The light-frame construction as a design resource in the work of Frank O. Gehry (1978-1997)


  • Ezequiel Collantes Universidad del País Vasco



framework, project, houses, Fish, Guggenheim


This article analyses the role of light-frame construction as a design resource in Frank Gehry’s work between 1978 and 1997. It carries out a historical-critical analysis of his work over this period, identifying three different stages. The first stage (1978-1987) includes residential projects in which Gehry experimented with a variety of simple combinations of forms based on lightweight framing. The second stage (1983-1992) includes the Fish projects, characterised by a search for complex forms through adaptations of this construction technique. The third and final stage (1991-9997) includes the Guggenheim Museum, a project which he based on the complex assemblage of contorted light-frame units. The use of lightweight framing as a design resource in Gehry’s work includes two main dimensions: on the one hand, the creation of one-room-house blocks involved annexation and stacking. On the other, the constant subversion of the conventions of light-frame construction generated spatial, formal and perceptive complexity. Both avenues of exploration provided a means for Gehry to evolve his architecture in the period addressed in this paper. This research demostrates that lightweight framing is at the core of many of Gehry’s projects.


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Author Biography

Ezequiel Collantes, Universidad del País Vasco

E.T.S. Arquitectura


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Research articles
Received 2022-01-27
Accepted 2022-09-01
Published 2023-04-28