THE WORLD’S GREATEST LIVING ARCHITECT AND HIS DESIGNS – BIG AND SMALL – FOR LOUIS VUITTON
There are not many architect’s offices where you are asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before you’re allowed past the reception area, but that is exactly what happened when WISH visited Frank Gehry in his workplace in Los Angeles recently. Our photography in his office was strictly controlled for fear that we might catch a sensitive or confidential scale model of a building somewhere in the frame.
But then there are not many architects like Frank Gehry. His been called the world’s greatest living architect. He’s designed buildings that have been praised as being “among the most profound and brilliant works of architecture of our time”, according to The New York Times. And then there’s the famous Gehry effect – the power of one of his buildings to transform an entire city. Yet at the same time, his designs have occasionally polarised opinions.
He’s also, at the age of 85, one of the world’s most in-demand architects. Late last month he cut the ribbon on a building in Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, the likes of which the French capital has not seen before. The museum, which will display Louis Vuitton’s extensive art collection as well as other exhibitions and events for the luxury brand, is the focus of our profile on Gehry this month. In our interview, Gehry also discusses his recently completed first building in Australia. The striking Dr Chau Chak Wing building at the University of Technology is due to officially open in February but it is already causing traffic jams as drivers stop to get a look at its spectacular curvilinear brickwork. Gehry is an architect who emphasises the art in architecture and when asked to describe the design of his buildings he talks about philosphy and art and even music as much as the building itself. At the same time he’s also happy to chat about much more mundane things like budgets. Gehry says he prides himself on bringing in his buildings on budget. “I’m nuts about that stuff,” he says. “The UTS building is on budget – within three per cent – and I’m very proud of that because when you look at it you think, ‘oh that’s got to be expensive’. It wasn’t cheap, but it was on budget and the budget was a rational one.”
This is our annual design issue and it includes a special report on this year’s winners of the Australian Institute of Architects National Awards, which were announced in Darwin last night. Our 11-page report, which starts on page 34, includes all the winners in every category.
Also in this issue is a profile of rising Australian design star Henry Wilson, the new creative director of Tiffany & Co, Francesca Amfitheatrof (the first woman to hold that job in the brand’s 177-year history), and a story about getting back to design basics with leading architect John Wardle.
Our interview with Gehry covered a wide range of architectural topics and unfortunately we weren’t able to include them all in this edition. An extended interview, a gallery of his works and a series of videos with him can be found on our website.
We hope you enjoy the issue.
WISH editor David Meagher and photographer James Cant in architect Frank Gehry’s memorabilia-lined office