A Canadian,and passionate hockey player, Frank Gehry
moved to Los Angeles in 1947, took a job driving a
delivery truck, tried radio announcing, studied at
Los Angeles City College, and ultimately graduated
from the USC School of Architecture.
His first and still his only house in Santa Monica was a tract
house in a conventional residential neighborhood, around which
he built virtually another house of wood, glass, aluminum and
chain link fencing in a nearly perfect tribute to deconstruc-
tionism. From time to time, he added to it or changed it. Some
of his neighbors were horrified. It is said that one angry
neighbor shot at it, but it may be more urban myth than fact.
In any case, the odd house within a house attracted so many
curiosity seekers that the City installed its first speed
bumps on Washington Avenue adjacent to the house.
Today, at 84, Gehry doesn’t play much hockey anymore, but he
is arguably the most influential and most celebrated living
architect, with major buildings all over the world. Many books
have been written about his works. He’s won the Pritzker Prize,
the most prestigious prize in architecture. His Walt Disney
Hall in downtown Los Angeles is one of his many lauded buildings.
But, in all his years in Santa Monica, aside from endlessly
redesigning his own house, he’s only designed one building —
Edgemar, a cultural and commercial complex on Main Street,
which was built in 1984. He also designed the “binocular”
building on Main Street that was commissioned by Chiat-Day,
when it was the coolest ad agency in America, and is now
occupied by Google – but it’s over the border, in Venice.
Actually, Gehry designed the original Santa Monica Place for
the Rouse Company, but, in a film made about him by his friend,
the late director Sydney Pollack, he says that he hated it,
told Jim Rouse on opening night that he hated it, and Rouse
told him to denounce it, and he did.
Now, architect Gehry is finally coming home. It was announced
last week that plans for a 244-foot tall hotel with 125 rooms,
22 condominiums, ground floor retail and restaurants and 19 rent-controlled apartments on a two-acre parcel that will also
combine two existing houses into a 36,000 square foot “museum
campus,” and add an underground exhibition space were submitted
to the City by M. David Paul and Associates and the Worthe
Real Estate Group.
At a press conference, Tensho Takemori, a partner with Gehry
Partners, said the project, on Ocean at Santa Monica Boulevard,
was in the works
for six years.
The design, he added, was meant to express Santa Monica’s
“sophistication and casualness.”
The plan includes two and five-story buildings on the sidewalk
at the base of the tower, and the 150 surface parking spaces
now on the site would be replaced by 460 subterranean parking
Acknowledging that it’s going to take a lot of time and work with
the community, Jeffery Worthe, president of Worthe Realestate
Group, said. “We don’t take this lightly.”
Paul Associates has owned the majority of the site since 1977,
and bought the rest of it in 2007, Worthe said.
Go to www.oceanavenueproject.com to see the project.