|Born||Frank Owen Goldberg
February 28, 1929
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Practice||Gehry Partners LLP|
I don't think all buildings have to be iconic, but the history of the world has shown us that cultures build iconic buildings for their major public buildings.
When I went to Harvard and studied planning, I found I didn't have the skills or the strength to become the kind of public person who could go out and lobby government agencies.
Green issues have been used as a marketing tool. Sometimes these green claims are completely meaningless.
Liquid architecture. It's like jazz – you improvise, you work together, you play off each other, you make something, they make something. And I think it's a way of – for me, it's a way of trying to understand the city, and what might happen in the city.
My father was an urchin that lived in Hell's Kitchen. He was part of a family of nine. I mean, there were times that were better and worse, but mostly, by the time we got to L.A., they'd lost whatever they had. And it was a sad time. And both he and I became truck drivers for different companies.
I was in Peru and visited a building near Lima built by the Incas. It was low in height, with no windows at all, but all the way in the back there was air movement. And I couldn't figure out how they'd done it; it was incredible.
Well, I've always just – I've never really gone out looking for work. I always waited for it to sort of hit me on the head.
When I was a kid, my father didn't really have much hope for me. He thought I was a dreamer; he didn't think I would amount to anything. My mother also.
A well-designed home has to be very comfortable. I can't stand the aesthetes, the minimal thing. I can't live that way. My home has to be filled with stuff – mostly paintings, sculpture, my fish lamps, cardboard furniture, lots of books.
Some people may say my curved panels look like sails. Well, I am a sailor, so I guess I probably do use that metaphor in my work – though not consciously.
I'm a leftie, and I've always believed in doing things on a modest scale.
I never said I was opposed to the LEED program or to green building – I'm not.
On certain projects, on big public projects, people definitely are interested in making them greener, but on smaller projects with tight budgets it can be harder.
My only extravagance in life is my sailboat. I'm bonkers about that, but other than that, I don't spend money on myself.
And I realized, when I'd come in to the meetings with these corrugated metal and chain link stuff, and people would just look at me like I'd just landed from Mars. But I couldn't do anything else. That was my response to the people and the time.
Each project, I suffer like I'm starting over again in life. There's a lot of healthy insecurity that fuels this stuff.
I can't just decide myself what's being built. Someone decides what they want, then I work for them.
Architecture is a service business. An architect is given a program, budget, place, and schedule. Sometimes the end product rises to art – or at least people call it that.
I don't make things with my hands, although I studied woodworking and made furniture.
I used to sketch – that's the way I thought out loud. Then they made a book of my sketches, and I got self-conscious, so now I don't do it much.
You have freedom, so you have to make choices – and at the point when I make a choice, the building starts to look like a Frank Gehry building. It's a signature.
I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did, and I get the sweats, I go in and start working, I'm not sure where I'm going.
Bilbao opened in 1997. It was only ten years later that I was asked to do another museum. A lot of other people got work because of Bilbao.
The best advice I've received is to be yourself. The best artists do that.
A lot of people don't get it, but I design from the inside out so that the finished product looks inevitable somehow. I think it's important to create spaces that people like to be in, that are humanistic.
The game is if the orchestra can hear each other, they play better. If they play better and there's a tangible feeling between the orchestra and the audience, if they feel each other, the audience responds and the orchestra feels it.
I think people care. If not, why do so many people spend money going on vacations to see architecture? They go to the Parthenon, to Chartres, to the Sydney Opera House. They go to Bilbao… Something compels them, and yet we live surrounded by everything but great architecture.
Most of our cities built since the war are bland. They're modernist, they're cold, and now architects want to go back to that.
I think my attitudes about the past are very traditional. You can't ignore history; you can't escape it even if you want to. You might as well know where you come from, and you might as well know that everything has been done in some shape or form.
Architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness.
I refuse to work unless I get paid, so I don't get a lot of work sometimes.
This neo-minimalism super cold stuff is weird to me. I need a place where I can come home and take my shoes off.
For me, every day is a new thing. I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did. And I get the sweats. I go in and start working, I'm not sure where I'm going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn't do it.
I would like to make a building as intellectually driven as it is sculptural and as positive as it would be acceptable to hope.
An architect is given a program, budget, place, and schedule. Sometimes the end product rises to art – or at least people call it that.
There are people who design buildings that are not technically and financially good, and there are those who do. Two categories – simple.
Architecture has always been a very idealistic profession. It's about making the world a better place, and it works over the generations because people go on vacation and they look for it.
There are a lot of questions about whether architecture is art. The people who ask that think pretty tract houses are architecture. But that doesn't hold up.
There is stuff I would have liked to have done. But there are no sour grapes.
Democracy, obviously, is something we don't want to give up, but it does create chaos. It means the guy next door can do what he wants, and it creates a collision of thinking. In cities, that means people build whatever they want.
The fact is I'm an opportunist. I'll take materials around me, materials on my table, and work with them as I'm searching for an idea that works.
It's not new that architecture can profoundly affect a place, sometimes transform it. Architecture and any art can transform a person, even save someone.
I make a model of the site. There are some obvious things: where the entrance should be, where the cars have to go in. You start to get the scale of it. You understand the client's needs, and what the client is hoping for and yearning for.
If I knew where I was going, I wouldn't do it. When I can predict or plan it, I don't do it.
I have always thought that L.A. is a motor city that developed linear downtowns.
Look, architecture has a lot of places to hide behind, a lot of excuses. 'The client made me do this.' 'The city made me do this.' 'Oh, the budget.' I don't believe that anymore.
My father probably – he had flashes of creativity – he used to do store windows for fruit stores that he worked in and stuff.
There is a backlash against me and everyone who has done buildings that have movement and feeling.