It is not often that an architecture master reinvents himself, but that is precisely what Pritzker Prize winning architect Frank Gehry has done. Gehry, who first won international recognition with his own residence, a masterpiece of post-modern architecture, has revealed what can only be described as the first post post post-modern architectural work, the New Gehry Residence, completely confounding both his critics and promoters alike.
The New Gehry Residence is located in Westwood, Los Angeles, and is the latest reinvention of Gehry’s signature architecture. The house, which seems to resemble your typical two story McMansion, has all the details that one would expect from his work, including lots and lots of shiny titanium. The odd shapes resting one on top of the other might seem, at first glance, to resemble a gable roof, but are in fact so complex, that it took NASA engineers, and a huge team of ARUP engineers, 6 months to make them work. “We couldn’t get them to work together” said one of NASA’s chief engineers. “When Frank asked us to have the larger shape be nested on top of the other two, we knew that this was going to be challenge.”
And as expected, the materials used in the construction of the building are extremely advanced, as only an architect of Gehry’s stature could muster. Large PVC-framed double glazed windows, gypsum plasterboard walls and an advanced timber framing system are all part of the new house. Of course, in reference to his most iconic work in Bilbao, Gehry has used titanium for the roof and siding materials.
If it appears that this is simply a McMansion clad in titanium, be assured, it is not. This is the work of a modern genius, an artist in his prime. The New Gehry Residence is a masterful adaptation of the architectural typological expression of the modern American homeowner. It expresses, both without any irony and by having a profound sense of modern causticness, the expression of contemporary urbanism. A critical look at the consumer expressionism of the spatial factors involved in the formal relationships of how the shapes simply seem as though they formed themselves. It is a simple, yet brilliant reinvention of the modern American house. It is a work of genius.