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If you like Frank Gehry's story, you might also like:
J. Carter Brown,
Dale Chihuly,
Philip Johnson,
Maya Lin,
James Rosenquist
Vincent Scully and
Wayne Thiebaud

Frank Gehry also appears in the video:
Art and Architecture: Freedom of Expression and Form

Related Links:
The Pritzker Prize
Gehry Partners

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Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry
Profile of Frank Gehry Biography of Frank Gehry Interview with Frank Gehry Frank Gehry Photo Gallery

Frank Gehry Interview

Award-Winning Architect

June 3, 1995
Williamsburg, Virginia

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  Frank Gehry

What first made you think of being an architect? What attracted you to this field?

Frank Gehry: My grandmother played with me on the floor with blocks when I was eight years old in Canada, and she got cuttings for her wood stove from the shop. They were like bandsaw and jigsaw cuttings, and they were odd shapes, and we used to play, make fantasy cities. Grandmother! So it was like a license from an adult to play, creative play.

Anyway, I didn't remember that until I was struggling and struggling with what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was a truck driver in L.A., going to City College, and I tried radio announcing, which I wasn't very good at.

I tried chemical engineering, which I wasn't very good at and didn't like, and then I remembered. You know, somehow I just started racking my brain about, "What do I like?" Where was I? What made me excited? And I remembered art, that I loved going to museums and I loved looking at paintings, loved listening to music. Those things came from my mother, who took me to concerts and museums. I remembered Grandma and the blocks, and just on a hunch, I tried some architecture classes.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

Once you tried the architecture classes, did you take to it right away?

Frank Gehry: At first I didn't do great. In fact, I flunked the first class in perspective drawing, and it really got me angry. So I went back the next semester and took it and got an A, and then I had an architecture drafting class, which the teacher and I got along real well. He was an architect. At the same time, I was taking classes at USC, summer classes in ceramics and art, drawing, art design, and the ceramics teacher -- Glen Lukens at the time -- was having a house designed by Raphael Soriano, and Glen somehow looked at me and said, "I just have another hunch." He said, "I would like you to meet Soriano," and I did, and I watched how Soriano -- a guy with a black suit and a black tie and a beret, you know -- I mean, he was a really funny guy. But there was something about it that excited me, maybe the drama of it, maybe the theater of it, and he knew what he was doing. He was very Miesian. He did very stark things, and that all excited me. Based on Glen's recommendation, I took a class at night in architectural design, and I did really well. I was skipped into second year.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

What school was this?

Frank Gehry: USC. That was the only architecture school at that time.

I couldn't afford it, but I made enough scholarships for architect school. Somehow I worked and got through. Then once I got in it, I was off to the races, except the first half of the second year, my teacher came in and called me in and said, "This isn't for you. You're not going to make it," and somehow I worked through that. And that guy works at the airport. I see him every once in a while, the teacher. I mean, he acknowledges his mistake, of course, but it's -- I mean, I just sort of kept going. It was dogged persistence once I got into it.

[ Key to Success ] Perseverance

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This page last revised on Sep 21, 2010 20:58 EDT
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