Completed in 1984 by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the Norton House is known for its eccentric form and eclectic materiality, much like Frank Gehry’s house in Santa Monica. It is a sculptural assemblage of everyday low-cost materials that forms an eye-catching residence among all of Venice’s famed Ocean Front Walk beachfront architecture.
Norton House Technical Information
- Architects: Frank Gehry
- Location: 2509 Ocean Front Walk, Los Angeles, Venice Beach, United States
- Client: William Norton and Lynn Norton
- Topics: Color in Architecture, Beach House, Deconstructivism
- Area: 2,500 m2
- Project Year: 1984
- Photographs: © ArchEyes
It as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the house’s beachfront setting and to William Norton’s past work as a lifeguard.– Frank Gehry
Norton House Photographs
Frank Gehry’s Deconstructivist Masterpiece
Text by the Architects
Artist Lynn Norton and her husband, writer William Norton, hired Frank Gehry in the 1980s to design their residence on a narrow, ocean-facing plot of land on Venice Boardwalk. Merging the owners’ desires with the property’s beachfront, Gehry created another collage of contrasting volumes, shapes, colors, and heights that somehow work together to produce a coherent whole.
Completed in 1984, this Deconstructivist house steps back from the front in three levels of offset boxes, with bedrooms and personal spaces at the rear of the small lot to provide privacy in the exposed location. It employs a wide variety of materials, from concrete blocks and stucco to glazed kitchen tiles and timber logs, in shades of sky blue, green, light yellow, orange, and red. The volume itself is wrapped in bright blue tiles.
The property’s dominant feature is its tiny one-room studio, a stucco box perched on a post in front of the main house with a panoramic window offering unbeatable views of the ocean.
While the first floor covers most of the plot, the second floor, which contains the main living areas, including a kitchen and living space, is set further back to maintain privacy. The rooms themselves are boxes placed upon each other, connected with stairs and terraces. The studio, watching over the beach of Venice, reminds us of a watchtower from the coastguard. The whole thing holds together because every room and place is different, and in this way, they’re the same. Using classic and cheap materials such as industrial staircases, kitchen tiles, rails, and wooden pillars, he created a cheap house with architectural depth. The banality of the materials forms a whole that exceeds their materiality.
Their varied texture and colors reflect the visual chaos of the building’s complex urban context.Walls rendered with stucco are painted in different colors to accentuate geometric shapes, whereas other sections are faced with contrasting tiling. A tall, red chimney, visible through the glazing, rises through the house to pierce a glass canopy at roof level. A simple structure composed of wooden logs suggests an informal entrance.
Norton Residence Plans
Norton Residence Image Gallery
About Frank Gehry
Frank Gehry (1929) is a Canadian-American architect known for postmodern designs, including the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain. He studied at the University of Southern California and started his own studio in 1962 in Los Angeles called Frank O. Gehry Associates. In 1989 he received the Pritzker Prize.
Gehry is known for his choice of unusual materials as well as his architectural philosophy. His selection of materials, such as corrugated metal, lends some of Gehry’s designs an unfinished or even crude aesthetic. This consistent aesthetic has made Gehry one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable designers of the recent past.
Works from Frank Gehry