Architecture Magazine

Frank O. Gehry Venice Beach House, Venice, CA, USA

By The Grumpy Old Limey @GrumpyOldLimey

Frank O. Gehry Beach House, Venice Beach, CA, USA In my "spotlight" article on Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank O. Gehry published recently I observed that Gehry "buildings often include the use of flowing curves and metal claddings that add a surreal touch and differentiate them from other, more conventional, designs. Having said that Gehry by no means restricts himself to one theme; take a look at the Venice Beach house ..." Today I return to Gehry to look at the Venice Beach House which is, to use an old cliché, the ...

2509 Ocean Front Walk, Venice, Los Angeles, CA, USA
33°58'55.25"N 118°28'9.31"W
No Google Maps "Street View" Available - Not Included In Google Earth Tour

... exception that proves the rule. Where many Gehry projects feature curves the Venice Beach House is angular, where many Gehry projects feature large areas of bright metal cladding the Venice Beach House does not; take a look at the gallery and you will see exactly what I mean.
Constructed in 1986 the Venice Beach House is one of Gehry's earlier works. Located on the beach front in Venice, CA the home is in a prime spot with wonderful views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean and the "lookout" tower which is very reminiscent of the lifeguard huts dotted along the coastline must be a wonderful place to just sit and watch the world go by. The rear of the "tower" is fully glazed and likely "draws" one in; this feature can clearly be seen in the picture of the "tower" viewed from the house. The residence, with it's unique style featuring "pulled apart" elements not only incorporates design motifs not found in many other Gehry buildings but it was also constructed using a diverse and varied range of building materials including a light wood frame base with large wooden logs and beams, tile, cinderblocks and plywood cladding; many of these materials are clearly evident when looking at pictures of the building.
The Venice Beach House can be considered an example of "post modernism" and is significant as an early example of the genre. Wikipedia references the house in this way:
"Frank Gehry’s Venice Beach house, built in 1986, is littered with small ornamental details that would have been considered excessive and needless in Modernism. The Venice Beach House has an assembly of circular logs which exist mostly for decoration. The logs on top do have a minor purpose of holding up the window covers. However, the mere fact that they could have been replaced with a practically invisible nail, makes their exaggerated existence largely ornamental."
The Venice Beach House is one of a number of Gehry buildings in the Los Angeles area; Gehry and his company Gehry Partners LLP is Los Angeles based. Gehry's development as an architect was influenced by the local "arts" community so much so that in 2005 Gehry curated an exhibition entitled "Frank Gehry and the Artists of Venice Beach". The exhibition was on display for about 6 months at the Gehry designed Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, MN. A tag line for the exhibition read as follows:
"Frank Gehry and the Venice Beach artists stand as explorers and innovators in a time and a place that led the way into a new mind set about the way we understand and live in the world."
My recommendation; if you are ever in the area check the house out. It is located between 25th and 26th and is best viewed from the beach front.

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Wikipedia - Post Modernism
Wikipedia - Modernism
Wikipedia - Weisman Art Museum

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