Skip to content

A Classic

What Mr. Gehry is saying, then, is that there can be beauty in such harsh elements when they are carefully wrought and precisely put together, that they can create a new kind of order which can yield as much physical ease and comfort as a conventional house. – Paul Goldberger

I just got back from LA where I went to the Gehry House for the first time in almost fifteen years. If you don’t know, the existing house was bought in Los Angeles the 1970s and then remodeled by Gehry. It is iconic modernism and deconstructivism. It has won the 25-year AIA 2012 Building award.

Frank Gehry’s architecture comes with a slew of descriptors: innovative, sensuous, modern. But the Gehry House in Los Angeles is a classic. And I know it’s hard to believe that one could ever call a Frank Gehry house a classic. But there is something so bold and yet so right about this remodel. Nothing fussy, nothing dated, even 25 years later.

I like it even better now than I did when I was a young architect because now I can actually understand just what real courage and vision it took to complete a project like this.

When Gehry purchased the property, the original house was not torn down. Instead, he skillfully wove his architecture around and against the original building. The old and new are now in a dialogue with each other, loudly but also joyfully and whimsically. Gehry had the brains, balls and restraint (an undervalued trait in architecture) to make something this good.

What a relief to see no fake historicism! No egomaniac modernism! And not even a hint of Dwell modernism (you know the kind: flat roof with extended overhangs and lots of Ipe siding! Gehry looked to innovate, to create, and not to replicate.

And despite what you may think, money was an object for Gehry. The chain-link fence or corrugated metal were inelegant, inexpensive materials for an elegant design. Cheap doesn’t always mean bad and besides, Frank Gehry still lives in the house. The project has clearly served his family well.

I will not bore you with anymore “archibabble,” considering the fact that many architectural critics have written much more insightful articles than I could about this project.

I just want you all to remember the next time you go to LA go check it out;  it will knock your socks—or flip flops (it is LA after all)–off.

For more information and quotes, keep reading after the jump.

“Published around the world, the image of a defiantly ‘destroyed’ California house made of unexpectedly humble materials ignited responses as far as Europe and Asia.

As often with ground-breaking efforts, the provocative house invited astonishment, admiration, and contempt. Even with a groundswell of disdain, the house eventually justified its place in architectural history by offering a strong rebuttal to the kitsch neo-historic approach of postmodernism.

It ignited a forum to consider the relationship between art and architecture, which fueled the subsequent waves of architect and artist collaborative projects in the ‘80s, further expanding the role of the architect in culture.” AIA website

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I agree — the Gehry House is a true classic. As a landscape architect, I also find the garden to be beautifully designed.

    August 28, 2012
  2. Thanks Anne: Drive, imagination and courage pay-off. Love to see it! Regards.

    September 1, 2012

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: