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Good as Gehry

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The choice of Frank Gehry as Gold Medallist will be a popular one, not least because of his ready wit and generous spirit. Although now one of the great figures of West Coast architecture, Frank is Canadian by origin. As a schoolboy during World War II, he once had to sing 'There'll Always Be an England' while standing in an honour guard for the Duke of Kent. Perhaps we will get some other reminiscences when he comes to London to receive his medal, the first individual architect to do so for three years. Never afraid to be controversial, he once described working for the Disney Corporation as like 'jumping into a vat of jelly'; on a tour of Eurodisney shortly before the opening, he amused the world's assembled architectural journalists by referring to his conical tower with a horizontal slit near its top as 'my Ku Klux Klan building', though whether the Disney hosts were amused is less clear. But what of his latest buildings? His European Guggenheim is still packing them in; anyone who disapproves of that building is clearly suffering from Irritable Bilbao Syndrome.

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