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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 (page: 2 / 7)

Award-Winning Architect

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  Frank Gehry

What was the turn-on for you? How would you describe it to somebody who doesn't know that much about architecture? What makes it exciting for you?

Frank Gehry: What got me excited in the beginning were the social issues. I come from a very lefty liberal family in Canada, and architecture looked like it was the panacea. You could make housing for the poor and make wonderful cities, city planning in the future and so on. That was the initial turn-on. That lasted me all the way through school, actually.

[ Key to Success ] Vision

When I got out of school I hit the brick wall. You can't do any of that. It doesn't exist. You can't do it. There are no clients for social housing in America. There is no program, no nothing. City planning? Forget it. It's a kind of bureaucratic nonsense. It has nothing to do with ideas. It only has to do with real estate and politics.

I used to say, "I don't want to do houses for rich people." I always said that through school. "I'm just not going to do that." But I started to find some excitement in the forms, the spaces, being able to conceive of something and then see it built. The process of building, the working with the craftsmen -- or lack of craftsmen is more likely -- but trying to. It is an energy, and it is a mind game too, trying to get these people motivated. I guess it's like directing a movie. It's similar, except there's legal implications times jillions. But it's really exciting when you get to the level I am at now, where I have a lot of freedom.

[ Key to Success ] Passion

Frank Gehry Interview Photo
I don't get a lot of projects, but I get enough, and when I do get them, usually people want what I am doing and egg me on to explore things, and that's exciting. Then the social thing comes to the back door. At the end, you get some power because of the work to then address the social issues, not in a global sense, but in your own environment, your own immediacy. So that is gratifying. It did come. You do get a little bit of power to say things and do things.

To make a difference in the world?

Frank Gehry: Make a difference in a microcosm, but in the world, we don't know yet.

You say you hit a brick wall when you got out of school. When did that change? What was the turning point?

Frank Gehry: I guess when I did my house.

Up until the point where I did my house, which was in the late '70s, most of the work -- up until that point I think, I thought of myself as an architect, as a service business. I was working on Santa Monica Place. But I hadn't had much freedom to really do things, and for the first time -- even though it wasn't a lot of money, we only had a budget of like forty, fifty thousand dollars -- I was able to do what I wanted, exactly what I wanted, and explore and play and do things, and I realized that I couldn't go back after that.

My office changed at that point. The clients that we were working with all left. The house, I finished it.

One of the major clients said to me -- the first Santa Monica Place -- said, "If you like this..." He was sitting in my living room. He said, "If you like this, then you don't like that." He was pointing to Santa Monica Place, and I said, "Yeah, you're right," and we shook hands and decided not to work together anymore, and we never have. That was the Rouse Company in Maryland. I liked them too, but it wasn't going anywhere.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

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