It was Gehry’s own home in Santa Monica, California that marked his entrance onto the architecture scene—only his neighbors weren’t too happy about it. That’s because Gehry and his wife, Berta, had bought a 1920s Dutch colonial-style bungalow and, in a radical architectural gesture, customized it.
Rather than demolishing the house or adding on to the existing structure, however, Gehry built around it, using off-the-shelf materials in the style of the early modernists. The chain-link fencing, corrugated metal, plywood, and glass that he used for the shell would become hallmarks of his early work, though some would argue that they gave the house an unfinished feeling.
Gehry himself referred to the style as “cheapskate architecture.” Regardless, the house’s odd angles and almost cubist approach to space proved a hint of what was to come from Gehry.