Gehry Residence / Frank Gehry


When Frank Gehry and his wife bought an existing house in Santa Monica, California, the neighbors did not have the slightest idea that the corner residence would soon be transformed into a symbol of deconstructivism. Gehry, however, knew something had to be done to the house before he moved in. His solution was a bold one in the 1970′s that involved the “balance of fragment and whole, raw and refined, new and old” and would strike up controversy.

More on Gehry’s Residence after the break.

Gehry actually did keep the existing house almost completely in tact, but not in a conventional manner. The Dutch colonnial home was left in tact and the new house was built around it. Holes were made, walls were stripped, torn down and put up, and the old quiet house became a loud shriek of contemporary style among the neighboring mansions–literally. Neighbors hated it, but that did not change the fact that the house was a statement of art entwined with architecture.

© Flickr – User: Ken McCown

Gehry’s design wrapped around three sides of the old house on the ground floor, extending the house towards the street and leaving the exterior of the existing home almost untouched. The interior went through a considerable amount of changes on both if its two levels. In some places it was stripped to reveal the framing, exposing the joists and studs. It was repaired according to the addition, showing both old and new elements. This is especially evident when walking through the rooms of the house and passing by both new doors placed by Gehry and older ones originally in the house.


The entrance is barely discernible amidst the jutting angles of the exterior, which Gehry created from wood, glass, aluminum, and chain-link fencing. The apex of the old house peeks out from within this mix of materials, giving the impression that the house is consistently under construction. In 1991 due to the Gehry family’s growth which involved two boys, the house had to be expanded. Even though Gehry tried to maintain the same style of the house, allowing the original design to determine that of the addition, the house went through significant changes. The residence became much more “finished” which in turn stirred up the angry voices of those who felt strongly about the original raw deconstructivist aesthetics. Nonetheless the Gehry House is still a classic among California’s architectural works.

© Liao Yusheng

“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…” –


Architect: Frank Gehry
Location: Santa Monica, California, USA
Project Year: 1977-1978
Photographs: Liao Yusheng,,, and on Flickr: Ken McCown. Drawings from
References:, The New York Times,

Cite: Perez, Adelyn. "Gehry Residence / Frank Gehry" 05 Jul 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 15 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Much of his later work seems to be repetitive, branded and a caricature of itself…but the breadth and scope of his career is truly great. Like him or not, Gehry is a real master.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    Looks like a scaled up version of the houses I would make when I was 5 out of scraps i’d find on a building site.

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    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +5

    Master or not…its hideous…

  5. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    La casa de Santa Mónica, que visité en 1989,es una casa que por oposición se integra al medio y descolla por el atrviminto tecnológico de su propuesta

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Very, very odd, surprising someone of great fame would go out of their way to humbly make a shack like this, it’s interesting, yet quite unsual.

  7. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I really like how Gehry’s home can be reflective of the process of architecture as a whole. Although it is very different from his typical style, I think the way that the original house was kept intact while new additions were added to the surrounding to make it appear as though the house is in a constant state of modification is an important aspect of this building. It not only illustrates the importance of the process behind architecture (the process required to reach the finalized project), but also serves to tie the new and old into a cohesive structure. It is, at the very least, thought-provoking.

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    i think we really have to keep in mind that the house was started before he really entered superstardom and also its interesting that the idea of the house is approached similar to landscape architecture, in that the project never really seems to be completed. it amazes me that the house exhibits a great level of craftsmanship that is lacking in his recent work.

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    How can you all say he is a “master”? The credit for his recent one-liner achievements is due to his hired technicians and consultants. And this house…. is a piece of garbage. I cannot believe this even got recognized.

  10. Thumb up Thumb down +3

    I like Disney Concert Hall… but that is about it from Gehry. And I appreciate deconstructivism as a theory, but whoa…

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    People with beautiful minds are really hard to understand unless you go deeper to their life and ideas… Gehry is a real genius.. i don’t like deconstructivism so much but the approach of this design is something I could really appreciate…

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