AIA Gold Medal 1999


Frank Gehry

On February 6, Frank Gehry received the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects, joining personages like Jefferson, Wright and Kahn in a hall of fame heretofore inexplicably inaccesible to one of the most popular American architects of the second half of the 20th century. With the Pritzker and the Praemium Imperiale among the many prizes already in his possession, this Toronto-born Californian accepted the medal with the emotion of one who finally feels recognized by his closest colleagues. Maintaining the freshness with which he transformed his own house in Santa Monica, projects like the Vitra chair museum at Weil am Rhein or the Nationale Nederlanden offices in Prague earned him the reputation of an artist-architect and rebel builder. But it is the Bilbao Guggenheim, with its vertiginous forms and titanic reflections that has consecrated Gehry definitively. In quest of the same resonance that its Basque branch has produced, the New York Guggenheim wants another building of the kind on Manhattan’s West Side; it would be up to Gehry to prove that sequels can indeed be good.

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