In 1982, Mike and Penny Winton hired the California-based architect Frank O. Gehry to design a guest house on their rolling Lake Minnetonka property.
The groundbreaking, playful and artistic result, built from plywood, stone, brick and metal, was a house that elevated its architect and modern architecture to a global level of recognition and awards.
The Wintons realized they additional space as their family grew to include grandchildren: a guest house next to their Philip Johnson-designed home made the logical solution. They approaching Johnson but never received a reply.
When the May 16, 1982, issue of the New York Times Magazine arrived on their doorstep, little did they know their guest-house architect had arrived as well. The Times Magazine had a feature on Frank Gehry, an up-and-coming West Coast architect, who captured the Wintons' interest immediately.
Their interest was serendipitous. Their good friends, Mickey and Martin Freeman were curators and directors at Minneapolis' Walker Art Center and had just recently extended an invitation to Gehry for a solo show - the first solo show for an architect at the Walker, and Gehry's first show in his career.
The next month, the Wintons visited Gehry in California and were treated to a tour of his current work, including both domestic (the Spiller, Norton and Wosk homes) and commercial (Santa Monica Place shopping center, Loyola Law School, California Aerospace Museum, Temporary Contemporary Museum of Art and Chiat Day Advertising agency).
When they walked into Gehry’s own house, Penny was certain that they had found their architect.
They loved how the building showed its construction – the walls, joists, and connections – and used unconventional materials like chain link fence, corrugated metal, and wire mesh. It was bold, clever, and unlike anything they had ever seen.