Frank Owen Gehry was born in Toronto on February 28, 1929. His family moved to Los Angeles eighteen years later, where he obtained a degree in architecture from the University of Southern California in 1954. From 1956 to 1957 he studied city planning at the Graduate School of Design at Harvard.
Upon his return to Los Angeles he worked with several firms, including Hideo Sasaki, Pereira & Luckman, Victor Gruen & Associates, and André Remondet, before founding Frank Gehry and Associates in 1962. His architectural notoriety took an upturn in 1978 when he remodeled his own home, a modest bungalow in Santa Monica, with industrial materials including chain link fencing, corrugated metal, wire reinforced glass, and plywood.
Frank Gehry’s freehand sketches are nearly as iconic as his architecture (See a sketch of the Winton Guest House here (PDF)). Gehry will sketch a project at all stages of design in order to “understand the problem, its scale, context, budget, and constraints.” He likes to draw in private as he “searches for the answer” and “looks for the idea.”
Gehry also relies heavily on models to articulate his design intentions and to show himself, his associates, and clients the end result. Materials for early modeling includes cardboard and paper that are easily cut, crumpled, and reformed into a more appropriate vision, or easily disregarded when new inspiration strikes.
Gehry and his team make many models throughout the design process, including ones of wood, either painted or left natural. The team often works in two or three scales simultaneously so that, as Gehry states, “he does not get too attached to the object.”