By Janice Harris
Frank Owen Gehry has been a force in the world of architecture and design for over eight decades, and he’s become one of the world’s best known and celebrated contemporary architects. His work, which includes a mixture of commercial and residential structures, is featured around the world in major cities like Berlin, Los Angeles, Barcelona, and Prague.
During the 2018 Las Vegas Winter Market at the World Market Center, Las Vegas, Frank Owen Gehry was honored with the Design Icon Award. This award recognizes designers who have made a significant and remarkable contribution to the industry. Ten individuals received this prestigious award in the past, but an architect was never honored until now.
The House Tipster Media Team was on-site at “Winter Market” as Frank was presented with the Design Icon Award and during his exclusive interview with Robert Maricich, CEO of International Market Centers and Larry Ruvo, the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
About Frank Owen Gehry
Gehry is a well-known figure throughout the architecture industry and around the world. His designs, which border on contemporary, are considered revolutionary. Each one is iconic and, above all else, holds meaning to the people and surroundings in which it’s located.
Although his contributions to modern architecture are numerous and extraordinary, Frank’s still working today at almost 89-years-young. He continues to redefine what architecture means and what it does through his commercial and residential exteriors and interiors, as well as his incorporation of technology. In fact, Frank was an early believer in using digital tools to help fabricate his creations.
Some of Frank’s most notable structures include:
- Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles
- Dancing House, Prague
- Lou Ruvo Center in Las Vegas
What stands out about Frank’s works are their almost indescribable qualities.
The Remarkable World of Architecture
During the interview, Frank was asked about the “evolutions and revolutions” he’s seen during his tenure, and he was quick to point out that the world of architecture is always changing.
“The computer, certainly, was a true disruption,” Frank pointed out.
But above all the advances, technology included in the industry, one of the things that stands out to him is the generation of younger architecture’s focus on the environment surrounding their buildings. “Erich Mendelsohn, he did a tower in Berlin called the Einstein Tower and it’s so elegant and inexpensively built,” Frank explained. He noted that the way it’s cited in the context of historic buildings shows how to respect the environment you’re building in. The building becomes a part of the larger picture, in a way. “A lot of people don’t do that,” he noted in regard to architectural sensitivity.
He urged his colleges to “Pay attention to context and what came before” as they design and create.
Art as a Common Denominator
Frank candidly discussed one of his latest project, an orchestra house in the heart of Berlin. The Pierre Boulez Hall was a life-changing design experience for him, but not for the reasons you’d expect.
It was the musicians themselves and their varying backgrounds that gave Frank inspiration and admiration for the world of artistry. “I spent time visiting the auditions, “ Frank explained. “These are kids and they sit down together, and they play beautifully. They love playing together.” But what’s remarkable about these musicians is that they came from all over the world, including countries like Israel and Syria, where they may not have otherwise gotten along.
His takeaway: “You can talk to each other through the arts better than you can through our language and politics.”
Frank’s Interesting View of Constraints
What moved our team the most during Frank’s conversation was his practical insights, especially when it came to the common hurdles he faces in his everyday work.
Robert asked Frank about constraints and how he deals with them. Is it materials, building codes, or budgets that he finds most cumbersome? Robert asked.
Interestingly, Frank doesn’t view constraints as, well, constraining! “Constraints are very positive in the design world. They make you think harder… if they’re not arbitrary and if they’re rational and reasonable.” Frank enjoys working against constraints and figuring out how to solve them.
The Lou Ruvo Center
One of Frank’s awe-inspiring designs is the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, which sits next door to the World Market Center. This structure, which appears to be melting into itself, was designed by Frank by the request of Larry Ruvo.
Larry explained the experience of working with Frank during the interview, including his desire to have a celebrity architect design his research center in honor of his father, Lou. “I thought it would bring attention to the disease [of Alzheimer's],” said Larry.
Through this collaboration, Larry and Frank built an unbelievable center that focuses on the treatment and research of brain health. “Because of Frank Gehry, what happens in Vegas benefits the rest of the world,” Larry said of Frank’s influence in bringing the center to the world stage.
Advice For Budding Architects
Frank wants those studying to become architects to know that everyone’s different and thus, everyone’s career is bound to look different.
“There are many different roles in the process of making buildings and design. People tend to find the niches where they feel more comfortable, and this happens naturally,” Frank explained.
Frank wants each and every architect to know that the most important thing to do is to be yourself.