How to Be an Architectural Genius

February 22, 2017


I don't normally share advertisements, but Frank Gehry doing a video "Masterclass" might be interesting:

Or maybe not. While his work is spectacular, after seeing many of his lectures and reading many interviews over the years, I've got to say he has no idea of why he does what he does. He has no theory or pedagogy either, and his work is not instructive - it is idiosyncratic. In spite of that, and in part because of it, he is the most important American architect to emerge since Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright, like Gehry was an iconoclastic genius. He had a reputation for being difficult to work with, and was unable to explain or teach his creative process to others. As a Architecture professor, I always found it amusing when sitting in on classes by famous practitioners. Only a few had dedicated themselves to the art of teaching as they had to the art of architecture, and it showed.

The biggest lessons to be learned from Frank Gehry are these:

Don't compromise your vision.

Solve the pragmatic problems first.

Do what makes you happy.

Hang out with artists and make social connections in that world if you want to be accepted and get clients who support avant guard architecture.

Work very, very, very hard for many decades.

Buy a Santa Monica bungalow in a traditional neighborhood and set about ruining it. I mean REALLY ruin it architecturally. Expose the studs. Wrap it in chain link fencing. Build everything at weird angles so it clashes with everything, else, including itself. Publish said house in the architecture press, and use neighborhood outrage to get free local press:

Get a really good psychotherapist.

Be a genius.

Anyone who's really motivated can do most of the above, but that last one is tough. Its why there are so few architects as accomplished as Frank Gehry...geniuses can pull off things mere mortals are incapable of. For all his flaws, the world is better place for having Frank Gehry in it.

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