Gehry in Sydney

Words: Kat Chaousis Words: Kat Chaousis

One of the most influential architects of his generation, Frank Gehry’s collection of works to date includes such iconic designs as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Dancing Building in Prague, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and now The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, part of the University of Technology in Sydney. Getting under the skin of Gehry’s first Australian project, in Gehry in Sydney Liisa Naar and Stewart Clegg have created a rich visual narrative that exposes the perspectives of the work behind the wonder.

Frank Gehry is an architect unafraid to experiment and imagine. His passion for interaction and experience of design make his projects a mutually challenging yet invigorating partnership for both the architect and the client, and this book is a fascinating exploration of this unique relationship. Naar and Clegg have framed the project through chapters detailing the Context – how this structure would integrate and evolve with the landscape and its occupiers, the Commission – the challenge for change and looking at how UTS commenced their work with Gehry in reinvigorating the business school, the Drawings – which follows the journey of design through sketch, and Conversations – containing cherished insights from Gehry and his team through the difficulties of collaborating in unfamiliar territory.

“The power of innovation lies not in delivering what a client wants, but in delivering what they can’t even imagine”, say Naar and Clegg, as they tell the tale of the collaboration, calculation and craftsmanship that is behind Gehry’s brilliant work. They highlight that if it is anyone that can experiment with imagination and succeed in seeing it through to reality, it’s Gehry. “It is evident that clients commit to architectural projects in various ways: emotionally, institutionally, contractually and contingently. Innovative design practices such as Gehry’s require a further commitment that is implicit and therefore not easy to acknowledge. The practice’s previous accomplishments stalk the imaginations of today’s clients while the architect must respond to the specific considerations of this site, this brief, this budget and this client system,” Naar and Clegg explain.

An astonishingly brave project and a bold statement for a university seeking reinvigoration, the brief was one that sought to not just reinvent the look of the space but the culture of the university itself, challenging and changing both the students and faculty staff that occupy the space. Gehry in Sydney is a book that inspires with insight into the ground-breaking craftsmanship at work on a project of this scale. With dazzling imagery that document a remarkable contribution to the Sydney landscape, readers are taken on the dizzying journey from concept to construction and are certain to be left awe-inspired by the results.

Gehry in Sydney: The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, UTS
Edited by Liisa Naar and Stewart Clegg
RRP: $65.17
Published by The Images Publishing Group