Frank Gehry gives journalist the finger

Architect describes 98% of modern architecture as ‘pure shit’ during press conference in northern Spain

Frank Gehry has described 98% of modern architecture as “shit” and given a journalist the middle finger salute at a press conference.

Gehry, architect of many renowned buildings such as the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, was in Oviedo in northern Spain to collect the prestigious Prince of Asturias prize, which King Felipe of Spain was due to present on Friday.

A press conference in Oviedo on Thursday got off to a bad start when a journalist asked whether Gehry’s own architecture was just about spectacle. Gehry’s response was to give the journalist the finger.

A long silence followed before a different reporter asked whether “emblematic buildings” such as his would continue to be a feature of modern cities.

“Let me tell you one thing,” he replied. “In this world we are living in, 98% of everything that is built and designed today is pure shit. There’s no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else. They are damn buildings and that’s it.

“Once in a while, however, a group of people do something special. Very few, but God, leave us alone. We are dedicated to our work. I don’t ask for work … I work with clients who respect the art of architecture. Therefore, please don’t ask questions as stupid as that one.”

Gehry, 85, went on to say that “Bilbao shows that good architecture can make a difference”. The Guggenheim helped to transform what was an industrial city in decline into a tourist destination and a hub of cultural activity.

The Canadian architect later apologised for his behaviour, explaining that he had jet lag and had only just arrived at the hotel. The journalists “caught me at a bad moment”, he said.



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