Frank Gehry’s house, designed for living

“Many believe that architects get a bad name by creating ugly buildings in the name of “creative genius.” Read this thought-provoking article written by Robert Campbell and published in the Boston Globe about the recent distinction given to Frank Gehry’s homestead by the AIA. Included in the article is interesting commentary from CORA Founding Counselor Jeremiah Eck.”  ­- Duo Dickinson.

This award has irked  many residential architects!!!  These “Star-chitects” make life hard for the rest of us out here who DO actually see our profession as one that serves the public first and not our own egos!!!  CORA (Congress of Residential Architecture) was created for this very same reason……the AIA (American Institute of Architects) do not really address the issues of nor listen to its professional Residential Architects!!

From Boston Globe/ Site Lines – January 22, 2012|By Robert Campbell

Frank Gehry's home in Santa Monica, Calif., just won the American Institute… (TIM STREET-PORTER/ESTO)

Architects are always giving each other prizes for good design. Unfortunately, the prizes often go to buildings that are liked by nobody but other architects.

The classic case for Boston is surely Boston City Hall. In the bicentennial year of 1976, a national vote among architects and historians named this powerful but sometimes grim structure as one of the 10 greatest works of architecture in American history. The public, rightly or wrongly, doesn’t agree.

OK, so there’s a taste gap between what the general public likes and what’s liked by the subculture of architects. Why does it matter?

It matters because it makes people distrust architects. That’s the view, at least, of Jeremiah Eck, a Boston architect and author.

Eck got in touch a couple of weeks ago, when the national architects’ organization, the American Institute of Architects, announced one of its most coveted awards. This was the Twenty-five Year Award, which is given annually to only one American building that’s at least a quarter of a century old. (Last year’s award went to the John Hancock Tower, designed by Henry Cobb of I.M. Pei and Partners.) The idea is to recognize architecture that has proved its merit over time.

I know you’re holding your breath. The 2012 winner? It’s a modest house in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Monica, designed in 1978 by Frank Gehry for his own family.

No sooner do I get the AIA’s announcement than I hear from Eck. The Gehry house, he e-mails, is “shabby, vapid and entirely without any true meaning of home.’’

I’ll get back to Eck, who has plenty more to say. But first, a description of the house.

Gehry bought a conventional salmon-pink clapboard bungalow in a quiet residential neighborhood. He gutted the interior to expose the wood framing. Then he wrapped much of the original house with an outer layer of new spaces, built with materials you might find in a highway junkyard: raw plywood, chain-link fencing, asphalt, and corrugated metal.

You can get different explanations of what he was up to. Gehry just said he took a close look at Los Angeles and realized much of it was built of junk, so why not do something creative with that reality? In any case, the house made Gehry famous. It came years before such major works of his as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, or the Ray and Maria Stata Center at MIT.

The AIA is suitably rapturous. The house, it says on its website, is “a Rubicon in the history of contemporary architecture, tearing down inherited stylistic standbys to declare a new design language for the modern suburban architectural condition.’’

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