Design & Style, Arts & Entertainment

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.

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

Topics include: Putting a team together • Focus on adding technical staff • Encourage participation and empower your employees


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...

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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