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Inside the Mansion Frank Gehry Refused to Finish For LA's Biggest Arts Patrons

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Suburban tract house developer Eli Broad and his wife Edythe Broad are Los Angeles's most high-profile arts patrons, with their names on the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at LACMA (by Renzo Piano), the Broad Stage at Santa Monica College (by Renzo Zecchetto), the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Center at UCLA (by Richard Meier), and, soon on Downtown's The Broad—a vanity museum built to showcase their enormous post-war art collection (by Diller Scofidio + Renfro). But Eli Broad is also a notoriously fussy client; Piano's BCAM is supposedly such a dud because Broad was (as the rumor goes) overly controlling in the design process. He also once promised that enormous art collection to LACMA, then pulled the offer right before BCAM opened. And so it went with the Broads' own home in Brentwood, which was originally designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, but finished by the much lower-profile Langdon Wilson.

In the early nineties, the Broads hired Gehry to design a house "on a radically sloping hillside plot in Brentwood," as a new feature in Architectural Digest says. Gehry created "a series of plans," but the couple "became frustrated with the pace of progress, and, at the architect's suggestion, ultimately hired the firm Langdon Wilson to finish the project." (A decade later, Broad was a driving force behind the construction of Gehry's Disney Hall, incidentally.)

The two-story, 13,000-square-foot result is sort of Gehryish, with collapsed forms and a huge steel canopy over the living room, but what's even the point of interesting architecture when your house is packed with all the priceless art of the Twentieth Century that you've hoarded for your own personal use? That living room features a Jasper Johns flag, a Robert Rauschenberg silkscreen, and a 1946 Alexander Calder mobile, among others; the dining room features Cy Twombly paintings; the bedroom is covered in Twombly and Johns; on the grounds, which were designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, there's a 60-ton Richard Serra sculpture and a Joel Shapiro; a Tom Otterness bronze crowns a tiered water feature.

And then there's plenty of gallery space too, sharing the lower level with guest quarters. The main floor "functions as a self-contained one-bedroom home." These photos from AD show the latest iteration of the interiors, designed four years ago by Rose Tarlow. She says "My task was to soften the architectural edges and keep the house from feeling like a museum."


· TOUR EDYTHE AND ELI BROAD'S FRANK GEHRY–DESIGNED BRENTWOOD ESTATE [Architectural Digest]