bright representative of deconstructivism.

Features of the work of Frank Gehry. A significant part of his work is examples of a deconstructivist style, whose aesthetics challenge the generally accepted design paradigms of architecture, violating the modernist ideal “form is determined by function”. Gehry is one of the many modern architects who adhere to this trend. It is famous for its architectural philosophy, and its buildings stand out, including their incomplete and crude aesthetics. This is achieved, inter alia, by the selection of unusual materials such as corrugated metal.

A persistent penchant for such a style made Frank Gehry one of the most easily recognizable designers of the present. The ability to undermine the viewer's expectations regarding traditional materials and forms gives reason to consider him a deconstructivist movement in architecture, but flirting with architectural traditions also connects the designer with postmodernism. However, critics of his work argue that the architect’s ideas do not take into account contextual problems and often use valuable urban space not in the best way.

Famous buildings of Frank Gehry. "Dancing House" in Prague,Solomon Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles,Vitra Design Museum in Vejle am Rhein (Germany).

early years

Frank Gehry's real name is Efraim Owen Goldberg. He was born on February 28, 1929 in Toronto, Canada, into a Polish-Jewish family. He began to show his creative thinking as a child, building imaginary houses and cities from objects found in his grandfather's hardware store. Such an interest in unconventional building materials can say a lot about the architectural tastes of Gehry.

In 1949, Frank Gehry moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California. It was then that he changed his last name Goldberg to Gehry to avoid anti-Semitic attacks. In 1956, a young man moved with his wife Anita Schneider to Massachusetts to study urban planning at Harvard Graduate School of Design. However, some time later, he left both Harvard and his wife, with whom he had two daughters. Many years later, in 1975, Gehry married Bert Isabelle Aguilera, who also bore him two children.

Having worked in several architectural firms, Frank Gehry founded in 1962 his own company Frank O. Gehry & Associates, the successor of which in 2002 became Gehry Partners.

Gehry began his design experiments in two popular lines of corrugated board furniture - Easy Edges (1969-73) and Experimental Edges (1979-82) - but he was more interested in building than designing furniture.

Dissatisfied, like many of his contemporaries, with the cold and often formal modernist buildings that began to flood many urban landscapes, Geri turned to searching for unusual expressive techniques and writing his own language. Perhaps the best example of an architect’s early experiments is his own home in Santa Monica, California. Gehry essentially “partitioned” the two-story building to the frame, and then built around it a frame made of netting and corrugated steel with asymmetric protrusions from a steel bar and glass. He adhered to all the architectural norms of a traditional bungalow - and this was a success. Avant-garde design attracted the attention of the architectural world and took the author's career to a new level.


Gehry’s popularity took off in the 1980s and 1990s, when he began to receive orders around the world, considering each new project as a “sculptural object, a space with light and air.” These works carried the imprint of deconstructivism, like the house in Santa Monica, but at the same time began to demonstrate greatness, more suitable for public buildings. Famous buildings of that period include the Vitra Design Museum (1987) in Vejle am Rhein, Germany, the American Center (1988-94) in Paris, and the Frederick Weisman Art Museum (1990-93) at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

The peak of Gary's career came at the end of the 1990s. By that time, his corporate identity was embodied in buildings resembling wave-like sculptures of free forms. The most striking example, perhaps, was the Guggenheim Museum (1991-97) in Spanish Bilbao. In it, the architect combined the cladding of titanium sheets with masses of limestone, which in itself can be called a feat of sculptural engineering.

In addition, Geri resorted to the construction of the building for the Experience Music Project in 1995 - 2000 (in 2016 the organization was renamed the Museum of Pop Culture) in Seattle. The design is a steel frame wrapped in non-ferrous metal sheets. According to Geri, when designing, he was inspired by the image of a broken electric guitar. As with the Guggenheim Museum, he used advanced computer technology to find engineering solutions that helped bring his sculptural designs to life.

In 2008, when reconstructing the Ontario Museum of Art in his native Toronto, Gehry retained the original 1918 building, but removed the artistically unsuccessful staircase added in the 1990s. And although the updated institution contains many characteristic features of an architect, critics called him “One of Frank Gehry’s most calm and restrained plans”.

The Museum of Pop Music is not the only "musical" project of the architect. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was widely recognized, which was designed before the Bilbao Museum, but was completed only in 2003. A year later, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion was completed at the Millennium Park in Chicago. Gehry also designed the Performing Arts Center at Bard College in New York and the New World Center (completed in 2011) for the New World Symphony Orchestra in Miami Beach, Florida.

In 2011, Gehry returned to his roots as a residential designer and introduced his first skyscraper, New York by Gehry in Lower Manhattan, and then the 12-story Opus Tower in Hong Kong.

Frank Gehry is known for his professionalism, he strictly adheres to the budget, despite the complexity and ambitiousness of his plans. The exception was the Walt Disney Concert Hall, whose construction cost more than $ 170 million more than planned and caused a major lawsuit.

Our days

In recent years, Gehry has been professor of architecture at Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of Southern California, and has been a board member at the USC School of Architecture, his alma mater. He is, among other things, a Pritzker Prize laureate (1989). This “architectural Oscar” is an annual award given to a living architect, “whose work demonstrates a combination of talent, vision and commitment” and who has “made a consistent and significant contribution to the development of mankind and construction through the art of architecture.”

Frank Gehry played himself in various television programs, including in the animated series The Simpsons, and also appeared in an advertisement for Apple. In 2005, director Sidney Pollack directed the Frank Gehry Outline documentary on the architect’s work and heritage.

Among the works of Geri in recent years - the new headquarters of Facebook in California and the project of the Guggenheim Museum in Abu Dhabi. He remains one of the leading contemporary architects in the world, and is often called the “starchitect”, which the master himself does not like. In an interview with the British newspaper The Independent in 2009, he explained: “I am not a hit-star, I am an ar-hit. There are those who design technically and financially unfit buildings, and there are those who do it well. Just two categories.

In 2016, American leader Barack Obama awarded Frank Gehry the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Author: Vlad Maslov
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