"98% of what gets built today is shit"
says Frank Gehry


Frank Gehry to design New York offices for Facebook

News: Frank Gehry has responded to criticism of his own architectural style by giving an audience of journalists the middle finger and saying that most architecture today has "no sense of design".

Speaking to Spanish journalists yesterday at a press conference as part of the country's Prince of Asturias Awards programme for the arts, Gehry responded to questions about his work by giving journalists an offensive hand gesture and saying most architecture was "shit".

According to a report in Spanish newspaper El Mundo, a journalist asked the architect what his response was to people who accused him of creating architecture for show.

"Let me tell you one thing. In the world we live in, 98 per cent of what gets built and designed today is pure shit," responded Gehry after raising his middle finger. "There's no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They're bad buildings and that's it."

"Every now and then, however, a small number of people do something special. They're very few. But - my God! - leave us in peace! We dedicate ourselves to our work. I don't beg for work. I don't have publicists. I'm not waiting for people to call me. I work with clients who have respect for the art of architecture. At the very least, don't ask stupid questions like this."

According to the report, his response was followed by an uncomfortable silence at the press conference. Gehry then apologised, explaining that he was tired from travelling.

"Please, you have to understand that I'm tired and a little dazed by the trip," he said. "I'll mumble an apology."

Gehry had flown in from the opening on his Fondation Louis Vuittion building in France for the inauguration of an exhibition at the LABoral Art and Industrial Creation Centre, Gijón, dedicated to his Spanish projects – including his now famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.

The museum has been credited with transforming the economic fortunes of the city by generating a new tourism industry – an effect that many other cities have attempted to recreate since by commissioning projects they hope will become similarly "iconic". Gehry said he did not realise the building would have such an impact.

"Remember that in Bilbao, people got their degree at the university and then they left. Nobody wanted to live there. It was a sad city. The steel industry was in decline, the port had no reason to exist, everyone lost their jobs," said Gehry. "It was a modest project of 80 million Euros in 1997. It was very little."

Top image copyright of DBOX for Forest City Ratner.

  • Eric

    If you don’t like Gehry’s work, then you don’t have to commission him for your next building. He didn’t make his mark over and over and over again by building structures people didn’t like. His success is built upon satisfying his client, not ‘you’. It’s that simple.

  • cassandra

    Gehry is a one-trick pony. His one idea is so over.

  • Concerned Citizen

    His response and gesture shows everyone what an arrogant, self-important, conceited person he is.

  • matejdlabal
    • Abdull


      Gehry IS Gehry. What he said is right but what he did is not right. I agree that some shit architecture exists today and we’re suffering that. Sorry Gehry said that :)

  • studio

    He has provided his fair share.

  • Not anticipating a future acropolis here.

  • Carlos Filipe

    Gehry’s finger still exhibits “evidences” of his passage by Lisbon a couple of years ago. The mayor called him for a project hoping to ride on the star system glow of this architect on tour (like any rock & roll band).

    Gehry got paid in gold for trash proposals that had nothing to do with the town, the surroundings or with the history of the locale. There is a lot of “itinerant (bull…) artists” hired to stage shows. He’s right about the 98% shit. He knows well how to operate in this comedy of relations between dishonest politicians seeking for fame by hiring people like this one. They all will be gone one day, their “work” will stay.

  • matejdlabal

    I couldn’t agree more. I think he has a certain style, and unfortunately, his work is somewhat decreasing in quality. I especially love his “dancing building” in Prague, but recently some of his work might be included in that 98%.

    What he is saying is right though: we are not spending the time on designing that we perhaps should (because of time-financial pressure), or maybe some just get into the profession, without really having a certain feeling for what is right and what is wrong, resulting in “pure shit”.

    On the other hand, even though we are victims of this “pure shit”, I think that Gehry might have been a little less straight forward with his gestures and overall reaction. But maybe it’s good after all, because maybe that’s what people needed to hear, so that they could see.

  • Valeria

    His response was inelegant, such as a lot of his work is. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong nor bad, it’s just his style.

  • one in a million

    Gehry is a poet in our profession! Many quasi-architects don’t understand that, since they are autocad players, a crowd, a mediocrity… Never mind.

    Architecture should take your breath away, move your emotions and initiate some mental activities, if not, it is only the shelter. Think about that… And yeah, a finger is a polite way of saying what I would show.

  • o

    Tadao Ando belongs to that precious 2%.

  • &

    The question seemed reasonable to me.

  • AckBBak

    His designs are complete sh*t. Look at the disgusting contraption he destroyed the ROM with.

  • Alina

    It’s funny because Frank Gehry said it. 98% of Frank Gehry’s buildings are pure shit.

  • Amy Hall

    Frank Gehry is my favourite architect of all time.

  • Jon C

    He definitely belongs to the 98%. Doing something different doesn’t mean its responsible, relevant and creative.

    The reason he’s “up there” is probably built by good marketing and the social frenzy hype.

  • TruNYC

    Frank Gehry’s building are among the most expensive to maintain.

  • john Catao

    “All the people commenting here, go back to the hole you came from.” Frank Gehry

  • Tom Estes

    I think people are missing the point. What he is saying is that 98% of all buildings are not even designed by an architect. They are just bland buildings erected by engineers. Like some flat-pack piece of furniture from Ikea.