More than 1,100 people—including architects, students, and builders—gathered at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3, to see renowned architect Frank Gehry, founder and principal of Gehry Partners, and Dennis Shelden, chief technology officer of Gehry Technologies, receive the 2007 Henry C. Turner Prize for Innovation in Construction Technology. The award was presented by jury chair Norbert Young, president of McGraw-Hill Construction, and commended by Thomas R. Turner, vice president of Turner Construction Co.
The Henry C. Turner Prize recognizes achievements that have had a transformative impact on the built environment. Both Gehry Partners and Gehry Technologies have consistently pushed the boundaries of construction and engineering technology in their efforts to realize the complex and innovative architectural concepts that Gehry produces, many of which could not have been completed without technological assistance. Gehry accepted the award by saying, "I've gotten a lot of awards from the artsy side of the profession, but this one's from the meat-and-potatoes side, and that's pretty special."
During Gehry's acceptance presentation, in which he flipped through a slideshow of computer-generated engineering models, renderings, and schematics, he cited his firm's use of its own design software to deliver project data in a digitally integrated form to the building team as vital to the builder's and client's confidence in the design. Gehry believes that architects have forced builders into improvising during construction by designing without regard to how their designs can be executed. He maintains, however, that builders can construct anything they want to, as long as they are given enough information and are shown exactly how unusual structures and formations, such as Gehry's, can be executed.