An amble down Venice's aptly named Ocean Front Walk would bring you past many different kinds of beachfront architecture, but no other house is as eye-catching as the Norton Residence.
Artist Lynn Norton and her husband, writer William Norton, hired architect Frank Gehry to design their house after seeing the architectural collage that is his own residence in Santa Monica. Gehry combined the owners' desires with the property's beachfront setting to create 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 block and stucco to glazed kitchen tile and timber logs, in shades of sky blue, green, light yellow, orange, and red.
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.
Gehry added it as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the house's beachfront setting and to William Norton's past work as a lifeguard.