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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.

Interesting view to see our professional future ... a great professor ... a great man

A great lecture on the thoughts and actions of an incredible architect. As an architect, this has helped to refocus me and helped me get re-energized in a very demanding and tough industry.

Frank is the most architect that is criticized for his works and his style of dealing with things and this is what makes him so special to me. amazing

The instructor was honest which in-turn gave me connection to him as a human first then as a Master Architect. We all have a creative voice. The instructor gave us insight into how he is able to express his voice. Very useful video


Comments

Primus B.

The way he explains the process of the ideas to models, then to drawings, and building is so clear for anyone to understand. I feel that anyone no matter what the profession is should know how to keep it simple. Frank makes a process that is complicated simple. I also like the idea of really working on being a master builder. I have worked on commercial projects on the contractors end and I've never been a part of a project that had no change orders.

A fellow student

I am doing my first house, to me, the course ... quite helpful and so appreciate to Frank!

Amy L.

I am so touched by Frank's genorisity in sharing with us his insight, experience and life story. This level of honesty does resonate with me in a profound way. I found this class very inspiring and helpful even though I am a photographer, not an architect.

Holly M.

A lot of important information in this lesson. It's incredible to me that firms don't pay their interns in every state. It's ethically wrong not to pay people for their work. I live in Texas, where the AIAS approached the legislature here to pass laws requiring all interns, regardless of profession, be paid a living wage because most of us have expenses we have to pay and free labor is akin to slave labor.

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!