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Frank Gehry Says 'L.A. Doesn't Take Architecture Seriously'

Frank Gehry at the unveiling of his Grand Avenue project in 2006. (Photo by cgkinla via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr)
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Acclaimed architect Frank Gehry, whose works include the Walt Disney Concert Hall, loves Los Angeles but not necessarily its architecture. He talks about "missed opportunities," including not being the one to design the LACMA building.

He tells Los Angeles Magazine he would have liked to design more buildings in L.A.

He was in the running to design buildings for MOCA and LACMA but lost both projects. "I still support both those institutions," he notes. He says he's happy enough having designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which he calls a "once in a lifetime" project.

Still, he says, L.A. has had a number of "missed opportunities" and that it hasn't yet really found its way, in terms of architecture and city planning.

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He's not the only one who's had a different vision for the city. The "Never Built" exhibit going on now at the Architecture and Design Museum features several visionary projects that never came to be, including Frank Lloyd Wright's Doheny Ranch, the Goodell Monorail, OMA/Rem Koolhaas' 2001 plan for the L.A. County Museum of Art, and John Lautner's 1960s plan for Alto Capistrano.

"Los Angeles doesn't take architecture seriously," the 84-year-old tells the magazine as they tour his studio at Playa Vista, "though I guess you could say that about most cities."

That doesn't mean he doesn't love L.A. "It's easy from outside to portray us as La-La Land, still easy for Europeans to come here and make jokes about us." Gehry was born in Canada but moved to L.A. in his late teens, where he quickly found himself right at home.

He's not fond of many of L.A.'s public buildings, including LACMA. He calls the art museum, which was designed by William Pereira, a prime example of unexciting architecture.

Gehry's other works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain; the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and 8 Spruce Street in New York City. In 2010, Vanity Fair called him "the most important architect of our age."

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Editor's note: This post has been updated as of Tuesday, July 30, 11:00 a.m.

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