Collection by Patrick Sisson

Would You Buy This Idiosyncratic Frank Gehry Guest House?

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Up for auction in May, the Winton Guest House was the project a young Frank Gehry used to further develop his deconstructionism.

From above, the whimsical structure looks like the final submission from a team of grade-school architects, toy blocks and Seussical structural analysis at play. A sculpture and architectural experiment with shapes clad in stone, Finnish plywood, and lead-coated copper, the 1987 Winton Guest House was the playful creation of a then on-the-rise architect named Frank Gehry. Designed for Mike and Penny Winton, Minneapolis residents who needed more space than their Philip Johnson-designed brick home could provide, the commission proved a pivotal one for the future Pritzker winner; you can start to see the curves that would would soon ribbon into his signature style. After a series of moves over the last few years—the Wintons sold the property in 2002, and then the new owner donated the guest home to the University of St. Thomas, which moved it 110 miles to Owatonna—it’s now being sold by Wright Auctions on May 19, 2015. Dwell spoke with Richard Wright and a few architectural experts to understand what makes the Winton Guest House such an important creation.

The Wintons commissioned Gehry after reading about his work in The New York Times in 1982. It was the pick of a client…
Gehry’s first project outside of California, the 2,300-square-foot guest house represented more than a geographic…
“Early in his career, Gehry was able to experiment with his own home—deconstructing rooms and functions into the shapes…
“The Winton House combines Gehry’s love of sculpture, his interest in urbanism—as each form is said to be a building in…
“The grandkids loved it; they loved the loft space,” says Young. “The light in that space is fantastic, it just creeps…
Wright’s auction estimate, $1,000,000 to $1,500,000, is not a high bar for a Gehry, as Richard Wright explains, but…
“It really synthesizes the ideas that turn out to be his signature style,” says Richard Wright, “The concept of a…
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