Frank Gehry, architect. To historians, he may be known as that 'other Frank' who designed the 'other Guggenheim', but today, he's the most consistently fresh architect we've got (we, meaning the world). Sure, to some, his works are just too... out there. A disciple of Bauhaus Gehry is not. Ol' Frank likes to have a little fun. This freshness and fun translates to pure gaudiness to some... but, don't we all now love the works of the original gaudy one?

Gehry is considered a 'deconstructionist' - fair enough. The Guggenheim at Bilbao, Spain, possibly his masterstroke so far, is certainly deconstructionist, with the easily viewable shape of a seagoing ship broken up into zoomy silver planes. It makes you feel like you're headed out on a voyage, and I'm told that it's wonderfully functional inside. But look at some of his other buildings. What exactly is he deconstructing? All those twisted boxes and warped windows, caved-in cylinders wrapped in corrugated aluminum. They're cool, they're functional... they're from someplace totally foreign to us bores. Gehry really isn't a deconstructionist, unless if he is deconstructing his own imagination.

And that's what (to me) Gehry is all about - imagination. And fun. Lots and lots of fun. Check out his cheap lines of furniture (well, cheap to make... can he help it if his name recognition boosts up the price?) Squiggles abound. Put that stuff in your living room, and it's like the party never stops. His commision for the offices of the innovating, far-seeing ad agency Chiat/Day has a front facade of... binoculars. Heck, this is the guy who's built buildings shaped (very realistically) like a fish on a hook. For a sushi bar, of course.

I'll agree that Gehry doesn't seem very deconstructionist. Some of his early works, like his Gehry house are obviously influenced by deconstructive philosophy. But what Gehry seems to have is an intimate and unique feel for materials. Rather than merely accepting sheets of metal as flat sheets, or beams as straight beams, he pushes the limits of his materials. When he makes chairs he crumples the metal to create ergonomic forms. His buildings look less like buildings but more like living organisms, a characteristic that puts it in sharp contrast with its relatively demure surroundings.

On a CBS Sunday morning show on this date, there was an extended interview with Frank Gehry. First off, Gehry is not his last name. He changed his name because of his own experience as a second generation Jewish immigrant.

Second, unlike Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect who he is often compared to, he is quite shy and humble. He seemed uncomfortable with the fame his work has brought to him and often has negative things to say about his own buildings, if he comments at all.

Third, this is an artist who sees structures and spaces in a way few have every done. He perceives all modern architecture to be "at odds" with older work, and so extrapolates that to the extreme. He also finds inspiration in other art forms: citing the Dutch artist Vermeer and the movie idols Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. He fashioned a flowing, fabric like roof after seeing a painting that captured the feel of folded linen and he designed an office building in Prague that mirrors a couple dancing close together, with what appears to be one side folding into the other.

When asked how computer generated blueprints and design had changed his work, he laughed.

"I don't have any idea how any of that works"

sources:CBS news-Sunday morning -7/28/02
frank-gehry.com

Frank O. Gehry is the latest and most prominent brand name in architecture. He has made a career out of curvy forms derived from tortured boxes and, after the Bilbao Guggenheim, glimmering polished surfaces. His buildings embody "because I can"; tremendously expensive, inevitably leaky buildings with interior spaces as alienating afterthoughts. They're lauded for their visual movement, yet it's a fake movement, like a dead duck that's been carefully stuffed, mounted, and posed to look frozen in flight. They lack the lasting beauty that comes from careful thought and consideration of design, like the best work of Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Peter Zumthor, and Hiroshi Hara. "God is in the details," and Gehry's buildings have none. They're all flash and no substance: they gain merit in the eyes of the press because they're shiny and different, both of which are poor reasons for a building to exist. Gehry is the "safe choice" for high profile university halls, museums, and signature buildings the world over; a starchitect to be agreed upon.

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