If you were to write a list of the top names in architectural design, Frank Gehry would be close to the top of that list, alongside luminaries like Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudi, and Ludwig Van der Rohe. While Gehry’s work is usually marked by curved shapes and unconventional designs, this home in Minnesota looks like an introduction to elemental geometry. At first glance, you might think that a giant toddler misplaced his toy blocks. However, this is a functional house and one that’s easily worth six or seven figures.
- Sale Price: $905,000
- Location: Owatonna, MN
- Square Footage: 2,300 sq. ft.
- Lot Size: Not Applicable
- Price Purchased For: $4.5 Million
- Bedroom/Bathrooms: 1 Bed, 1 Bath
- Unique Features: Geometric Shapes, Exposed Construction Work, Unique Building Materials
All photos are used with permission from TopTenRealEstateDeals.com
What We Liked About This House
If you wanted to live inside a house that stood out from the rest on the block, this is one of the most distinct options available. Originally, Frank built it as a guest house for Minnesota couple Mike and Penny Winton. The Wintons hired Gehry in 1982, and he went to work on the design right away. The goal of the house was to showcase six unique geometric shapes and how they interacted with each other. If you were to look at the home from the rear, sans any windows or doors, you might think it was a modern art sculpture.
Inside, the house is full of open spaces and natural lighting. Although you only get one bedroom and bathroom, there is a small kitchen and a large garage/workspace. Gehry originally envisioned that the garage would be perfect for pottery or other artwork, and he installed a loft above it for kids and grandkids to play. It’s evident that youth and playfulness played significant roles in the design of this house. We believe that, in the right hands, living in such a space could spark endless creativity and imagination, for both children and adults.
Interestingly, this home was given to the University of St. Thomas after the original lot was subdivided for future development. The new owner of the land, Kirt Woodhouse, was unable to do anything with the area as long as the structure stood on it, so the University moved it 110 miles to its current location. In 2015, the home was auctioned off for a measly $905,000 to an undisclosed bidder. We say measly because the property was initially valued at $4.5 million once it was complete. However, since the new owner has to move the structure again, the price does seem adequate.
An Architect for the Ages
Typically, architects like to build structures out of clean lines and simple shapes. For Frank Gehry, however, he finds more comfort in the fluidity of motion. When looking at his most famous work, such as the Walt Disney Concert Hall in L.A., you’ll see what we mean. In that regard, Gehry is much more like abstract architects like Antoni Gaudi than more contemporary names like Frank Lloyd Wright.
Gehry was initially born Frank Goldberg in Toronto, Canada. As a child, he developed his love of architecture by playing in his grandfather’s hardware store. He would design futuristic buildings and cities out of scrap materials, which is partially why he has such unconventional designs today.
Gehry’s family moved to Los Angeles when he was 18, and he studied at Los Angeles City College. He tried his hand at more practical majors like chemical engineering, but his passion for art and architecture took over. He designed his first private home in 1957 for a friend of his, and the rest is history. Along with the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Gehry’s other famous work is the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, which was featured in the James Bond film The World is Not Enough.