Gehry talks is a book offering extensive commentary from the great architect himself on his various designs, thought processes, materials used, and clients. It features photos of the buildings, models, plans, as well as sketches showing the evolution of the design from thought to construction.
Frank Gehry is the great modern architect whose (usually striking) projects include the titanium clad Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the stainless steel clad Weisman museum in Minneapolis, Walt Disney concert hall in Los Angeles, and the `dancing towers' or Nederlanden building in Prague to name a few.
He talks about the different approaches taken in tackling a commission. In the case of the Nederlanden building, we see it transformed from squiggles, to various models, before the final building appeared.
He also talks about his relationships with various people; fellow designers and clients for example. He talks about the use of technology like computers in design.
A very good book. To quote a line from the book; `The computer is a tool, not a partner, an instrument for catching the curve, not for inventing it'.
on March 28, 2006
What makes this book interesting is its format and organization, and the candid presentation of the projects by Gehry himself. What the book confirms, though, is that Gehry's work lacks any theoretical dimension, unlike that of his more serious equals, like Moneo or Siza. Gehry will be remembered one day for pushing the limits of architecture in the formal sense, for his wizardry and creativity. But eventually the repetition of the same forms in unequal contexts raises many questions. Does MIT's science center warrant the same formal expression as a museum in Bilbao? And will it really adapt to the changing demands of its client? Gehry lovers will definitely appreciate this book. Others who are looking for a more critical examination of his work will have to search elsewhere.
on October 2, 2004
The big plus for me in reading this book is that Gehry lacks the pretension of being overly intellectual and doesn't feel the need to wrap himself in some sort of pseudo-scientific process -- as if he himself is an observer of his own, mysterious, secret process. His anecdotes for each project are conversational and reflect a lot of facets of the profession that people see as interfering with design.
On the other hand, I read this book with the expectation that I would get some great insight, some more lessons that I could take with me and apply them to my work. I was disappointed with the depth of insight into his own projects. I got the general sense that each project was a reaction to incidental material in front of him, some vague sense of character he wanted in the work and some of those "real-world" constraints he had to deal with. In other words, the essays weren't into big ideas, not much philosophy, and little depth in terms of projects' evolution. It presents each project as a kind of Rue Goldberg set of moments, more of a quick chronology and sometimes more about how he got the commission than how he got the design.
There are a few moments of good insight in the introduction, before he gets into specific projects. For example, his interest in the drapery of clothing, particularly its representation in sculpture (his example is a bit odd, perhaps) is obvious if you've looked at his stuff long enough, but it's nice to hear as much from him. There is more insight into Gehry's relationships with other people, his clients and a couple of his designers here, and that's a good read to some extent.
The photos are pretty good. However, they don't complement the writing very well, nice as they are. Some things Gehry tries to describe should actually be shown and referenced, but these are mostly PR shots, and the photos are usually aspects of the work, and don't always do a good job orienting you to the project.
Considering how accessible the book's writing is and its relatively affordable price (for an architecture book, that is), I still think it's worth picking up for yourself. Different people will be rewarded differently from it, but it's not on the level of other great architects' writings.