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Award-winning architect Frank Gehry GSD ’57 ArD ‘00 is the recipient of the 2016 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony hosted by actor and Master of the Arts at Harvard John Lithgow ’67 ArD ‘05, who will moderate a discussion with the honoree. Presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard’s Learning From Performers program and the Board of Overseers of Harvard College, this is the official opening event for ARTS FIRST, Harvard University’s annual festival showcasing student and faculty creativity in the arts, April 28-May 1.
One of the most acclaimed architects of the 21st century and known for his use of bold, postmodern shapes and unusual fabrications, Frank Gehry was raised in Toronto, Canada, and moved with his family to Los Angeles in 1947. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1954, and studied City Planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Since establishing his practice in Los Angeles in 1962—and then forming his partnership, Gehry Partners, LLP, in 2001—Gehry has built an architectural career that has spanned over five decades and produced public and private buildings in America, Europe and Asia. He has served as a professor of architecture at Columbia University, Yale University and the University of Southern California, and also served as a board member at USC's School of Architecture.
Among his many official honors, Gehry was the 1989 recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize—an annual award honoring a living architect “whose built work demonstrates combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment, which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture.” His other significant awards in the architectural field include the Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize in Architecture, the Wolf Prize in Art (Architecture), the Praemium Imperiale Award, the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Award, the National Medal of Arts, the Friedrich Kiesler Prize, the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal, the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal, and the Prince of Asturias Award for the Arts.
Gehry’s most famous designs include the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Lost Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. Other notable projects include the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum Expansion at the University of Minnesota; Nationale-Nederlanden Building in Prague; DZ Bank Building in Berlin; Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; Maggie’s Centre, a cancer patient center in Dundee, Scotland; Jay Pritzker Pavilion and BP Bridge in Millennium Park in Chicago, Illinois; Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, Ontario; Peter B. Lewis Science Library in Princeton, New Jersey; New Campus for New World Symphony in Miami, Florida; Signature Theatre in New York City; House for the Make it Right Foundation in New Orleans, Louisiana; Biomuseo in Panama; and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, France.
Gehry’s current projects include King Street Development in Toronto, Ontario; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Battersea Power Station Development, London, United Kingdom; Grand Avenue Development, Los Angeles, California; Facebook Campuses in New York City, Seattle, London and Dublin; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; and the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C. Projects under construction include the LUMA / Parc des Ateliers in Arles, France; Divan Orchestra in Berlin, Germany; the Ohr O. Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi; and the West Campus for Facebook in Menlo Park, California.
The Harvard Arts Medal honors a distinguished Harvard or Radcliffe graduate or faculty member who has achieved excellence in the arts and has made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good. Previous Medal recipients include former ballet dancer and now arts leader Damian Woetzel MPA ’07; photographer Susan Meiselas EdM ’71; visual artist and essayist Catherine Lord ‘70; saxophonist/composers Joshua Redman ’91 and Fred Ho ’79; composers John Harbison ’60 and John Adams ’69 MA ’72; playwright Christopher Durang ’71; poets John Ashbery ’49 and Maxine Kumin ’41; cellist Yo-Yo Ma ’76; film director Mira Nair ’79; conductor and founder of Les Arts Florissants William Christie ’66; stage director Peter Sellars ’80; National Theatre of the Deaf founder David Hays ’52; authors John Updike ’54 and Margaret Atwood AM ’62 LittD ‘04; songwriter/musicians Bonnie Raitt ’72 and Pete Seeger ’40; and actors Jack Lemmon ’47, Tommy Lee Jones ’69 and Matt Damon ‘92.