Frank Gehry is deemed one of the most important and influential architects of our time. His signature architectural expression and his iconic creations like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Disney Concert hall in Los Angeles, to name a few, are well-known across the world and have won numerous accolades. In this Frank Gehry Interview with the Louisiana channel, he talks about his personal experiences that led him to architecture, his early life, and his influences. He also talks about modern architecture and cities, the relationship between art and architecture, and why an architect must find their personal style or “signature”. The interviewer delves into questions regarding not just his profession but also how he views the world in general and what he would want to see more of in it.
The Canadian-American architect in his Frank Gehry Interview elucidates on the events in his early days that paved the way for the life he has today as one of the greatest architects of this era. From a young boy who thoroughly enjoyed his visits to art museums and classical concerts to a pioneer in the field of architecture, Frank Gehry’s journey has been one of self-discovery and then self-expression. Experiences that dotted his life that seemed like mere coincidences, may it be his enrollment in a night class in architecture or attending a lecture by Alvar Aalto, which he recounts had an unforgettable influence on him, gradually guided him to what he was supposed to do.
When discussing the values he thinks one needs to be an architect, he mentions the importance of learning the craft and the discipline. The first step in the direction of one’s passion is always the learning and the accumulation of knowledge. And when one puts this knowledge to practice, they must do it with responsibility towards the people and the planet.
One of the aspects Frank Gehry emphasized was identifying and developing one’s language of expression and how one’s “personal spirit has to evolve into the language” that one creates. This expression can only be discerned through trust and intrepidly taking a leap into the unknown. What comes out of that process is something deeply personal, like a signature, something through which an architect should “be able to have an emotional response to their work that lasts through the centuries.”
Frank Gehry has been an admirer of art for as long he remembers. His words exuded the same fascination as he recalled incidents wherein a piece of art bought tears to his eyes, whether it was the first time he laid eyes on the Greek sculpture ‘Charioteer’, or when Daniel Barenboim and the Devon orchestra performed Tchaikovsky’s fourth symphony in the Disney hall. He strongly believes that art and architecture contribute immensely to a better world. The purity and honesty of an artist lie in their raw and free spirit because “the best artists are themselves” without the need to change anything based on what people think of them.
Inculcating feelings in architecture to relate not just to the onlookers, but firstly to the person paying for it so that they believe in the vision is another skill to work upon. Be real from the beginning to not end up cutting and compromising on that vision. In the end, a work of architecture should represent two things: singularity or uniqueness, and simultaneously a relationship with the whole. Frank Gehry talks about how buildings today are lacking that relationship with the surroundings and are more singular. He also mentions the monotony in the appearance of newer buildings across the world, making downtown Los Angeles and downtown Seoul and everything in between pretty much the same.
Travelling and knowledge of different cultures, according to Frank Gehry, is not only an intrinsic part of becoming an architect but a necessity even for the survival of a person. Just being a person is enough of a reason to keep gaining knowledge. Knowing about the world gives us hope that there are better things in the offing while keeping us aware.
On being asked about the advice he has for people now that he has turned 90, Frank Gehry expresses his hope to see more humanity in the world. Human beings must treat each other with respect and equality regardless of their status in society or their shortcomings. People supporting each other and seeing each other for what they can add to the world and not what they cannot is something that humankind needs. In the end, we’re all human beings and that is something we all share.
This Frank Gehry Interview was enlightening, not just for aspiring architects, but for anyone who watches it. The humility with which Frank Gehry talks about his experiences, speaks with the audiences and inspires them. The worth of an individual expression and a legacy that resonates with people across generations is something every aspiring designer or architect should aim at achieving. This conversation does not only teach about the discipline of the field of architecture but also pushes us to ponder about our roles and responsibilities as human being. These words of wisdom from someone who has experienced a wide array of events to become one of the best at what he does are a guiding hand for all the beginners who wish to tread the path of this wondrously creative profession and look up to legends like Frank Gehry.