A random Weblog

Weary Gehry
December 18, 2010, 10:35 am
Filed under: Architecture, Media, Technology | Tags: , ,

I felt for Frank Gehry yesterday.  Here was an 84 year old architectural genius battling through an interview in front of 600 people, despite being clearly exhausted. He was generous with his time, but clearly after a busy week in Sydney to launch the design of a stunning new “tree house” building for UTS, he was ready for a quiet lie-down.  And who can blame him? Running a business of 150 staff working on projects in multiple countries and time zones would be hard work for anyone – let alone when you’re 84.

But, weariness aside, under the questions from Geraldine Doogue, Gehry offered some amazing insights into his life, and his pursuit of perfect design.  It was interesting to listen to the points he made in respect to creativity – to consider how these observations could apply to other arts such as photography, music, and so on.

Some observations from his comments:

  • Creative projects work. The Bilbao building paid for itself in eight months.
  • Simple things require more precision than the complex
  • There is beauty and energy in collisions of spaces and design
  • Always be yourself – and then you will be the expert in your work.  Your signature is your own, no one else does it like that – so do that in your work and don’t think about it.
  • Every new project is a challenge.
  • The constraint of the budget is a welcome challenge
  • Be childlike, playful, and free of constraints as you design
  • Encourage push-back from the client, it helps him find the edge
  • Too many colleagues don’t challenge the clients early optimism on costs. You need to do that at the outset
  • Get out of the project if the client is not engaged.

A word that Gehry used repeatedly was “engage.”  The work has to engage the client, it has to engage the users, it has to engage the community. It has to engage him as the architect.  He kept coming back to this word – and it surely applies in all creative pursuits.

When asked what he wants his legacy to be, he responded, “Well since I’m not going to be here, I don’t care.”  I think he meant it – he simply designs and creates without worrying what the naysayers and critics care to focus on.  That to me, is a sure sign of a great mind at work.

A model of architect Frank Gehry's Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, dubbed The Treehouse. (Gehry Partners)


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