Being Frank

One of the joys of travel is the unexpected. Nick Bannikoff experienced this on a recent trip to Japan when discovering an exhibition on the working process of Frank Gehry. Put on by the excellent 21_21 Sight design gallery (itself created by design doyens Tadao Ando and Issey Miyake) one of the three key projects shown was Sydney’s own Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at UTS.

Combined FG Models_2


One of the interesting juxtapositions was the use of both ancient and new technologies in the creation and development of Gehry’s work. The studio begins with simple functional space block studies that are developed back and forth with Frank’s famously expressive sketches, gradually moving from simple timber forms to warped plastic, canvas and paper.

Gehry Sketchy Hall 3



At this stage it is modern technologies that allow the vision to become a reality. The complexity of Ghery’s buildings are such that he has developed his own Building Information Management system to ensure not only buildability but that projects are always on budget, a fact that the surprisingly pragmatic architect takes great pride in.


The exhibition is peppered with Frank’s quotes and one in particular caught Nick’s eye, proving that even design gurus experience the same self-doubt as the rest of us mere mortals.

“I’m self-critical, so when the building is finished I always hate it. It takes me a couple of years to get over it.”