Design, Photography, & Fashion

Working With a Team

Frank Gehry

Lesson time 8:28 min

If you're thinking of hiring a partner, or working for one, listen to these best practices Frank has honed over the years. The key? It starts with respect.

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Frank Gehry
Teaches Design and Architecture
In 17 lessons, Frank teaches his unconventional philosophy on architecture, design, and art.
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When I started in practice, I couldn't afford a very big team. I was doing a little bit of teaching. And I met a young guy, Pawel Lewicki. And he came to visit and started working with me. And, you know, a few people fell in. Like, we had three or four. And it was a small team, so we were very friendly. We went to lunch together, and dinner, and talked a lot, and complained about everybody. And we built little buildings, and houses, and things. At that point, I had in mind that if somebody stayed with the office more than five years, they would become contaminated and would have a hard time regaining their own voice. This was my fantasy. And so I kicked them out at five years. I said, if you stay longer here, you're damaged goods. So you've got to get out and find your own way. And we did that to a lot of people. And they did go the wrong way. So over the years, I guess I've created a personal rut, I might call it, of how I work, that's kind of comfortable. We built kind of a group of talented young people around us, who I'm used to working with, usually with three, four, or five years before they go off to make their own way. So now it's different than then. So now the office has gotten bigger. It took a long time to do it, but we developed a highly skilled technical staff that can really deliver buildings on time, on budget, and without flaws, without leaking, without all that stuff. In the early days, you couldn't have that team. People with that kind of expertise were working in big offices. They weren't risking their lives, their families livelihood, and so on by coming to work with weirdos. So it was hard to get high-powered technical people to work. It's not just going to the computer, and creating a form, and then building a 3D model of it, and building it, and walking away. Now a lot of people do that now. Because of the computer, you can fool yourself that you can do it maybe. But I think in the end, you need to build this incredible staff that knows how to put things together and can pass muster in the field in foreign countries. Like we're doing a project in London, and my people are over there constantly meeting with the clients and developing curtain wall and construction techniques with them. That ain't easy. You need really skilled and experienced people to do that. And so I think you start slowly, but you've got to focus on that as a value from the beginning. I love to know the people. They become friends. I'm interested in their development as well, watching them grow and see if there's an opportunity to help them build. Because that helps the whole team, when they can rise to the occasion. When I'm in the studio with them, I'm not the big boss and telling them what I'm-- we're pretty friendly and talk pretty openly about what we're doing and what we're trying to do. I love it wh...


Create the extraordinary

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.



Reviews

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

I hang on every word. So happy to have found this Masterclass with Frank Gehry!

This class helped me to realized about how I am thinking. It's really interesting that many Gehry's notes are transferable to other fields (like marketing where I'm working). I also discovered that I should more studying art, because it can be very inspiring for architects.

This masterclass was truly inspiring. I am not an architect. I took it because I was fascinated with the way Frank gehry´s mind works when he is creating. For me, as a writer and filmmaker it was very thought provoking. Arts nurture other art forms, so I think we must look at the different ways of human expression and how they interact with each other. Great course.

The mentioning of dificulties and psychological aspects was very comforting, as I no longer feel being the only one struggling with these aspects of the work. And I am grateful to know that there is someone else trying to work ethically and for the benefit of all. I no longer feel being the only "alien".


Comments

PJ

great course, thank you Frank, i really enjoyed it. like the fact you pay your interns. cannot believe how many companies take advantage of that, especially in the film business. you are a man of integrity.

Suchada

It would be nice to be empowered and encouraged to participate in all company projects, I hope to be treated that way too.

Mia S.

"Even the newest kids, I'll invite them to say what they think. Sometimes it's relevant, sometimes it's not - it does create a sense of community by asking them. They can think about it beyond the meeting and come up with ideas and say things, like 'Hey, I don't like that,' 'What are you doing?' It's just kind of an open system of being able to say things, not feeling like you have to keep your mouth shut. Does it lead to a breakthrough architecture change in a project? Sometimes. When I did Beekman, I had a young designer, I said to her, 'Do you know the difference between Bernini folds and Michelangelo folds?' and she said yes. 'Would you put Bernini fold skin on the model for me?' She knew exactly what I was talking about, and it became the model that then we messed with windows and developed curtain wall for and everything. She had talent, she could make the thing. She didn't have all the experience, but she was able to connect with me on that building, that tower. I think of her as part of that process that led to that, and I credit for her it. That's an ideal that happens from time to time, and I love it when that happens. I don't know where she is now, but that's a real talent. Courage - it took courage for her to do that, and I love that."

Mia S.

"I think in the end you need to build this incredible staff that knows how to put things together and can pass muster in the field in foreign countries... That ain't easy, you need really skilled and experienced people to do that. I think you start slowly, but you've got to focus on that as a value, from the beginning. I love to know the people, they become friends. I'm interested in their development, as well, watching them grow and see if there's an opportunity to help them build. That helps the whole team, when they can rise to the occasion. When I'm in the studio with them, I'm not the big boss and telling them what - we're pretty friendly, and talk pretty openly about what we're doing and what we're trying to do. I love it when there's a feeling of their involvement, and I know they're intimidated by me as we work, so I try to lessen that intimidation by talking to them, and including them, and making them part of it, riffing on their names, whatever - whatever I can do that comes to mind to make them feel like we're friends, together, working on this, and that I need their support, that I'm counting on them. I've always done that. When you do that, they are part of it. They are playing with the materials and the forms and stuff with me, and feel a communal ownership, in a certain way. I know I direct it finally, but if you talk to them, I think you'll understand that they have feelings of being participatory. Developing participatory activity is really healthy."

Mia S.

"When I started in practice, I couldn't afford a very big team. I was doing a little bit of teaching, a few people fell in, we had three or four, it was a small team, so we were very friendly, we went to lunch together and dinner and talked a lot, and complained about everybody. We build little buildings and houses and things. At that point, I had in mind that if somebody stayed with the office more than five years, they would become contaminated and would have a hard time regaining their own voice. (This was my fantasy.) So I kicked them out at five years, said, 'If you stay longer here, you're damaged goods. You've got to get out and find your own way.' We did that to a lot of people, and they did go their own way. Over the years, I guess I've created a personal rut of how I work, that's kind of comfortable. We build kind of a group of talented young people around us, who I'm used to working with, usually with three, four, or five years before they go off to make their own way. Now it's different than then, now the office has gotten bigger, it took a long time to do it, but we developed a highly-skilled technical staff that can really deliver buildings on time, on budget, and without flaws, without leaking. In the early days, you couldn't have that team - people with that kind of expertise were working in big offices. They weren't risking their lives, their families' livelihood and so on by coming to work with weirdos, so it was hard to get high-powered technical people to work. It's not just going to the computer, creating a form, then building a 3D model of it and walking away. A lot of people do that now, because of the computer, you can fool yourself that you can do it, maybe."

Vikas D.

Empowering the team and giving them the due credit differentiate a true master from others!

Larissa S.

"Participatory activity is healthy. " I agree with it. Collaborative work bring new knowledge, experiences exchanges for both. In any case, working in the team should constitute one group that can lean toward each other. And also it must be there respect for co-workers and colleagues. In any case, associates must develop good communication among themselves. Because teamwork without communication can create many problems.

Michela G.

What Gehry says is very beautiful. Working for a person of his greatness must be a very educational experience both from a technical and a human point of view.

mara D.

great lesson! the sense of the community is everything for a good job, when it get lost from the top the work is compromised

Darya Z.

I deeply respect Mr Gehry's openness to other people's ideas while designing. Not only he listens to aspiring architetects who work for him, besides the fact that they may not have a lot of experience, he encourages them to speak up and develop their own ideas, even if they can contradict with his. I wish every person who is entering an architecture office could have a chance to have such a receptive and respective mentor as Mr Gehry.