Frank Gehry is one of the most renowned architects of all time and his creations have left their mark on a great number of cities around the globe. Every time a new project by the 88-year-old Canadian is announced, the structure’s prospective home town immediately starts to make the cover pages of design magazines and its tourism industry is boosted.
Here are 10 of Frank Gehry’s most iconic and most recognizable structures that have forever influenced the cities in which they stand.
- Dancing House – Prague, Czech Republic, 1996
The Nationale Nederlanden Building, nicknamed Dancing House or Fred and Ginger originally sparked controversy when it was built between 1992 and 1996.
The eccentric building, designed by Croatian-Czech architect Vlado Milunic in cooperation with Frank Gehry, is located right next to the Vltava river and surrounded by Baroque, Gothic and Art-Nouveau buildings which make it look like a complete alien structure. The former President of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, lived right next to the office building for decades and was an avid supporter of the project amid wide ranging criticism. The Dancing House is today one of Prague’s most famous modern buildings and has undermined the original wave of opposition.
- Der neue Zollhof – Düsseldorf, Germany, 1999
The new Zollhof, also called Gehry Centre, is a set of modern buildings on the Rhine’s riverbanks, each standing out with a different façade and variable structural traits. The site is part of a wide-ranging redevelopment plan for the capital city of North Rhine Westphalia which has given the city a unique modern feel to it. The buildings essentially house offices and stand out most of all because of their overlapping design which makes them look like a sculpture. The site has become a popular landmark and an teeming tourist attraction.
- Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, California, 2003
Walt Disney Concert Hall is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center and was financed partly by a 50M $ gift from Lilian Disney. The 2265 seater hall is among others home to the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
While Frank Gehry was at the helm of the architectural design, the acoustics of the building are the work of the well-known Japanese engineer Minoru Nagata. The concert hall was finished in 2003 and both its futuristic design and its quality as a music venue have earned critical acclaim upon the building’s completion.
- New York by Gehry at Eight Spruce Street – NYC, 2011
The 78-storey skyscraper at Number 8 Spruce Street stands at 265m tall making it one of the tallest residential towers in Manhattan and a genuine New York icon. The building adheres to the architectural style of Deconstructivism, a post-modern style giving the impression of a split, fragmented structure. The tower contains 904 high-end flats, an elementary school, a hospital and other public facilities.
- Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao, Spain, 1997
The Guggenheim Museum in the Basque metropolis of Bilbao is arguably Frank Gehry’s most significant creation in Europe. In addition to being a world-renowned art institution, the Guggenheim has cemented Bilbao’s success as a tourist destination. The construction of the Guggenheim has in fact catapulted the number of foreign visitors to Bilbao from 100k in 1999 to 700k in 2011 and the museum has injected more than 2.4B € into the Basque economy, according to The Guardian.
- Biomuseo – Panama-City, Panama, 2014
The Biomuseum in the Panamanian capital is one of Gehry’s most recent creations and his first in Latin America. Located on the city’s famous Amador Causeway, the playful design of the building has rejuvenated Panama-City, delivering a stark contrast to the soulless tower blocks that constitute most of Panama’s cityscape. The museum hosts 8 exhibitions mostly about Panama’s natural and indigenous history. The structure has in fact, like the Guggenheim in Bilbao, boosted Panama’s tourism numbers since its opening in 2014, albeit on a smaller scale.
- Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) – Seattle, Washington, 2000
The MoPOP project was launched by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen as a non-profit museum in 2000. Since its inception, the museum has organized dozens of exhibitions in the fields of Pop Music, popular culture and science fiction movies. The Gehry design was aimed at emulating the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the materials used were similar as well. The museum, formerly called Experience Music Project was completely rebranded in 2016 in order to adapt the cultural institution to the new creative world and to attract a higher number of visitors.
- El Peix d’Or – Barcelona, Spain, 1992
El Peix d’Or means the golden fish in Catalan and was constructed as an artwork for the Olympic Games in 1992, which took place in Barcelona. The structure is comprised of a specific type of metal which frequently changes its colour and appearance, depending on the sunbeams’ intensity. The 35m high fish is today one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks and a popular tourist attraction.
- Norton House – Venice, California, 1984
Frank Gehry designed this small eccentric house in Venice Beach in 1984 for artist Lynn Norton and writer William Norton. The couple had in fact seen Gehry’s own house in Santa Monica and commissioned a building in the same style, using every day-low cost materials and assembling them in order to create a sculptural house. Even 33 years later, the Norton House has remained a popular picture spot in Venice Beach and it still looks like it was designed yesterday.
- Frederick Weisman Museum of Art – University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, 1993
The Weisman Art Museum, named after the famous Minneapolis native and art collector Frederick R. Weisman, stands on the campus of the University of Minnesota and houses over 25,000 works of art. The collection includes Marsden Hartley, Alfred Maurer and Charles Biederman but also native American Mimbres pottery. Frank Gehry designed the building using a stainless-steel façade which perfectly blends into the existing brick and sandstone buildings on the campus. The building is now a major landmark in Minneapolis and overlooks the Mississippi River.