It’s not often the case that architects grow to become household names. But Frank Gehry has never lived by any common practice. The award-winning architect has spent more than a half-century disrupting the very meaning of design within architecture. A man with seemingly no limits, there is no bad time to celebrate Frank Gehry‘s oeuvre.
Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California
Frank Gehry was shortlisted to devise a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1988; the project, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, finally opened in 2003. Today critics and the public agree that the iconic building was worth the wait. Reflecting Gehry’s longtime passion for sailing, the structure’s exterior features expanses of stainless steel that billow above Grand Avenue, while inside, similarly shaped panels of Douglas fir line the auditorium.
Neuer Zollhof, Dusseldorf, Germany
Frank Gehry’s Neuer Zollhof complex spurred the transformation of Dusseldorf, Germany’s waterfront into what is now called the Media Harbour in 1999. The popularity of the trio of office buildings yielded nearby commissions for other prominent architects like Fumihiko Maki and Murphy/Jahn and earned the three towers a spot in the German edition of Monopoly.
Chiat/Day Complex, Venice, California
The 1991 Venice, California, complex that Gehry built for advertising agency Chiat/Day commonly goes by the nickname Binoculars Building, thanks to the enormous pair of binoculars that mark the entrance to a parking garage—a collaboration between Frank Gehry and artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Office structures resembling a ship’s prow and tree trunks flank the sculpture, which now welcomes 500 Google employees to work every day.
Olympic Fish Pavilion, Barcelona, Spain
The monumental golden steel-mesh fish sculpture Frank Gehry created for the 1992 Olympic Village in Barcelona represented a technological breakthrough for the architect’s studio, which used three-dimensional aeronautical-design software to realize the concept.
Dancing House, Prague, Czech Republic
The Prague offices of the Dutch insurance company Nationale-Nederlanden is also known as Fred and Ginger, thanks to its signature pair of towers, which seem to resemble a couple dancing. The 1996 building, comprising a cinched volume of metal mesh and glass and a concrete cylinder, was a collaboration between Frank Gehry and local architect Vlado Miluníc.
Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain
The Guggenheim’s satellite in Bilbao, Spain, multiplied the museum’s exhibition space in a mountain of stone, glass, and titanium that follows the contours of the Nervión river. Design and construction of the Guggenheim Bilbao went largely unnoticed in the press, so the building’s 1997 opening produced an explosion of publicity, securing Frank Gehry’s place as a master among architects and jolting the Bilbao economy.
EMP Museum, Seattle, Washington
At the base of the Space Needle, Gehry framed the EMP Museum to look as if its steel-and-aluminium skin is flapping in the wake of Seattle’s famous monorail. The EMP Museum is the brainchild of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and, upon its completion in 2000, was inaugurated as the Experience Music Project. Frank Gehry’s first model of the museum was built from sliced-up guitars.
Art Gallery of Ontario (renovation), Toronto, Canada
Born in Toronto in 1929, Gehry celebrated his first Canadian project there, a renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario, just a few months shy of turning 80. The 1918 museum had already undergone expansion three times prior to the Frank Gehry commission. In response, the architect reorganized the jumbled plan and inserted a variety of energetic and subdued volumes for additional exhibition space.
Cinémathèque Française, Paris, France
Frank Gehry’s building along Paris’s rue de Bercy opened in 1994 as the headquarters of the American Center of Paris but closed a year and a half later. In 2005 it became home to the Cinémathèque Française, a theatre and archive of film history.
Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion, London, England
In 2008, Frank Gehry designed the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion in London for the popular modern and contemporary art exhibition. The structure, which consisted of four wood-clad steel columns that were being supported by a series of large timber planks and beams, was part-amphitheatre, part-promenade. The temporary exhibit also featured sheets of transparent glass as a roof to shelter the promenade.
Maggie’s Centre, Dundee, Scotland
Located on the grounds of National Health Service hospitals across Great Britain, Maggie’s Centres are support facilities for cancer patients, designed by renowned architects and operated according to principles devised by its founder, its cofounder, the landscape architect Maggie Keswick Jencks. Frank Gehry completed the first new-build Maggie’s Centre in 2003.
Biomuseo, Panama City, Panama
In the late 1990s, Panamanian leaders, hoping to produce their own “Bilbao Effect,” began speaking with Gehry about designing an ecology museum. But it wasn’t until 2013 that the project was finally realized. The newly opened Biomuseo marks Panama City’s Amador Causeway with a colourfully crumpled roofline, held in place by what appears to be an oversize billboard structure. Revealing underlying armature is a traditional Frank Gehry trope, but his uncharacteristic choice of reds, greens, and other bold hues is a direct nod to Panama’s diverse flora and fauna.
Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France
Commissioned by LVMH chief Bernard Arnault and completed in 2014, Frank Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton is set in Paris’s Bois de Boulogne park. The shiplike exterior includes 12 glass “sails,” which cover the concrete-clad gallery spaces.
Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, Sydney, Australia
The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney Business School, which opened in 2015, is Frank Gehry’s first project in Australia. The undulating brick building includes a number of sustainability features throughout its 11 floors.
Marqués de Riscal, Elciego, Spain
The Marqués de Riscal, built in 2006, was Gehry’s first completed hotel. The luxury lodging is located in a small town known for its vineyards and wineries. Much like how Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum Bilbao rejuvenated that Spanish city, Marqués de Riscal has brought more tourists to this region of the country.
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