This week, one of my professors described what we as students would experience once we began working in the field. The basis of the lecture went something like this; “What you must do is read, read, and then read some more. In doing so you will develop your own internal library to rely upon, trust me you will need it. The architectural design process can be frustrating; there will be days when the ideas are not flowing. You will become stuck. However, if you have a library of architecture stuffed into your back pocket, it will make your life much easier.”
“There will never be a dull day; there will never be a single day that is the same as the last or the one before the previous. Also, there is no way that you will be able to learn all that there is to know about architecture. It is simply not possible; there are not enough hours in a day or days in a lifetime to acquire all the knowledge.” I find this portion of the lecture to be liberating and intimidating at the same time. It is liberating in respect to the day to day dynamics of design, on the contrary, it is intimidating in the sense of an individual’s attempt to acquire everything necessary to become an architect with integrity.
There was a defining moment in Gehry’s career, a moment where he decided through encouragement from a friend to stop settling for clients who did not share his vision. This exact moment is defined in the documentary titled "Sketches of Frank Gehry" by Sydney Pollack. Basically, Gehry had just attended the grand opening of a lackluster building (Santa Monica Place) he had designed. Afterwards he invited a few colleagues back to his home. The recently renovated home spoke for itself, revealing for the first time what Gehry was actually capable of. The colleague in particular asked Gerhy, “What exactly is going on here?” Later stating, “If this is you, then you must not like the building we just came from.” Gehry replied “No, I do not, but I must pay the bills.” At this point the colleague said “Well then just stop it.” Gehry answered “You know what, you are right, I will.”
Anyone who has seen “SoFG” knows that it is an intimate documentary. The reason I believe that this film has the feel of a relaxed Sunday afternoon is it was made by Gehry’s friend Sydney Pollack who openly admits he knows not the first thing about architecture. Many people have approached Gehry wanting to document his work and design process; luckily for you and me he said “No”. For those of you who are architects or students of architecture and have not seen the film, I recommend you watch it as soon as possible. It is not very often that you get the opportunity to look into a contemporary master’s head and see how he has developed his personal process of building design. It is intriguing to watch from a design stand-point, as my professor stated earlier “there is not a dull moment” in the film.
Post Script: My class has entered a national design competition, one project from third or fourth year goes. We are working in teams of five in my class (third year), I’ll keep you posted on the results.