Architect Frank Gehry, creator of many acclaimed structures including the Pritzker Music Pavilion in downtown Chicago, was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama on Tuesday, November 22.

President Obama said Gehry had inspired the next generation through his advocacy for arts education, and that the architect had “never let popular acclaim reverse his impulse to defy convention.”

“He spent his life rethinking shapes and mediums, seemingly the force of gravity itself,” Obama said. “The idea of what architecture could be, he decided to upend; constantly repurposing every material available from titanium to paper towel tube…. Frank’s work teaches us that while buildings may be sturdy and fixed to the ground, like all great art they can lift our spirits. They can soar, they can broaden our horizons.”

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