The First Frank Gehry House in Santa Monica: A Masterpiece by Gehry Partners

CEO Khai Intela
Frank Gehry, the renowned architect, crafted his first Santa Monica House in 1978 after meticulously evaluating a Dutch Colonial bungalow. Despite the property's drawbacks, Gehry saw its potential and transformed it into an architectural masterpiece...

Frank Gehry, the renowned architect, crafted his first Santa Monica House in 1978 after meticulously evaluating a Dutch Colonial bungalow. Despite the property's drawbacks, Gehry saw its potential and transformed it into an architectural masterpiece that continues to inspire designers worldwide.

Frank Gehry House Technical Information

  • Architects: Frank Owen Gehry
  • Location: 1002 22nd Street, Santa Monica, California 90403, USA
  • Topics: Corrugated Metal, Single Family Houses
  • Architectural style: Deconstructivist
  • Scale: 2 stories
  • Project Year: 1977- 1978
  • Second Renovation: 1991-1992
  • Drawings: © Gehry Partners
  • Photographs: © ArchEyes, © Gehry Partners

"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. At night, because this glass is tipped it mirrors the light in… So when you’re sitting at this table you see all these cars going by, you see the moon in the wrong place… the moon is over there but it reflects here… and you think it’s up there and you don’t know where the hell you are…" - Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry’s House in Santa Monica Photographs

A Look into Frank Gehry’s Pioneering Santa Monica House

In 1977, Frank and Berta Gehry purchased a pink bungalow built in 1920. Gehry wanted to explore the materials he was already using - metal, plywood, chain-link fencing, and wood framing. In 1978, he wrapped the house in a new exterior while leaving the old one visible. By wedging tilted glass cubes into the sides, Gehry created a visually striking design.

Though Gehry's residence was renovated more than ten years later, it was his first project to gain widespread attention. The lack of a client allowed Gehry to freely experiment with different materials, resulting in significant risks and unique ideas. The project began with a modest two-story bungalow in Santa Monica, purchased by Gehry's wife at an affordable price. Gehry's goal was to preserve the original house while leaving his mark on it.

Gehry wrapped the house in unfinished materials like corrugated metal and chain-link fencing, reflecting his limited means at the time. Inspired by his childhood experiences in his grandparents' hardware store, Gehry aimed to prove that art could be made out of anything, even industrial fixtures like chain-link.

The interior of the house underwent extensive changes on both levels. The addition of glass structures and exposed framing created a unique spatial arrangement. Glass cubes allowed natural light to flood the kitchen while providing a view of the sky and trees. The use of different materials gave the house a distinctive appearance, evoking the disorienting angles of Cubism.

The entrance of the house, created with wood, glass, aluminum, and chain-link fencing, blends seamlessly with the materials of the original house. Gehry's unconventional design raised eyebrows and garnered mixed responses from neighbors and critics alike. However, the controversy surrounding the project attracted important clients, giving Gehry the opportunity to work on more ambitious projects.

The second renovation of the Santa Monica home, undertaken in 1991-92, added a lap pool, converted the garage into a guesthouse, and enhanced the landscaping for increased privacy. While some lamented a loss of edge, the changes made the house more open and comfortable for Gehry and his family.

Gehry’s Residence Plans

Frank Gehry House Image Gallery

Glass Cube in Frank Gehry House in Santa Monica © ArchEyes

Exterior View of the residence

Corner View © ArchEyes

Front Facade Entrance

Exterior View of the facade of the house © ArchEyes

Garage Entrance of the House

Openings © ArchEyes

Facade View

Openings of the Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica

Balcony

Kitchen of Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica

Bedroom

Model of Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica

Photograph from 1980

Axonometric of Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica Credit: Frank Gehry

Axonometric of Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica Credit: Frank Gehry

Floor Plans Credit: Frank Gehry

Elevations of the house Credit: Frank Gehry

Sketch of Gehry House Residence in Santa Monica Credit: Frank Gehry

Frank Gehry is a renowned Canadian-American architect known for his imaginative and unconventional designs. Born in 1929 in Toronto, Canada, Gehry later established his architectural practice, Gehry Partners, in Los Angeles. His work challenges traditional architectural conventions by incorporating unique and complex forms, often using unexpected materials like metal and glass. Some of his most famous works include the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Gehry is widely regarded as one of the most influential architects of our time, and his work continues to inspire new generations of designers.

(Source: "Frank Gehry: The Masterpieces" by Jean-Louis Cohen)

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