Aspen Ideas Fest 2009: Frank Gehry, as interviewed by Thomas Pritzker

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Aspen Ideas Fest 2009: Frank Gehry, as interviewed by Thomas Pritzker

| aia, architects, architecture | July 06, 2009

It was clear that Frank Gehry is self-aware from the introductory biographic notes that Pritzker read: “Frank Gehry has been the subject of a Simpsons episode…” was how it began. Gehry is often dismissed as the worst offender among “starchitects” seeking iconic memorials to their own talents, ala Howard Roark. And maybe it’s that his advanced age has offered him some more perspective (Gehry is 80), but this interview made it clear that his well-known style was mostly accidental. Here are my observations from watching the session:

1. He came from very humble beginnings.

Gehry was driving a truck  at age 19 or 20, and taking some college classes as night. In one pottery class, he became friendly with the instructor, who invited Gehry to visit his home while it was under construction. Gehry was taken with the design and construction process he observed, so the professor recommended an architecture course, which the professor then paid for when Gehry couldn’t afford it.

2. Disney’s lawyers treated him pretty badly.

When Gehry was announced as being on the short list for the Disney Concert Hall, the family’s attorneys called a meeting with him too provide him with a list of things that he couldn’t do in the project. The meeting ended with the lead attorney declaring that he “would never let them put the Disney family name on something he designed.” (In the end, Gehry chose brass railings throughout the widely-acclaimed project because they had been on the attorney’s early list of forbidden things.)

3. He was mostly pre-occupied with the interior acoustic functions in designing Disney Concert Hall.

Full article via Parrot blog

About the author

Drawing upon original ideas and extensive personal and professional experience in the field, David McFadden crafted this article to explore the untapped potential of making historic architectural masterpieces more sustainable. After working at various design practices—both full-time and freelance—and launching his design firm, David identified a significant gap in the industry. In 1984, he founded Consulting For Architects Inc. Careers, an expansive hub designed to align architects with hiring firms for mutual benefit. This platform enables architects to find impactful design work and frees hiring firms from the time-consuming cycles of recruitment and layoffs. David’s innovative approach to employer-employee relations has brought much-needed flexibility and adaptation to the industry. As the Founder and CEO, David has successfully guided his clients and staff through the challenges of four recessions—the early ’80s, early ’90s, early 2000s, the Great Recession, the pandemic, and the current slowdown due to inflation and high-interest rates.

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