Frank Gehry gives journalist the finger

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"98 per cent of what gets built and designed today is pure shit"

Photograph by J. L. Cereijido / EPA

Frank Gehry gives journalist the finger was an incident that took place in Oviedo, Spain, in October 2014, where the architect was in attendance to receive a Prince of Asturias Award from King Felipe of Spain, for his notable achievements in the arts.[1]

At a press conference held the day before he was presented with the award, the opening question to Gehry was “what his response was to people who accused him of creating architecture for show”, to which the architect simply replied by raising his middle finger.[2]

After an uncomfortable silence, another journalist followed up on the impact of "emblematic" buildings in contemporary cities, to which the architect replied:

"Let me tell you one thing. In the world we live in, 98 per cent of what gets built and designed today is pure shit. There's no sense of design nor respect for humanity or anything. They're bad buildings and that's it. Every now and then, however, a small number of people do something special. They're very few. But - my God! - leave us in peace! We dedicate ourselves to our work. [...] At the very least, don't ask stupid questions like this."[3]

Peter Schjeldahl pointed out in The New Yorker that, by expressing his 'digital defiance', Gehry "consciously mimed the shape of today’s predominant urban architectural style", the 'insolent shafts' of new developments like 432 Park Avenue, "today's proliferating, meaningless urban menhirs."[4]

The incident came a week after Gehry had opened the new Foundation Louis Vuitton in Paris, which had met with fierce local opposition and was described by Guardian architecture critic Oliver Wainwright as " like a loud LV handbag a glitzy relative might bring you back from a duty-free splurge."[5]

The 85 year old architect went on to apologize for his Oviedo indiscretion, citing jetlag and explaining he had been caught in a "bad moment."[6]


  1. Peter Schjeldahl, "Frank Gehry’s Digital Defiance," The New Yorker, October 27, 2014, retrieved August 19, 2016.
  2. Martin Schneider, "Frank Gehry gives 98% of architecture the finger,", October 26, 2016, retrieved August 19, 2016.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Schjeldahl, "Frank Gehry’s Digital Defiance."
  5. Oliver Wainwright, "Frank Gehry's Fondation Louis Vuitton shows he doesn't know when to stop," The Guardian, October 21, 2014, retrieved August 19, 2016.
  6. Schjeldahl, "Frank Gehry gives 98% of architecture the finger."