The Future Gets Built by the Dreamers: Celebrating Architect Frank Gehry on His Birthday

Celebrated architect Frank Gehry once described his creative process: “If you know where it’s going, it’s not worth doing.” As a child, Gehry was a dreamer. He spent hours of his young life building cities out of scraps of wood. He was mesmerized by the pliable nature of dough in his grandmother’s hands or the graceful movements of fish. These forms would inspire him throughout his life.

His parents worried he wouldn’t amount to anything, but Gehry carved his own path in the world, one architectural blueprint at a time. One of his buildings looks like it’s been wrapped in tinfoil. Another looks like it’s buried under a pile of paint chips. He often works with materials at which other architects would turn up their noses: plywood, chain link fencing, and corrugated metal. His unique style earned him the moniker of “the most important architect of our age.” Now in his 90s, Gehry is still hard at work. He says he is too busy to retire.

Part of Kar-Ben’s Jewish Heroes series, Frank, Who Liked to Build is the story of an artist who trusted his instinct enough to keep looking at the world in a new and different way. It’s an encouraging nod to the kids who tend to have their heads in the clouds. Who knows what they might dream up one day? Those of us planted solidly on earth just don’t have the same vantage point as those who aim to see the world from different angles.

Frank Gehry turns 93 on February 28, 2022.

Spread from Frank, Who Liked to Build

Frank, Who Liked to Build: The Architecture of Frank Gehry

  • Interest Level: Preschool – Grade 3  
  • Reading Level: Grade 2

One building looks like it’s been wrapped in tinfoil. Another looks like it’s buried under a pile of paint chips. Frank Gehry has been called “the most important architect of our age”. As a child, his parents thought of him as but nothing but a dreamer who wouldn’t amount to anything. Even so, Frank kept dreaming and playing, eventually following his passions and becoming an architect who created astounding buildings that to this day attract millions of visitors worldwide.

Being a Chicagoan, I know Frank Gehry’s work in our beloved Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Frank, Who Liked to Build gives young readers a fascinating introduction to the creative vision behind one of the greatest architects of our time.” — Sherri Duskey Rinker, author of the Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site Series

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