Born 1929, Canada
Practised in America
Studied at the Los Angeles City College, University of Southern California’s School of Architecture
Frank Gehry, born as Frank Owen Goldberg, was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1929, to parents Irving Goldberg and Sadie Thelma. His father was born in New York to Russian Jewish parents and his mother was a Polish Jewish immigrant.
Gehry grew up in a highly creative environment, with a father who taught him how to draw, a mother who educated him on the world of art, and a grandmother who encouraged him to explore his inherent creativity. It was with the scraps from his grandfather’s hardware store that Gehry had his first taste of architecture, spending many Saturday mornings constructing buildings and cities in miniature on the living room floor.
In 1947, his family emigrated to the United States and settled in California. Here Gehry’s tertiary education began, where he held a variety of jobs while studying at Los Angeles City College, and eventually graduated from the University of Southern California with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1954. Upon graduation, he changed his surname from Goldberg to Gehry, in part because of the antisemitism he had experienced as a child and as an undergraduate at USC.
In 1956, Gehry and his family moved to Cambridge Massachusetts where he studied city planning at Harvard Graduate School of Design; a course which was so disappointing that he didn’t even complete it.
Less than a year after moving to Massachusetts, Gehry chose to return to Los Angeles, working for Victor Gruen Associates, a company to which he had been an apprentice during his years at USC. In 1957, he was given his first opportunity to design a private residence, and from here his career as an architect began. In 1961 Gehry moved briefly to Paris, working for architect Andre Remondet.
In 1962, Gehry established his own practice based in Los Angeles, which became Frank Gehry and Associates in 1967, and Gehry Partners in 2001. It was only once Gehry established his own company that he began to get commissions and his career really took off. Among his earliest commissions were a number of innovative commercial structures such as the Santa Monica Palace (1980) and residential building such as the eccentric Norton House (1984). Some other notable buildings of Gehry during the 1980’s are the Cabrillo Marine aquarium (1981) in San Pedro and the California Aerospace Museum (1984) at the California Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles, and the renovation of his own house in 1977, in which he still resides.
Gehry also dabbled in furniture design. The “Easy Edges” range of furniture was constructed out of cardboard and was produced from 1969 to 1973. It was an overnight success and included the famous Wiggle side chair. However, he was more interested in designing buildings than furniture, and chose to shy away from furniture design, lest it detract from his architectural ambitions.
In 1989 Gehry was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize, cited by the jury as “always open to experimentation, he has well a sureness and maturity that resists, in the same way that Picasso did, being bound either by critical acceptance or his successes. His buildings are juxtaposed collages of spaces and materials that make users appreciative of both the theatre and the back-stage, simultaneously revealed.”
Gehry continued to design other notable building in California but began to receive international commissions as well. The first one was for an International Furniture Manufacturing Facility and Design Museum (1989) in Germany, which was soon followed by the Frederick Weisman Museum of Art (1993) in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Cinematheque Francaise (1994) in Paris and Dancing House (1996) Prague.
In 1997, Gehry achieved international acclaim for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain, which was referred to as a “masterpiece of the twentieth century”, and “the greatest building of our time” by legendary architect Philip Johnson. At this point, Gehry had established himself as a notable architect world-wide, and some of his best received works after this point in his career were several concerts halls for classical music, notably the Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) in downtown Los Angeles, the open air Jay Pritzker Pavilion (2004) in Chicago, and the New World Centre (2011) in Miami Beach.
Gehry also found himself somewhat unexpectedly inspired by fish, incorporating them prominently into a range of lamps known as the “Fish Lamps”, produced between 1984 and 1986. The fish become a notable motif in Gehry’s work, most notably the Fish Sculpture at La Vila Olimpica del Poblenou (1989 – 1992) in Barcelona, Spain, and the Standing Glass Fish (1986) for the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Gehry is known for his unconventional use of materials and his designs often have a crude or unfinished aesthetic. His work displays a kind of deconstructivism; reflecting the spirit of experimentation while simultaneously meeting the demands of functionality. This consistency makes Gehry’s work distinctive and recognizable.
In recent years, he taught as a professor at the University of Southern California, Columbia University, the University of Toronto, Harvard University, the Federal Institute of Technology, and Yale University.
He is one of the most celebrated architects of our time.
- 1957 David Cabin – build with Greg Walsh, owned by Mathew and Mary Norris, Idyllwild, California
- 1963 Kliene Residence – Bel Air, California
- 1970 Park West Apartments – Irvine, California
- 1972 Ronald Davis Studio & Residence – Malibu, California
- 1974 Exhibit Centre, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Rouse Company Headquarters, and Fire Station – Maryland, Columbia
- 1975 Concord Pavilion – originally the Chronicle Pavilion, it has also been called the Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, California
- 1977 Harper House – Baltimore, Maryland
- 1978 Gehry Residence – Frank Gehry’s home, Santa Monica, California
- 1978 – 2002 Loyola Law School (various building) – Los Angeles, California
- 1980 Santa Monica Place – Santa Monica, California
- 1981 Cabrillo Marine Aquarium – San Pedro, California
- 1984 Norton House – Venice, California
- 1984 – 1986 Sirmai-Peterson House – Thousand Oaks, California
- 1984 Edgemar Retail Complex – Santa Monica, California
- 1984 California Aerospace Museum, California Museum of Science and Industry – Los Angeles, California
- 1985 – Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library – Hollywood, California
- 1986 – 1989 Rockwell and Marna Schnabel House – Bentwood, California
- 1986 Information and Computer Science/Engineering Research Facility – University of California, Irvine, California
- 1987 – 1989 Herman Miller factory – Rocklin, California
- 1987 Winton Guest house – Owatonna, Minnesota
- 1989 Virta Design Museum – Weil am Rhein, Germany
- 1989 Yale Psychiatric Institute – Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
- 1990 Rockwell Engineering Centre and McDonnel Douglas Engineering Auditorium – University of California, Irvine, California
- 1991 Artists’ Studio – Santa Monica, California
- 1991 Chiat/Day Building – Venice, California
- 1992 Olympic Fish – Olympic Village, Barcelona, Spain
- 1992 Disney Village – Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallée, France
- 1992 Iowa Advanced Technology Laboratories – University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa
- 1993 Centre for Visual Arts – Toledo, Ohio
- 1993 Frederick Weisman Museum of Art – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- 1994 Siedlung Goldstein – Frankfurt, Germany
- 1994 Vitra International Headquarters – Basel, Switzerland
- 1994 Cinematheque Francaise – Paris, France
- 1995 Team Disney – Anaheim, California
- 1995 Anaheim Ice – Anaheim, California
- 1995 Energie Forum Innovation – Bad Oeynhausen, Germany
- 1996 Dancing House – Prague, Czech Republic
- 1997 Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – Bilbao, Spain
- 1999 University of Cincinnati Academic Health Centre – University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio
- 1999 Der Neue Zollhof – Dusseldorf, Germany
- 2000 – Museum of Pop Culture – Seattle, Washington
- 2000 – DZ Bank building – Pariser Platz, Berlin, Germany
- 2000 Conde Nast Publishing Headquarters Cafeteria – Times Square, New York, New York
- 2001 Issey Miyake flagship store – Manhattan, New York
- 2001 Gehry Tower – Hanover, Germany
- 2002 Weatherhead School of Management Peter B. Lewis building – Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
- 2003 Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, California
- 2003 Maggie’s Dundee, Ninewells Hospital – Dundee, Scotland
- 2003 Richard B. Fisher Centre for the Performing Arts – Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
- 2004 Jay Pritzker Pavilion – Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
- 2004 Ray and Maria Stata Centre – Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts
- 2005 IAC West coast headquarters – West Hollywood, California
- 2005 BP Pedestrian Bridge – Millennium Park, Chicago, Illinois
- 2005 360 Newbury Street – renovated luxury condominiums, Boston, Massachusetts
- 2006 Marques de Riscal Vineyard Hotel – Elciego, Spain
- 2007 Mariza Show Stage at the Walt Disney
- Concert Hall – Los Angeles, California
- 2007 IAC Building – Chelsea, Manhattan, New York
- 2008 Serpentine Gallery 2008 Summer Pavilion – London, England
- 2008 Peter B. Lewis Library – Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
- 2008 Art Gallery of Ontario – Toronto, Ontario
- 2009 Danish Cancer Counselling Centre
- 2009 Novartis Pharma A.G. Campus – Basel, Switzerland
- 2010 Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art – Biloxi, Mississippi
- 2010 Lou Ruvo Centre for Brain Health – Las Vegas, Nevada
- 2011 Opus Hong Kong – Hong Kong, Hong Kong
- 2011 New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street – Manhattan, New York
- 2011 New World Centre – Miami Beach, Florida
- 2012 Duplex Residence – New Orleans, Louisiana
- 2012 Pershing Square Signature Centre – Manhattan, New York
- 2013 Maggie’s Hong Kong – Hong Kong
- 2014 Dr Chau Chak Wing Building – University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
- 2014 Louis Vuitton Foundation for Creation – Paris, France
- 2014 Biomuseo – Panama City, Panama
- 2015 Facebook West Campus – Menlo Park, California
- 2017 Frank Gehry Residence – Santa Monica, California
- 2017 Pierre Boulez Concert Hall – Berlin, Germany
- 2018 Michael Eisner Residence – Basalt, Colorado