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Gehry hopes to see Saadiyat museum before he dies

83-year-old celebrity architect 'worried' about timely completion

Gehry was in Abu Dhabi alongside Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel.
Gehry was in Abu Dhabi alongside Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel.

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Frank Gehry, the 83-year-old celebrity architect of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, is hoping that he will live to see his project completed.

The US-based designer was at Abu Dhabi Art for a panel discussion with other famous architects Lord Norman Foster and Jean Nouvel, attended by Middle East Architect.

Referring to his huge museum project, Gehry stated: “I’m 83, so I’m worried about if they are going to finish on time, so I can see it.”

The tongue-in-cheek comment was met with laughter by the packed audience in the Saadiyat Cultural Centre, close to the site of the Cultural District where all three architects have upcoming, yet delayed, museum projects.

In January 2012, it was announced by developer TDIC that Gehry’s Guggenheim is scheduled for completion in 2017, a year later than Foster’s Zayed National Museum and two years after Nouvel’s Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Gehry said he was initially wary about working on the project. He remarked: “I was hesitant because it was formidable to come over here. Once I came I fell in love with the region. It’s my only project in the region so I became very personally involved.

“I’ve done museums, I grew up with artists and I understood that culture. I was trying to understand what it meant to build here. What are the priorities…what’s the history, what’s the culture…Now I feel I have only scratched the surface. I wish I knew more. As this moves forward I will spend more time here.”

He continued: “I think this collaboration with the Emiratis has been very meaningful and I hope it results in a legacy.”

Lord Foster added: “I would agree with Frank, it’s a great environment here. It’s very progressive, there are lots of explorations and in a sense, this evening is a celebration of that.”

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