Conversations with Frank Gehry by Barbara Isenberg

“Surprising . . . Conversations reveals an architect every bit as engaging as his buildings.”
-Steven Kurutz, The New York Times

An unprecedented, intimate, and richly illustrated portrait of Frank Gehry, one of the world’s most influential architects. Drawing on the most candid, revealing, and entertaining conversations she has had with Gehry over the last twenty years, Barbara Isenberg provides new and fascinating insights into the man and his work.

Gehry’s subjects range from his childhood—when he first built cities with wooden blocks on the floor of his grandmother’s kitchen—to his relationships with clients and his definition of a “great” client. We learn about his architectural influences (including Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright) and what he has learned from Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Rauschenberg.

We explore the thinking behind his designs for the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall, the redevelopment of Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Grand Avenue in Los Angeles, the Gehry Collection at Tiffany’s, and ongoing projects in Toronto, Paris, Abu Dhabi, and elsewhere. And we follow as Gehry illuminates the creative process by which his ideas first take shape—for example, through early drawings for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, when the building’s trademark undulating curves were mere scribbles on a page. Sketches, models, and computer images provided by Gehry himself allow us to see how so many of his landmark buildings have come to fruition, step by step.

Conversations with Frank Gehry is essential reading for everyone interested in the art and craft of architecture, and for everyone fascinated by the most iconic buildings of our time, as well as the man and the mind behind them.

An excerpt from Barbara Isenberg’s conversations with Frank Gehry:

Barbara Isenberg: Do you have a favorite time when you’re working on a building?
Frank Gehry:
Yes. It’s when I have the plans and the scale right for both the neighborhood and the project in block form, before I make these curved shapes, before I do anything. When I get to that point, I feel comfortable that this is where we’re going to go, and the next move is just to finish the detailing, materials and character of the shapes. It’s what I call being in the candy store, because that’s the fun part. It’s also the most scary part because it’s the unknown. I start sketching and trying things until, all of a sudden, something emerges that becomes interesting and I sort of follow it. But it’s intuitive. It’s not preconceived. I don’t have an exact plan of action, and I always feel like I’m leaping off a cliff.

BI: Do you feel like you’re taking your collaborators with you?
I collaborate with people on projects because it enriches the mix and gets you somewhere else that you wouldn’t have gotten to otherwise. When it’s really working, it is like holding hands and jumping off a cliff together.

Click here for Barbara Isenberg’s tour schedule.