Gehry was born Frank Goldberg in Toronto, Canada, in 1929. Frank Gehry moved to Los Angeles at an early age and completed his architectural education at the University of Southern California. Frank Gehry subsequently worked for Wdton Becket & Associates (1957-1968) and Victor Gruen (1968-1961) in Los Angeles, as well as for Andre Remondet in Paris (1961). In 1962, Frank Gehry founded his own firm, and embarked on the design of a large variety of residential [Hillcrest Apartments (1962), Bixby Green (1969)], commercial [Kay Jewelers Stores (1963-1965), Joseph Magnin Stores (1968)], office [Rouse Company Headquarters (1974)], and institutional projects.
During the 1960s, Frank Gehry began to redirect his architecture by fusing the Japanese and vernacular elements in his early work with the influence of painters and sculptors in a sophisticated manipulation ofperspectively distorted shapes, sculptural masses molded by light, and buildings that reveal their structures. This strategy reached its first resolution with the Malibu house (1972) (Fig. 1) for a friend, painter Ron Davis, and developed through a series of small residential projects. These houses allowed Frank Gehry especially to explore a fascination with the process of construction and the use of massproduced and affordable materials. By exposing wood frame construction, by using plywood, corrugated metal, and chain link metal fence as sheathing or screens, and by breaking volumes Into incomplete geometries and partial objects, Frank Gehry revealed the structure of the physical and architectural context in which and out of which Frank Gehry was building. This search for new architectural orders culminated in his own house in Santa Monica (1978), in which an existing Cape Cod house was surrounded and cut through by an addition clad in metal and glass (Fig. 2). This new space was shot through with implied volumes created by skewed pieces of chain link, wood studs, and glass. The wood construction of both the new and the old building was exposed, as were parts of the foundation and the roof.
At the same time, Frank Gehry engaged in the design of several larger scale buildings in which Frank Gehry put the lessons, learned from his houses to use in combination with often playful geometries [Concord Pavilion (1975), Mid-Atlantic Toyota Distributors (1978), Cabrillo Marine Museum (1979), Santa Monica Place Shopping Mall (1973-1979)]. These developments came together in his renovation of a former police bus depot as the temporary headquarters of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (1983). Here, the existing structure and context of the building were allowed to continue above and through a minimal intervention of fireproofing, exhibition walls, and access points, and the exterior was marked by an ephemeral chain link canopy supported on steel columns. As part of his formal investigations, Frank Gehry also experimented with the fabrication of furniture out of cardboard and plywood. His "Easy Edges" line of chairs, tables, stools, and accessories (1970) was extremely popular, and gave Frank Gehry his first national exposure. The success of the first line led to the production of the more free-form "Experimental Edges" of 1979 and continues with current prototypes for a new series of chairs. In 1983, Frank Gehry produced a limited edition of lamps in die form of fish and snakes made out of Colorcore Formica.
In 1981, Frank Gehry was asked to design an addition to his first house, the 1959 Steeves Residence in Brentwood, Calif. Frank Gehry used this opportunity to transform the program of a suburban home into a flowing, light-filled space, which appears as a series of discrete, sculptural elements, each with its own formal organization, color, texture, material, and occasionally revealed structure. Although the addition was not built, Frank Gehry has since designed and built several such villages of discrete forms, the sculptural articulation of which is emphasized by the use of increasingly solid and dense material (including stucco, galvanized metal, lead-coated copper, onyx, and stone) and by the tangential connections and oversized elements such as stairs, skylights, and detached column-canopy objects. Recent residential designs include the Sirmai-Petereon House, the Winton Guest House, the Borman Residence, the Lewis Residence, and a residence in Brentwood.
Once again, Frank Gehry applied the lessons learned on the smaller, residential scale to the design of several important institutional commissions in the 1980s. His California Aerospace Museum (1982-1984) features a prow-shaped sheet-metal volume suspended over a dramatic entrance ramp, a series of collaged wall elements, and an F-104 airplane suspended over a hangar door (Fig. 3). Inside, the incomplete shapes and expansive volumes are animated both by an ordered set of staircases and geometrically formed skylights and by the exhibited aircraft rotating through the space. For the Loyola Law School Campus near downtown Los Angeles (1981-1983), Frank Gehry developed a small acropolis made up of discrete classrooms, auditoriums, and a chapel, as well as landscape forms. Each is made out of different and often unexpected materials and is highlighted by a series of over-scaled freestanding columns dad in concrete and varieties of metal. These elements are posed against a long administration building, which serves as a backdrop for this collage of forms and is itself focused around a central staircase spilling out into the small campus courtyard.
Frank Gehry 's most recent institutional buildings, which include the ICS/ERF computer sciences building for the University of California at Irvine (1986) and the Francis Howard Goldwyn Regional Branch Library (1986), continue to pose overscaled elements of entrance, light, and shelter against simple, sculptural masses disposed in a tightly ordered, but often nongeometric, fashion. Designs far the Yale Psychiatric Institute, the Herman Miller Inc. Western Regional Facility, and the Chiat/Day Agency Office Building, all currently nearing construction, also further Frank Gehry 's experimentation with shapes, materials, and the community of forms created in their careful composition. The skin of the building is undergoing the same kind of intensive research as that which created the complex decomposition and deformation of structure and shape in previous buildings. Collaboration with artists such as Class Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, along with Frank Gehry 's own interests, is also leading to the introduction of large-scale, inhabitable objects (binoculars at the Chiat/Day Building) and fish and snake forms (Fishdance Restaurant, Kobe, Japan (1987)). These elements, together with other basic forms from Frank Gehry 's repertoire, dad in such materials as Finnish plywood, copper, galvanized metal, cardboard, and lead, form the focal points for a retroapective exhibition originated in 1986 by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and traveling to Houston, Toronto, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Boston.