Frank Gehry’s architecture is often compared to art, and indeed many of his designs seem to be as much sculptures as structures. He is also well known for his architectural designs for artists and art collections, from the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the Arnoldi Triplex in Venice. The Gemini G.E.L. (Graphics Editions Limited) building fits squarely into the latter category. Founded in 1966, Gemini G.E.L. is a multimedia workshop that incorporates a print shop, art studio, and gallery that helps artists create limited editions of their work.
Its original building on Melrose Avenue was constructed in 1946, and was transformed by a series of Gehry-designed additions and alterations between 1975 and 1979.
The property is now a complex of multiple connected buildings around a parking lot, unified by their simple rectangular plans, stucco cladding, unornamented windows, and flat roofs. They are in an understated Postmodern style you might not even notice were it not for the occasional jolt of a wooden wall of exposed stud framing. These walls extend from building interiors to exteriors, sometimes covered in glass and sometimes bare, evoking the inside-out nature of Gehry’s own home in Santa Monica and prefiguring the Deconstructivist style.
Gehry’s design for Gemini G.E.L. is deceptively simple and subtle, illustrating an important step in the architect’s development and serving as a muted backdrop for the artmaking that happens within.