The Philadelphia Museum of Art will present the first exhibition to focus on a single, critical project in the history of Frank Gehry’s firm and demonstrate how the architect’s ideas evolve throughout its design process. The Lewis House was a decade-long (1985-1995) residential commission for Peter B. Lewis in Lyndhurst, Ohio that began as a simple remodeling project but developed into a far more complicated and larger residence design that underwent various expansions, contractions and modifications. The project gave Gehry an unprecedented opportunity to experiment, and in the process, achieve the formal and technological breakthroughs that have informed all his later work and made him one of the most influential architects working today. While the Lewis House was ultimately not built, the project is unique for the sheer volume and range of work produced, and its relationship to Gehry’s other work, in Bilbao, Barcelona, Prague, Dusseldorf and Berlin – which is also represented in the exhibition. In collaboration with Gehry Partners, LLP, the Museum will present some 120 architectural models, drawings, photographs, and videos, together with furniture, and decorative arts, that show how the architect generates and processes ideas. Frank O. Gehry: Design Process and the Lewis House will be presented in the Collab Gallery of the Museum’s Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building.
The exhibition will include plans of the earliest Lewis House scheme, an axial composition of boxy geometric structures, and design process models made between 1992 and 1995, along with hand-drawn and drafted drawings that show the evolution of the house into an assemblage of increasingly fantastic, irregular components. As the models demonstrate, Gehry experimented with different materials in order to capture the way walls could curve or take on zoomorphic shapes. The models show him constantly reevaluating his forms and compositions, sometimes shifting elements back and forth between ongoing projects that also included furniture and industrial designs. Ultimately Gehry came to rely on computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing to engineer the complex geometries and free-form compositions of his buildings and commercial work, opening up new spatial and material possibilities that have changed the course of contemporary architecture and design. These designs are also reflected in the exhibition.
Frank O. Gehry: Design Process and the Lewis House is supported in part by Collab: The Group for Modern and Contemporary Design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and by Tiffany & Co.
This non-profit organization founded in 1970 raises funds for the Philadelphia Museum of Art's modern and contemporary design collection, which now includes over 2500 works. The collection ranges from appliances and furniture to ceramics, glass, and lighting. Collab presents its prestigious annual Design Excellence Award to a design professional who has made a significant contribution to the field. Past honorees include Florence Knoll Bassett, Milton Glaser, Michael Graves, Jonathan Ive, Maya Lin, Ingo Maurer, Richard Meier, George Nakashima, Karim Rashid, Philippe Starck with Ian Schrager, and Robert Venturi. Collab also promotes public understanding and appreciation of contemporary design through its educational initiatives, including sponsorship of symposia, lectures, tours, and a citywide, college-level student design competition.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Frank O. Gehry will receive Collab’s prestigious Design Excellence Award and give an illustrated subscription lecture about his work in the Museum’s Van Pelt Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on November 7, 2008. For reservations and tickets, call 215-235-7469.