Happened Today: Frank Gehry’s birthday

Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry, born February 28, 1929 is a Canadian-born American architect, one of the most important contemporary architects. Gehry’s earliest commissions were all in Southern California, where he designed a number of innovative commercial structures such as Santa Monica Place (1980) and residential buildings such as the eccentric Norton House (1984) in Venice, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium (1981) in San Pedro and the California Aerospace Museum (1984) in Los Angeles.

Among these works Gehry’s most notable design may be the renovation of his own Santa Monica residence (1977) built with a use of unconventional materials, such as chain-link fences and corrugated steel. In 1989, Gehry was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The jury cited Gehry as “Always open to experimentation, he has as well a sureness and maturity that resists, in the same way that Picasso did, being bound either by critical acceptance or his successes. His buildings are juxtaposed collages of spaces and materials that make users appreciative of both the theatre and the back-stage, simultaneously revealed.”

Subsequently the Pritzker he also began to receive larger national and international commissions. These include Gehry’s first European commission, the Vitra International Furniture Manufacturing Facility and Design Museum in Germany completed in 1989. This was soon followed by other major commissions including El Peix is a work of art located on the Barcelona seafront, built during the 1992 Olympic Games with a gold-colored metal structure made of stainless steel whose appearance thanks to special panels changes according to the intensity and direction of the rays solar.

The work acts as a canopy for restaurants and casinos located between the seafront and the Arts hotel. He was commissioned to build the Frederick Weisman Museum of Art (1993) in Minneapolis, whose abstract structure is considered highly significant because it was built prior to the widespread use of computer aided design in architecture, the Cinémathèque Française (1994) in Paris, and the Dancing House (1996) in Prague.

In 1997 the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was inaugurated on behalf of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, , it was immediately hailed as one of the world’s most spectacular buildings in the style of Deconstructivism and one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture. The museum is seamlessly integrated into the urban context, unfolding its interconnecting shapes of stone, glass and titanium on site along the Nervión River in the ancient industrial heart of the city. The 11,000 m2 of exhibition space are distributed over nineteen galleries, ten of which follow a classic orthogonal plan that can be identified from the exterior by their stone finishes.

His best received works include several concert halls for classical music, such as the curvaceous Walt Disney Concert Hall (2003) in Los Angeles. Followed on the Jay Pritzker Pavilionin, in Millennium Park in the Loop community area of Chicago, with a bandshell’s brushed stainless steel headdress frames proscenium theatre. The bandshell is connected to a trellis of interlocking crisscrossing steel pipes that support the innovative sound system, which mimics indoor concert hall acoustics.

Other notable works include academic buildings such as the Stata Center (2004) at MIT and the museums such as the Museum of Pop Culture (2000) in Seattle, Washington, commercial buildings such as the IAC Building (2007) in New York City, and residential buildings such as Gehry’s first skyscraper, the Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street (2011) in New York City. Several recent and ongoing major works by Gehry around the world include the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building in the University of Technology Sydney, completed in 2014.

Other recent works are The Chau Chak Wing, the project for Guggenheim Abu Dhabi on Saadiyat Island in the United Arab Emirates. Other significant projects such as the Mirvish Towers in Toronto, and a multi-decade renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art are currently in the design stage. In October 2013, Gehry was appointed joint architect with Foster + Partners to design the “High Street” phase of the development of Battersea Power Station in London, Gehry’s first project in UK. Photos via Wikipedia.

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