GEHRY, FRANK OWEN


GEHRY, FRANK OWEN (Ephraim Goldberg; 1929– ), U.S. architect. Gehry was responsible for some of the most creative architecture of the 20th century with 30 existing buildings, public and private, in America, Europe, and Asia. He was born in Toronto, Canada. After moving to the United States in 1947, he received his degree in architecture from the University of Southern California and then served in the U.S. military during the Korean War. After the war, he went to Harvard Graduate School to study city planning. In 1962, Gehry Partners was launched. From his earliest work, he was opposed to the straight line and flat surfaces of most modern and postmodern designs. His use of chain link fencing on his home in Santa Monica aroused the wrath of his neighbors and the bewilderment of professional architects. Gehry simply explained that he was using ordinary materials in a different way. At first, Gehry was skeptical of the computer, but his engineer, Jim Glymph, convinced him that the best way to transform his creative drawings into economically practical applications was through the computer. In addition, much research went into finding the particular materials Gehry wanted to use to accentuate the play of light and color on the surface of his buildings. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Rock Music "Temple" (EMP) in Seattle, Washington, and the Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall are handsome and startlingly different from the boxlike structures of his predecessors. Gehry's forms are fluid, organic, and colorful, growing out of his flowing sketches. In the case of the Guggenheim Museum, he finally found a special formula for titanium that would reflect the changing light of the sun, clouds, and sky. For the rock-'n'-roll building (known as the EMP – Experience Music Project) in Seattle, non-fading auto body paint in red, blue, even gold, silver, and purple mark different sections of this 140,000-square-foot building. The shapes and surfaces of Gehry's buildings develop out of deeply ingrained images in his consciousness. He recounts that he was fascinated by the forms of the live fish his grandmother used to bring home from the market. He used to play with them in the bathtub before they were cooked. His Fishdance Restaurant in Kobe, Japan (1987), is unmistakably the shape of a large fish. The scalelike surfaces of the Guggenheim Museum and the EMP exemplify the same influence. Gehry won an invited design competition in 1987 for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Begun before the Bilbao museum, 16 years went by before completion. Gehry received a long list of awards including the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1989, the most prestigious award given to an architect, and more than 100 awards from the American Institute of Architects to honor outstanding architectural design. On March 2, 2005, representatives of the City of Las Vegas, Nevada, announced that Gehry would be the architect for the Alzheimer's Research Center, one of the projects that will make up the 61-acre downtown urban village. The mayor of Las Vegas said Gehry's building "will be a piece of artwork that will draw people from around the world who will marvel at its beauty."

[Betty R. Rubenstein (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.