Past Exhibitions

Frank Gehry at the Soane

Designs for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and new Projects
(7 May to 19 June 1999)

DG Bank, Berlin, 1995

Anyone visiting Sir John Soane's Museum between 7 May and 19 June will imagine Frank O. Gehry has set up his office here. Soane's Yellow Drawing Room will contain an installation inspired by Gehry's office in Santa Monica, presenting his designs for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and for more recent projects. It is the first exhibition by Frank O. Gehry in Britain - and the first exhibition by a living architect at Sir John Soane's Museum.

Work-tables from the office in Santa Monica will be cluttered with sketches, computer visualisations and the multi-coloured process models with which he creates a design, using metal, wood, silver-foil, paper or glass. Imagining the Bilbao Guggenheim, for example, he created patterns of bursting flower petals in silver-foil. Chairs designed by Gehry will replace those designed for the Drawing Room by Soane himself.

Frederick R Weisman Museum, Minneapolis, 1991-1993

The exhibition continues in the Soane Gallery with 20 original sketches chosen by Mr Gehry illustrating his conceptual ideas for the Guggenheim and for other projects earlier in his career.

Gehry is most celebrated for the phenomenon of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, which opened in November 1997 and has since been visited by nearly two million people. He is now the most celebrated and in-demand architect in the world. What next for Frank Gehry?

Nationale-Nederlanden, Prag/Prague

Gehry has chosen to exhibit projects currently being designed or constructed, and these are perhaps even more startling in appearance. Featured are: Pariser Platz 3, Berlin, an office building currently under construction, its atrium filled by an astonishing sculpture of a horse's skull; the Experience Music Project in Seattle, a multi-media experience evoking Jimi Hendrix; and the Weatherhead Business School at Cleveland, Ohio. Completed projects on show include the Nationale-Nederlanden Building in Prague, dubbed 'Ginger and Fred' by the locals, and the glittering fish designed for the Olympic Village in Barcelona in 1992.

Gehry's unique style depends on a unique process of design, and this is the focus of the exhibition. In his office at Santa Monica there are 120 architectural staff, and 90 of these are making models. After an initial sketch by Gehry each project is fleshed out in a series of models, a technique which preserves the sculptural vitality of his original vision. These are not intended for presentation to a Planning Committee or a client: they are studies which explore an idea, like a sculptor modelling a clay maquette.

Frank Gehry's Santa Monica studio installed in the Drawing Room © Geremy Butler

Although Gehry's designs are finalised in model form, they cannot be realised without computer technology, due to the complexity of the interlocking curves. Gehry uses a software called CATIA, designed in France for the design of Mirage jets and adapted by a team of aeroplane designers who are also in his office. Video screens will play these computer sequences.

The exhibition is based upon Frank O. Gehry: The Architect's Studio, a ground-breaking exhibition organised by the Louisiana Museum in Denmark earlier this year. This show was curated by Kirsten Kiser, who has also created the Soane exhibition.

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