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    The Magnificent Architectural Masterpieces of Frank Gehry

    By rule of thumb, as architecture evolves, there are very few architects that ever become well-known for their works. One of the most famous was Frank Lloyd Wright and now there is Frank Gehry, who like him, has always marched to his own drum. Born on February 28, 1929, in Toronto, Canada he is best […]
The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Magnificent Architectural Masterpieces of Frank Gehry

By rule of thumb, as architecture evolves, there are very few architects that ever become well-known for their works. One of the most famous was Frank Lloyd Wright and now there is Frank Gehry, who like him, has always marched to his own drum.

Born on February 28, 1929, in Toronto, Canada he is best known for his postmodern designs including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao Spain. Gehry attended the University of Southern California and Harvard Graduate School for Design.

He has spent more than half-a-century going against the norm or common form of architecture and is considered a force of nature unto himself. He started his magnificent career working for Victor Gruen Associates and Pereira and Luckman out of Los Angeles. He then spent a short period of time working with Andre Remondet in Paris, France then returned to California and started his own firm. In 1989, he received the Pritzker Prize and since then does not seem to have any limits in his unique designs. Here’s what we think are his top architectural designs from around the world.

epm museum

The EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington

This was built from an idea in the head of Paul Allen who was the co-founder of Microsoft. The project was completed in 2000 and was inaugurated the “Experience Music Project”. Gehry framed the base of this space needle design to look like a steel and aluminum skin that flaps in the passing by of Seattle’s famous monorail.

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

The DZ Building In Berlin, Germany

This building was commissioned by DZ Bank & Hines to design a branch that would sit across from the triumphal arch. That said, under the local code in Berlin, it is prohibited that any building or structure outshine the Brandenburg Gate. Frank Gehry took on the project and designed a building with a limestone facade that was subtle. The building houses a stainless steel conference room which sits inside the atrium and is shaped like the head of a horse.

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The Peter B. Lewis Building In Cleveland, Ohio

The exterior of this building is classic Gehry with ribbons of stainless steel and spreads out from its brick base. Since 2002, it is home to the Weatherhead School of Management at the Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. The building’s open interior environment evokes a welcoming appeal.

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

The Richard B. Fisher Center In Annandale-On-Hudson, New York

Completed in 2001, Gehry’s stainless steel facade looks like a theatrical mask was created for the Performing Arts at the Bard College in New York. Even though he was criticized for not backing sustainability, he incorporated geothermal energy systems and many other green concepts into the building which has made the structure almost completely free of fossil fuels.

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

The Walt Disney Concert Hall

In 1988, Gehry’s the Walt Disney Concert Hall was on a waiting list to build a new home for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. It was finally opened in 2003 and everyone from critics to the public believed the building was well worth the wait. Because of Gehry’s love for sailing, the building’s exterior has expanses of stainless steel that billow over Grand Avenue and the interior is home to panels shaped of Douglas fir that line the auditorium.

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

The Guggenheim Museum In Bilbao, Spain

Upon opening its doors in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum put Bilbao, Spain on the map and, to date, is one of the most visited sites around the world. The exhibition space is a massive elevation of glass, stone, and titanium that was structured to follow the contours of the Nervión River. Although the construction of this building went unnoticed by just about everyone, when the doors opened it was praised the “signal moment in the architectural culture”, This masterpiece secured Gehry’s place in architectural history.

Frank Gehry Davis Studio

The Davis Studio In Malibu, CA

Six years after starting his architecture firm, Frank Gehry had completed a very important project building the Davis Studio which was also Ron Davis’s home. Although this was not his first project, the design gave him incredible prestige with its slanted roof which made the house seem to rotate or twist. Presently, the home is owned by actor Patrick Dempsey and his family.

 Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex In Dusseldorf, Germany

The Neuer Zollhof Complex is made up of 3 office buildings created by Frank Gehry that turned the waterfront into an amazing harbor that is now called the Media Harbour. These buildings became so popular, that this enticed many other commissions for other architects including Fumihiko Maki and Murphy. The 3 building,s making up Neuer Zollhof, were so popular they have landed a place in history as a spot on the board of the German Edition of Monopoly!

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

The Chiat/Day Complex In Venice, CA

In 1991, Gehry built the Chiat/Day Complex for an advertising agency for their West Coast Branch. Due to its interesting shape, it is popularly known as the Binocular Building. The building sits on top 3 levels of underground parking garages that can hold up to 300 cars Entry to the parking areas is through the centrally located binoculars. The binoculars also have space for private conferences and research which all connect to the main conference room. There are also 2 rooms that following the shapes of the binoculars and the ceilings are covered with Gehry’s signature snake shape. These rooms were originally designed to serve as retreats. This complex was created in collaboration with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The building was designed like a ship’s prow and there are 3 tree trunks that flank a sculpture. The main entrance to the building has three elements that complement the surrounding neighboring areas. This complex has become home to 500 Google employees since 2011.

Underrated Architectural Styles

There are a lot of architectural styles that we remember when we think about architecture and its history, like the Ancient Greek, Gothic, Renaissance, Modernist and Post-modern style. However, there are a lot of other styles that are not only important to the history of architecture, but also can be an important inspiration to contemporary architects.

Here we present you six of these styles. They appear based only on chronological order.

ACHAEMENIAN IMPERIAL STYLE
The Achaemenian Imperial Style was the current style of the Persian Empire when it was ruled by the Achaemenian kings (from Cyrus the Great and Xerxes I to Darius III). There are only a few traces of what was built during this period of the Persian history, basically few columns and some bas-relief. However, this style still influences the contemporary Iranian architecture, like the Dariush Grand Hotel, in Kish Island, made by Hossein Sabet. The most famous structure of that style is the Apadana, in Persepolis. It was built between the 6th and 5th century B.C.

ANCIENT ISLAM
The Ancient Islam style started when Muhammad founded the Al-Haram Mosque or The Great Mosque of Mecca (630 A.C.) and ended when the Mongols destroyed the capital of Baghdad (1258 A.C.). This style heavily influenced Portuguese, Spanish and the Latin American colonial architecture, since the Muslin occupied Portugal and Spain during part of the medieval period. One of the most beautiful buildings of this style is the Prophet Mosque, in Medina, Saudi Arabia.

SACRED INDIAN STYLE
The first centuries of the second millennium saw a burst of Indian Sacred Architecture. From about 1000 A.C. to 1260, India became a strong country that wanted to establish itself as a superpower. To do this, part of its kings started to built temples to Hindu Gods. These temples follow the conceptual design of a combination of edicts, making it look like a series of fractal. The actual Indian Sacred Style is composed by the Valabhi, Phamsana, Latina, Sekhari and Bhumija styles. One of the greatest examples of the Indian Sacred Architecture is the Udayeshvara Temple, a temple made in the Bhumija style.

NEOGREEK
The Neogreek style was a revival style that appeared in Europe in the middle of the 18th century, after the Ottoman Empire lost the control of Greece and the works of James Stuart and Nicholas Revett about the ancient Greek art and architecture was released. It was one of the first revival style, but it didn’t earn enough recognition due to an “anti-greek” opposition made by some important architects of the period and due to the rise of the Neoclassical and the Gothic Revival style. However, it was still a strong style in Scotland until the late 1870’s, mainly because of the works of Alexander “Greek” Thomson in Glasgow, and in Germany, with the works of Karl Friedrich Schinkel. One of the most important work in this style is the Bank of England in London, made by Sir John Soane.

MEIJI STYLE
The Meiji Style is the style adopted by Japan during the period it started to modernize its country. In 1868, the Meiji Emperor started a program to modernize and industrialize its country. To make this, he encouraged the study of European architecture and engineering. On the first few years of this renovation, the Emperor hired a lot of European architects to work in Japan. However, In the early 1890’s, a lot of Japanese architects started to come from university, replacing the foreigners. This style is remembered because of its cultural hybridity and to be the first ones to use reinforced concrete in a Japanese architecture. One of the greatest examples of this architecture style is the Tokyo National Museum, made by Jin Watanabe.

PETITE ARCHITECTURE
The Petite Architecture is a style of contemporary architecture that first appeared in the early 1930’s in France. The idea was to build little, petite, houses that could be taken on trips. The first house that was done thinking in these concepts was the Bivouac Shelter, by Charlotte Perriand. After 50 years, the Petite Architecture Style gained a new breath, being adopted by architects in Japan, were it earned a more technological approach. The Japanese architects abandoned the mobile approach and used the Petite approach to build houses on small lands on Japanese metropolis. From the Japanese branch, one example is the Small House in Tokyo, made by Kazuyo Sejima.

The Exercise of Detail and Technique in Scarpa’s Works

Detail is an exercise connected with the representation of the act of construction.

To Gregotti[1], this exercise gives a form to the final architecture object, reveal the properties of the materials, the laws of construction and make the project decisions intelligible. However, he also says that our contemporary architecture has abandoned the exercise of detail to quote commercial and industrialized items, like windows, doors and structural elements. For Gregotti, every detail is a small communicative part of a building. A way to put meaning in an architectural project. To him, without the work on details, the connection between the whole and the small parts will be broken and, therefore, the message of the architecture can be compromised.

Leon Battista Alberti, an Italian architect of the Renaissance, says, in his ten books on the De Re Aedificatoria[2], that a good exercise in detail takes into account three concepts: Numerus, Finitio e Collocatio. Numerus is the use of repetition of certain elements so that those elements acquire a certain meaning or purpose, like the use of three doors make the middle door a focus point. Finitio is the use of proportion do define the relation between the detail and the whole or between two details, like a relation in size between that same middle door and the others side doors. The middle door can be made bigger to convey the message that it’s the central entrance. To finish, Collocatio is a functional way of setting details in order to show the history of the detail, how it was made, what it is made of or to make rational divisions on the building.

Santa Maria Novella Florence faade
Facade of Santa Maria Novella [3]
We can see this exercise in detail on the Alberti’s facade of Santa Maria Novella church. We can see the application of Numerus by repetition of openings and decorative elements. We can also see the use of Finitio in the relation between the bigger middle door and the two side doors, emphasizing the central position of the middle door. At last, there is the use of Collocatio in the rational use of the detail to divide the building in two, with a large line between these two parts, and in the way we can feel the natural pattern of the material just by looking at it. Despite the example of the façade of Alberti’s work, we are left with the question of how we can use the exercise of detail in a contemporary work, without appealing to the use of historical anachronism.

Carlos Scarpa and Veritti’s Tomb

Carlos Scarpa was also an Italian architect as Alberti was. However, Scarpa was a modern architect that didn’t use historical elements without a connection to his time. He was born in Venice, 1906, and was heavily influenced by the Italian materials, by other modernist architects, especially Frank Lloyd Wright, and by Japanese culture. Besides being an architect, he also was a good craftsman, knowing how to work with glass and wood, designing glass vessels and other furniture. According to Barba and Quintana[4], Scarpa career always aimed for the perfection in architectural detail.

One of Scarpa’s works that shows his attention to detail is the Veritti’s Tomb or Tomba Veritti (1951), located in the cemetery of S. Vito, Udine, Italy. This project is a tomb made of botticino marble, an Italian marble, with a table and a seat made of stone made as the Veritti’s family tomb. The tomb occupies an area of 22 m² or 236 ft². We enter the tomb passing through a short metal gate in a circular opening. The gate open in a circular motion, as seen in the images 2 and 3, forming a gateway/portal between the outside world of the living and the inside world of the dead[5]. The connection between the place of work and the place of thinking. On the side of this gate there is a semicircular vessel with cropped flowers inside of it.

Facade of Veritti’s Tomb [6]

Facade of Veritti’s Tomb [7]
On the inside we the the Verritti’s pit in front of the seat and table. Behind the pit there is a stone wall made of various sizes of rectangular stone covering. Above it, there is a circular metal roof. This roof is divided in three parts by two segments of line. In one of these lines we can read the word Pax, the Latin for peace, and on one of the roof quadrants we can see an opening in the form of a cross.

Inside of Veritti’s Tomb [8]
Inside of Veritti’s Tomb [9]
The details that we see in the inside and outside of the tomb makes the connection between the concepts that guided the whole of the project and the small parts of the building. Everything in this building was thought to be there, having a connection with a central idea. Part of the meaning of this building only make sense because of the details made especially for this project.

[1] GREGOTTI, Vittorio. 1996. The Exercise of Detail (1983). In: NESBITT, Kate. Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965 – 1995. New York, USA: Princeton Architectural Press.

[2] ALBERTI, Leon Battista. 1986. The Tem Books of Architecture: The 1755 Leoni Edition. USA: Dover Publications.

[3] FLORENCE FOR FREE. “The Basilica of Santa Maria Novella”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (https://florenceforfree.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/basilica-of-santa-maria-novella/).

[4] BARBA, José Juan; QUINTANA, Paloma de La. “The Architecture of Details: Palazzo Querini Stampalia by Carlos Scarpa”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (https://www.metalocus.es/en/news/architecture-details-palazzo-querini-stampalia-carlo-scarpa).

[5] REGIONE AUTONOMA FRIULI VENEZIA GIULIA COMUNE DI UDINE. “Catalogazione Delle Eclettico-Storicista ai Giorni Nostri e del Patrimonio Edilizio rurale Spontaneo e Proposte di Norme da Introdurre nel PRGC: Opere Cimiteriali Monumentali”. Retrieved July 12, 2018 (https://turistipersbaglio.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Cimitero-Monumentale-San-Vito-Udine.pdf).

[6] TRIPADVISOR. “Tomba Veritti”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (https://www.tripadvisor.co.nz/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g187814-d12188841-i313794311-Tomba_Veritti-Udine_Province_of_Udine_Friuli_Venezia_Giulia.html).

[7] FLICK. “Tomba Veritti”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7137/7813918750_16922387f3_o.jpg).

[8] CISA A. PALLADIO. “Udine, Tomba Veritti”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (http://mediateca.palladiomuseum.org/scarpa/web/foto_scheda.php?valo=i_6_408#).

[9] CISA A. PALLADIO. “Udine, Tomba Veritti, Copertura”. Retrieved July 11, 2018 (http://mediateca.palladiomuseum.org/scarpa/web/foto_scheda.php?valo=i_6_409).