PRIMER: Frank Gehry

July 17th, 2012, by

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.


Airdates | Thursday, July 19 and Friday, July 20, 2012

Hometown | Toronto, Ontario, Canada as Frank Owen Goldberg

Why You (Should) Know Him | He has arguably the most creative portfolio in architecture. You can chalk up Spain’s Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall, Prague’s Dancing House and 8 Spruce Street in New York City and Germany’s Vitra Design Museum (to name a few!) in his résumé. His buildings are tourist attractions all over the world—but his Santa Monica home also attracts a bulk of visitors. Check out the gallery below to see some of his work.

Why He’s Buzzing | In 2009, it was announced that Gehry was unanimously chosen to be lead designer of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial after a closed competition of 44 entries.


  • His grandfather gave him his Hebrew name “Ephraim.” He only used it at his bar mitzvah.
  • Gehry studied at Los Angeles City College while working as a truck driver in L.A. In addition, his list of odd jobs includes being a radio announcer.
  • He failed his first art class on perspective in college. He retook the class to get better results.
  • After attending Los Angeles City College, Gehry attended the University of Southern California. He graduated at the top of his class with a bachelor’s in architecture in 1954.
  • In 1956, Frank Owen Goldberg changed his name to Frank O. Gehry at his wife’s suggestion.
  • He served in the U.S. Army with Leonard Nimoy.
  • In true Canadian fashion, Gehry is a hockey fanatic. So much so that there is reportedly a hockey league in his office. In 2004, he even designed the World Cup of Hockey trophy.
  • He is a Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Columbia University. He also teaches advanced design studio classes at Yale’s School of Architecture.
  • While his reputation is that he makes an effort to stay within clients’ budgets, the downtown Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall project went $174 million over budget.
  • He made a guest appearance as himself on The Simpsons in the episode “The Seven-Beer Snitch.” He also lent his voice on Arthur.
  • Fish play a big part in Gehry’s design. Several buildings, a jewelry line, household items and sculptures are modeled after a fish motif
  • He holds multiple honorary doctorates from universities all over the United States and Canada.

Selection of Honors/Awards

1947   Elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects
1989   Awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize for Architecture
1994   Recipient of The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize
1995   Received the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award
1998   Awarded the National Medal of Arts
1999   Awarded the AIA Gold Medal
2000   Given the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum
2004   Awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for public service
2006   Was inducted into the California Hall of Fame at The California Museum for History, Women and the Arts by Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver
2007   Received the Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology from the National Building Museum

Selection of Works by Frank Gehry

Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Last modified: July 23, 2012 at 7:52 pm