ODD: Gehry Residence Entry by Katrina Virbitsky

Santa Monica is the well-mannered little sister to the more eccentric streets of Downtown Los Angeles and its vastly gentrified Eastside neighborhoods. There isn’t a lot to say for “odd” in the otherwise quiet streets, whose wikipedia article boasts its reputation as an iconic beach town, made famous by the Santa Monica Pier and Muscle Beach.

Which is why neighbors of Frank Gehry cringe each time a student of architecture walks by the architect’s infamous residence, snapping a shot and further immortalizing their grief.

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Frank Gehry and his wife bought the house at the corner of 22nd and Washington in the 1977. Shortly after Gehry proclaimed that the renovation of house would be a “balance of fragment and whole, raw and refined, new and old”. To accomplish the brazen act of deconstructivism, Gehry kept the existing Dutch colonial intact (style designation of popular opinion), but built a new house around it using wood, glass, corrugated aluminum and chain-link fencing: materials popular at construction sites but rarely used in finished residential projects.

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Gehry stated that he wanted to make the windows “look like they were crawling of of this thing”. To accomplish the layered dimension, Gehry tilted the glass is in a way that “when you’re sitting at this table you see all these cars going by, you see the moon in the wrong place” and you confuse your sense of place.

The new design intersects with three sides of the house, and while the exterior of the old house is nearly original, the interior was changed dramatically on both levels to accommodate the new design, which exposed interior framing, joists, and studs. Further additions were made in 1991 to accommodate the growing Gehry family, which significantly diminished the popular deconstructive style of the 1970s addition. The final constructed elements merge both the old and new, giving off the impression that the house is constantly under construction, and it is still the grief of many Santa Monicans.