8 Spectacular Buildings Designed by Frank Gehry

It’s not often the case that architects grow to become household names. But Frank Gehry has never lived by any common practice. The award-winning architect has spent more than a half-century disrupting the very meaning of design within architecture. From the iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (which Philip Johnson called “the greatest building of our time”) to the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, Gehry has proven time and again the force that’s produced when whimsical design is done masterfully. Born in Canada in 1929, Gehry attended the University of Southern California and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He began his career in Los Angeles working for Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman. After a brief stint in Paris working with Andre Remondet, he returned to California and started his own firm in 1962. Gehry was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1989. A man with seemingly no limits, there is no bad time to celebrate Gehry’s oeuvre.

Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, California

Gehry was shortlisted to devise a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1988; the project, the Walt Disney Concert Hall, finally opened in 2003. Today critics and the public agree that the iconic building was worth the wait. Reflecting Gehry’s longtime passion for sailing, the structure’s exterior features expanses of stainless steel that billow above Grand Avenue, while inside, similarly shaped panels of Douglas fir line the auditorium.

Neuer Zollhof, Dusseldorf, Germany

Gehry’s Neuer Zollhof complex spurred the transformation of Dusseldorf, Germany’s waterfront into what is now called the Media Harbour in 1999. The popularity of the trio of office buildings yielded nearby commissions for other prominent architects like Fumihiko Maki and Murphy/Jahn, and earned the three towers a spot in the Germand edition of Monopoly.

Chiat/Day Complex, Venice, California

The 1991 Venice, California, complex that Gehry built for advertising agency Chiat/Day commonly goes by the nickname Binoculars Building, thanks to the enormous pair of binoculars that mark the entrance to a parking garage—a collaboration between Gehry and artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. Office structures resembling a ship’s prow and tree trunks flank the sculpture, which now welcomes 500 Google employees to work every day.

Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany

Since the early 1980s, furniture manufacturer Vitra has enlisted up-and-coming architects to create buildings for its campus in Weil am Rhein. Among them is Gehry’s Vitra Design Museum, which opened in 1989. For the 8,000-square-foot venue, Gehry piled simple simple geometric forms against a cubic volume, unifying them all with white plaster surfaces and zinc roofing.

Gehry House, Santa Monica, California

Gehry’s first significant brush with fame came with the 1978 construction of a Santa Monica residence he designed for himself and his family. The project wrapped an existing bungalow in angular volumes clad in a riot of everyday suburban materials like plywood and chain link. As opinionated as it was sculptural, the house earned both cheers and jeers in short order. In 2012 it won the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious Twenty-Five Year Award.

Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, California

The 1978 commission to expand Loyola Law School would propel Gehry into institutional work. He reimagined Loyola’s downtown Los Angeles site as a neotraditional campus, arranging a stylistically diverse set of buildings and surrounding them with a knoll-like landscape. During initial design work, a strategy was developed to allow the expansion of the campus in several phases, cor­responding to the priorities of the school. The last phase of the design was completed in 2003.

Olympic Fish Pavilion, Barcelona, Spain

The monumental golden steel-mesh fish sculpture Gehry created for the 1992 Olympic Village in Barcelona represented a technological breakthrough for the architect’s studio, which used three-dimensional aeronautical-design software to realize the concept.

Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Completed in 1993, the Weisman Art Museum is located on the University of Minnesota campus. Its western facade, featuring steel-clad turrets and bays, peeks over the bluffs of the Mississippi River. Construction of a Gehry-designed expansion concluded in 2011.

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