A visit to the exhibition The Architect's Studio: Frank
0. Gehry in the Balcony Room and Gallery of the Netherlands Architecture
Institute (NAI) allows the public to enter the world of the architect.
It would appear as if Gehry's design studio has rented the rooms
as additional office space. There are models everywhere in all
shapes and sizes, countless sketches lying around, and computer
screens showing three-dimensional images of buildings. The space
is also actually being used as a studio. During the exhibition,
students of architecture will make a large model (scale 1:10)
of the Weatherhead School. Other material in the exhibition shows
various stages in the design process of many other projects.
The visitor can choose from this unique wealth of information
and follow the development of a building right through to the
In contrast to earlier reports, Frank Gehry will not be
able to attend the opening on September 11, 1999. Instead, he
will visit the NM in October 20, 1999. A special activity will
be organized to mark the visit.
The creative process
Gehry's method of working is based largely on intuition. By visiting
the location, and through conversations and the study of literature
and music, he tries to get to know as much as possible about
the local culture and people. And essential for a fruitful collaboration
in his view is a client who shares his enthusiasm.
Immediately, usually in the airplane back home, he starts to
sketch in order to 'find' the future building. Although these
sketches cannot be fathomed by anyone other than Gehry, their
similarity to the eventual building is always striking.
Back at his office in Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Gehry continues
the design process using building blocks. He always designs in
a pragmatic way and works from the inside-out. Blocks are placed
in all manner of configurations in order to explore the spatial
relationships. Each block represents a certain function in the
The design process continues by construction of a wide range
of models of varying size and material. These are constantly
changed on the spot. The variety ensures that a model never becomes
an object that must be left untouched. No less than 90 of the
120 people working at the office are model-makers.
Only when Gehry is happy with the result does the process move
to the next stage: the production of working drawings and digital
interpretations of the model on the computer.
All these steps in the process of making a building can be closely
followed in the exhibition.
In the end, all the exhibited items - drawings, models, computer
models, etcetera - are to Gehry no more than working tools. The
only thing that really matters is the eventual building. After
a visit to the exhibition, the only thing left to do is head
to the travel agency. The choice of destination is not made any
easier by the wide choice of amazing projects on show in the
exhibition. They include the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao,
the Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, the Vitra
International Furniture Manufacturing Facility and Design Museum
in Weil am Rhein, the Nationale Nederlanden Building (Fred and
Ginger) in Prague and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
Many other projects are also shown in detail - from single houses
to enormous office complexes. Moreover, the exhibition includes
the striking cardboard chairs and also the furniture designs
that Gehry made for KNOLL.
Gehry's work has acquired its own following. One office considered
to be one of the LA School is Morphosis, which is the subject
of an exhibition in the Main Hall from September 4, 1999, to
January 16, 2000. The work of the LA School is characterized
by an inventive use and informal juxtaposition of raw industrial
materials, a preference for fragmentation and complexity, and
carefully crafted details.
The exhibition The Architect's Studio: Frank 0. Gehry was
developed for the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humblebaek,
Denmark November 1998 - February 1999) and arose out of a collaboration
between Frank 0. Gehry himself, curator Kjeld Kjeldsen of the
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, and architect/curator Kirsten
Kiser, who was at the office of Gehry for a long period in order
to prepare the exhibition and select the material.