Frank Gehry – Architecture Counterculture

Frank Gehry is an award winning architect who has been redefining the norm of architecture. Gehry was born in Toronto, Canada and graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture in 1954. Despite his prevalence in the more recent years, Gehry didn’t break from the traditional styles and designs of architecture for many years. His more famous works are anything but usual. He uses nontraditional materials to create visually stunning and unorthodox geometries.

The Neuer Zollhof in Dusseldorf, Germany. Photo: Nemanja Radovanovic/Alamy


His work has many critics who say that the designs have no thought towards the environment. One of his famous works, the Disney Center in Los Angeles, has reported that the structure radiates heat onto the sidewalk raising the temperature to 140 degrees F. This temperature is reportedly high enough to burn people walking by.

Walt Disney Concert Hall. Photo: Tuxyso.


I am fascinated by Gehry’s work. Actualizing his designs in the physical world have taken some serious efforts. The Olympic Fish Pavilion in Barcelona was created for the 1992 Olympic village used advanced aeronautical 3D modeling software and rigorous analysis in order to be built.

Photo: Zoonar/Vladyslav Danilin


Photo: Everett Collection/Alamy












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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Colin Neeson
    March 14, 2023 2:37 pm

    I was familiar with some of these buildings, but never knew who designed them. You definitely inspired me to look up more of his work. I always find it funny when buildings are built and they discover that it turned out to be a giant mirror that could direct sunlight to such a point it could melt a sidewalk.

  • Will Harris
    March 5, 2023 5:47 pm

    Gehry Technologies was one of the first to use parametric computing to generate buildings. That’s what enables such freeform NURBS surfaces. They still use their parametric architecture CAD called Digital Project ( to interpret Gehry’s paper-crumpling methods. (Nobody can crumple a piece of paper quite like Frank Gehry!)

    Digital Project competes with other BIM and parametrically driven software. Structures have specified rules and codes that must be adhered to, meaning that if the software parametrically enforces those rules, design becomes more streamlined between design and construction. It also prevents mistakes like pointless doors and stairwells that terminate poorly.

    The advisor for my independent study actually knows Frank, which floored me when I found out!

  • Hey Reed, I hadn’t heard of Frank’s work prior to this post but think it is incredibly cool. I like the metallic look and shiney-ness of the exteriors. I think it gives his designs a sort of futuristic or steampunk look in some cases. I also enjoyed the incorporation of the metallic mesh in the Olympic Fish Pavilion in Brazil and how it needed 3d modeling software to be completed. Represents both an architectural and engineering feat.


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