Architect Frank Gehry’s work is inextricably connected to Los Angeles. And if L.A. is a city of neighborhoods, as is often said, Gehry’s trajectory and standing as a towering figure in his field can be traced back to Santa Monica and its adjacent communities.
The Toronto-raised Gehry, born Ephraim Owen Goldberg, arrived in L.A. with his family in his late teens in 1947, as the city was hitting its postwar expansionist stride. Soon, his path included driving a delivery truck, studying under ceramic artist Glen Lukens at the University of Southern California and a fateful introduction to architect Raphael Soriano at the modern home Soriano designed for Lukens, followed by military service. Next was a year immersed in city planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and travels through Europe.
The time away reinforced why Southern California called to Gehry, with its geography, unconventional creative fodder, and burgeoning avant-garde art scene. “Art gives you a sense of freedom,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1981. “There were rigid rules in architecture, and there don’t need to be.”