Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

Residential Projects

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 06:36 min

Working with an architect is an enormous investment. Learn how you can honor your client's trust, and play an indispensable part in bringing their design goals to life.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Ask questions and listen • Keep the client involved • Be parental


I'm careful in who I sign up with. Maybe that's not normal in our field, but I try to understand the people, and what they're involved with, what their intentions are. When I sign up to do the work, if I don't feel comfortable, I pass. I try to figure out who the person is, what their intents are, what their experience is, what they've done, what they're interested in because once you get into it you're spending a lot of time with the people. The way I work, it's very personal. In the first few months of working with a client on a building you get to know them, you get to understand their-- what it is they're looking for. Why they want to do this, and why they're taking their hard earned savings to spend it on it. I mean, you have to respect all of that. You can't ignore that. That's a big deal. Doing houses is very difficult because it's usually a couple. Quite often they have differences of opinion, and quite often the process of working on their house brings out the worst in them. And quite often they split, and you get caught in the middle of it. I've had it happen a couple times. Sometimes it gets very personal, and funny. We try to keep it light. One should probably spend some time visiting their house where they live, and see what they collect, what they hold dear to themselves, and try and get a sense of who the people are, what's important to them. And then the functional issues are pro forma. You've got to know what their budget is, and what their program is. Do they want it all in very close quarters, or do they want it a little bit spread out? What's the land like? Can they spread out? Can they-- If it's tight, should they be on two floors? Discuss the neighborhood you're in with the client. Say, point out to them the kind of a aesthetic surround that they're in. Talk about the landscape. What kind of feeling in the garden, or a relationship to the outside. Do they want it to be more private, or more open? If you think about them, they're really kind of obvious that you want to know all that before you start designing. I make models of the site, models of that surrounds, blocking models of the program, and set it on the site. And start to explore relationships with the clients with the blocks, so that you know where the bedroom relates to the living room. You sort of play with blocks for a while as a way of talking about the program. The sketch models, the blocks are-- we do them quickly. So you can do-- you can run through 20 of those in a couple of weeks. The blocks are made to represent the scale of the rooms. You make these blocks and sort of guess where you're going with it. In that way, you can see how much of the site is covered within the boundaries you're allowed to build, and you can decide on putting a second story so you get more garden. The most difficult part is the person th...

About the Instructor

At 19 years old, Frank Gehry was a truck driver taking sculpture classes at night school. His vision for what architecture could accomplish went on to reshape our cities’ skylines and the imaginations of artists and designers around the world. In his online architecture class, this master builder invites you into his never-before-seen model archive for a look into his creative process.

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Frank Gehry

In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.

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