Architect Frank Gehry’s HouseDec 29th, 2010 | By Lindsay | Category: Celebrity Homes
One location that I stalked quite a while back, but have yet to blog about is the residence belonging to legendary 81-year old Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, a man who is perhaps best known for his contemporary designs of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, the Dancing House in Prague, the Experience Music Project in Seattle, and his new line of jewelry for Tiffany & Co. Gehry and his wife, Berta, purchased their pink Dutch Colonial-style Santa Monica home in 1977 and the architect immediately began a process of “deconstructivism” on it. Interestingly enough, he left the exterior of the home completely intact and untouched, but stripped down the interior to the point that only bare studs and wood framing remained. He subsequently set about rebuilding the interior with more modern-style elements and then proceeded to wrap the exterior of the original house with a new frame made of corrugated metal, plywood, glass, aluminum, and chain-link fencing, essentially wrapping the entire house with a brand new exterior.
According to the Arch Daily website, of the unusual design, the architect said, “I loved the idea of leaving the house intact. I came up with the idea of building the new house around it. We were told there were ghosts in the house . . . I decided they were ghosts of Cubism. The windows . . . I wanted to make them look like they were crawling out of this thing.” He also stated, “Here we are being surrounded by material that’s being manufactured in unimaginable quantities worldwide and is used everywhere. I don’t like it, no one likes it, and yet it’s pervasive. We don’t even see it. I noticed and started to find ways to beautify it. I wanted to take the curse off the material. It’s also why I made cardboard furniture. Cardboard is another material that’s ubiquitous and everybody hates, yet when I made the furniture with it everybody loved it.” Ironically enough, although he had received quite a bit of recognition prior to the remodel, it is Gehry’s Santa Monica house that is largely credited with putting the now-iconic architect on the map.
And while the unique abode became an architectural phenomenon virtually overnight, Gehry’s neighbors were not quite as appreciative of his aesthetic. Legend has it that one even went so far as to shoot at the house late one night in a show of protest! In 1991, Gehry angered both his neighbors and architectural enthusiasts alike when he once again remodeled the property, this time to meet the needs of his family – he had two growing teenage boys at the time who each wanted a room of their own. Architectural purists apparently feel that the most recent remodel makes the house appear too “finished”, but, as you can see above, the new design still retains quite a bit of rawness and the place is definitely still an acquired taste. In fact, the Grim Cheaper used to live just a few blocks away from the property and we would often drive by and marvel at the residence’s atrocity. It wasn’t until years later that we realized who the house belonged to and its architectural significance.
The oddest part of the property, in my mind at least, is the extensive use of chain-link fencing, which in most instances seems to appear virtually out of nowhere. And even though the residence is not really my cup of tea, I can’t recommend stalking it enough for the mere fact that there is literally no other place like it in the entire world.
Gehry’s house was hilariously recreated – animation-style – for the Season 16 episode of The Simpsons titled “The Seven-Beer Snitch”, in which Marge Simpson commissions Gehry, whom she calls “the bestest architect in the world”, to build a concert hall in Springfield. That concert hall winds up going bankrupt on its opening night and is later turned into the Springfield Prison.
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Frank Gehry’s house is located at 1002 22nd Street, at the corner of Washington Avenue, in Santa Monica.