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Frank Owen Gehry

Gehry, Frank Owen (gĕrˈē) [key], 1929–, American architect, b. Toronto, Ont., as Frank Owen Goldberg. He is widely considered one of the finest and most artful of contemporary architects. In 1947, Gehry's family moved to Los Angeles, where he attended the Univ. of Southern California; he later studied at Harvard. He has been acclaimed for his original, sophisticated, adventurous, and very American buildings. Extremely varied and lively, his structures contrast space and materials; often jutting, unusual shapes are juxtaposed with simple geometric forms. In his earlier work these forms are expressed in a wide range of usual and unusual architectural materials (e.g., raw plywood, corrugated aluminum, and exposed pipe) that sometimes give these buildings a deliberately unfinished quality. Among his many important commissions are the Loyola Law School (1981–84), and the Team Disneyland Building (1995), Los Angeles; "Gehry's Fish" (1992), Barcelona; the Weisman Museum of Art (1993), Minneapolis, the first of his all metal-clad buildings; and the Cinémathèque Français (the former American Center. 1994), Paris.

Gehry's later work displays a curving complexity made possible by computer programs and other innovative design tools. While these metal-clad buildings have distinct similarities, they differ significantly in shape, proportion, materials, and relation to the sites they occupy. His most important and acclaimed building to date is the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain (1997), a large structure of voluptuous, swooping, organic forms covered in gleaming titanium steel. Gehry also used curving metal-covered walls in his Experience Music Project rock music museum in Seattle (2000). His design for the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts (2003) at Bard College combines the characteristic billowing steel shapes at its facade with the unadorned concrete that forms the rear of the building. The Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (2003) has a matte-finish stainless steel facade comprised of several large upward-curving elements punctuated by a hinged glass-panel entry, and an interior clad in Douglas fir.

The architect returned to geometric forms in the Stata Center (2004) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—a colorful, tilting conglomeration of shapes and materials whose open interior spaces were designed to promote encounters among its scientist inhabitants. Gehry's first completed New York City project, the InterActiveCorp headquarters in Manhattan (2006–7), is characterized by a façade of billowing white glass that glows with inner light. His New World Center (2011), a symphony hall in Miami Beach, has a shoebox-shaped white stucco exterior with a wall-of-windows façade; inside, irregular stacked forms a video-enhanced concert hall and rehearsal studios. His second New York City building, 8 Spruce St. (2011), is a residential skyscraper wrapped in stainless steel that is rippled on three of its four sides.Gehry also designs furniture and other utilitarian objects as well as watches and jewelry. Prominent among his many professional honors are the Pritzker Prize (1989) and the first Gish Award (1994).

See K. W. Forster, Frank O. Gehry/Kurt W. Forster and M. Friedman, ed., Gehry Talks: Architecture + Process (both: 1999) and B. Isenberg, Conversations with Frank Gehry (2009); studies by R. H. Bletter et al. (1986), F. Dal Co et al. (1998), L. B. Chollet (2001), and E. da C. Meyer (2008); Sketches of Frank Gehry (documentary film, dir. by S. Pollack, 2006).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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