Frank Gehry's Winton Guest House was recently announced to be up for auction on May 19 in Chicago. Designed for Mike and Penny Winton during the '80s in Lake Minnetonka, MN, the Guest House helped propel Gehry into international stardom in the '90s. Currently, the University of St. Thomas owns the $4.5 million home, which was repurposed as part of the Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna, MN a few years ago. Ever since St. Thomas sold the Gainey last year, the Guest House is once again up for grabs and must -- also once again -- start relocation this June to meet its August 2016 deadline.
The Winton Guest House revives the question of what cultural value that the house -- and others vernacular structures like it -- possess. As this comment discussion shows, the topic is a subjective one with no clean-cut answer.
Some may agree that the Guest House's value lies in its history, like an art object that can be studied or referred to for inspiration. According to the University of St. Thomas, the house symbolizes a key structure in Gehry's career that expresses "his understanding of architecture as both art and function and his approach to designing a domestic structure", which led to later projects like the Weisman Art Museum, Disney Concert Hall, and the Guggenheim Bilbao. At the same time, others see the Guest House as a hyped-up Gehry-brand commodity that no longer has a functional purpose, other than being displayed as spectacle. In that sense, should a structure be preserved only because an influential architect designed it? How much influence should Gehry's name have in the Winton Guest House's value?
You can listen to more discussion about the Winton Guest House in this recent episode of the Archinect Sessions podcast.
Until the auction comes around in May, what do you think should happen to the Winton Guest House?