A. Quincy Jones & Frederick E. Emmons – X-100, 1586 Lexington Ave. San Mateo, CA – 1956

According to the CA Modernist, Dave Weinstein, over at the Eicher Network, the X-100 is likely to be placed on the National Register this April. It is being restored by its owner, Marty Arbunich, Eichler Network director and CA-Modern magazine publisher. So, we should see it looking a lot like you see it here.

Go check out the article – Eichler’s X-100 Aims for the National Register

Continue reading “A. Quincy Jones & Frederick E. Emmons – X-100, 1586 Lexington Ave. San Mateo, CA – 1956”

Charles Haertling – Volsky Residence – Boulder, Colorado (1965)

Volsky Residence , Boulder, CO - 1965

“Early in Haertling’s career he was commissioned by University of Colorado psychology professor Theodore Volsky to design a house for his family of four on a steep hillside lot extending from a mountain stream in west Boulder. The lot featured views in all directions, half of them slightly upwards to the mountains. The Volskys were interested in taking advantage of these views in a dramatic living room situation. The prominent upward views suggested the upwards curving catenary roof form open to the high view areas while still maintaining interior scale. One gets a 360′ view from the curtain-less living room of the mountains to the west and south, and the plains and cityscape to the east and north. The steepness of the site was accommodated by lowering the house into the earth as much as possible to the rear and allowing light in by way of large lightwells. For basic economy a circular floor plan was conceived, which allowed for increased circulation in the smaller area of the circle and for larger rooms with minimum access distance. 
The living room sits atop the circular form blossoming at the highest point from the ground that capitalizes on the excitement of the terrain. The lower level contains a recreation room and the entry. Upon ascending the stairs one emerges into an interior garden which not only surprises and delights, but also is very functional in that it serves also as a short cut between living areas.

During the construction of the Volsky house a dozen of the neighbors collaborated on a letter of protest regarding its “sheer grossness”, and voicing their concern over “a definite though incalculable loss of property values.” Within a year of the completion of the house Life Magazine printed a 6 page article on it in their Ideas in Houses section. In the following years it appeared on CBS-TV’s show “21st Century” hosted by Walter Cronkite, Schonen Wohnen, and L’Architecture D’aujourd’hui magazines. Since that time the Volskys have made a hobby of maintaining the house in its original form.”

Volsky Residence , Boulder, CO - 1965

Continue reading “Charles Haertling – Volsky Residence – Boulder, Colorado (1965)”

Wilt “The Stilt” and His House on the Hill

Ready for a another athlete’s home? You already got an insider’s view of Willie Mays’ pad from the 60s, so let’s see how Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain pushed the limits of mod living as shown in Life from March 24, 1972 and the January 1974 issue of Ebony. The architect was David Tenneson Rich who has the story of his involvement on his site.

Here’s more info from Big Time Listings when the house was sold in 2007:

“Built in 1971, the five-bedroom, 7,158-square-foot contemporary-style house at 15216 Antelo Place in Bel-Air was built by Chamberlain, who lived there until his death in 1999. TV writers George Meyer and Maria Semple purchased the house from Chamberlain’s estate in 2002 for nearly $3 million, and have owned it ever since. The house has attracted much attention over the years—both with this listing and in 2000-2002, when Chamberlain’s estate was trying to unload it, first for $7.45 million and later reducing its asking price to $4.38 million. The house’s unconventional (some might say tacky) features include a gold-lined hot tub, a retractable mirrored ceiling above the master bed, a swimming pool that flows into the living room, walls of glass, 40-foot ceilings, a wrap-around pool, and a balcony suspended over the living room, according to listing information. Other features include five and a half baths and teak finishes, according to listing information.

The house sits on a 2.58-acre parcel that has ocean and city views, according to public records and listing information.”

Continue reading “Wilt “The Stilt” and His House on the Hill”

MCM Reborn! II

Nice article from the folks at The Globe And Mail about the restoration and expansion of an mcm house built in 1956. The architect was Robert R. McKee from Vancouver. There’s practically no info about him online, though the name seems familiar. The expansion was carried out by Nick Milkovich, a frequent collaborator with Arthur Erickson. Wish there were more pics.

The Globe And Mail article:

‘Every time it snows,” says Bruce Stuart, “I put on Mike Oldfield’s recording of Tubular Bells, then watch the snowflakes drift down into the glass courtyard.”

The theme from The Exorcist may be a fitting musical accompaniment to watching flakes dart and dance, but the house pride of Mr. Stuart and wife Marg is the tune that truly resonates here.

We are gazing at the 16-foot-square, glassed-in, snow-collecting courtyard at the centre of their modernist, Palm Springs-style house, designed by Vancouver architect R.R. McKee in 1956 for Stanley Woroway, owner of a beauty supplies company.

Mr. Stuart, a management consultant, and his wife, an interior designer, have restored the Endowment Lands home and added an extension. With its flavour of the 1960s desert retreats of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., the Stuart home stands in stark contrast to a woodsy West Coast-style house next door, designed by Ron Thom.

While the Stuart home’s window proportions and eave-height run of slatted sun-screens are carefully worked out, the plan of this squared-out house on a large lot with spectacular view could hardly be simpler: A square doughnut of living spaces and bedrooms around the central courtyard, the perimeter panorama wall overlooking Burrard Inlet set in continuous glass.

From the get-go, this was a house for light-worshippers, but the daily stream of photons proved too much for the previous owners. “They had three layers of heavy drapes,” recalls Ms. Stuart, “so the first thing we did was get rid of all of them.”

The Stuarts and their two sons moved from a Kerrisdale Victorian ex-farmhouse to this mid-century modern home in 2002. The Modern Movement in architecture wanted to break down previous conventions – even family life itself – in its tradition-questioning cult of the new. For the Stuarts, the open plan and visual connection between rooms meant adjusting to more noise and less privacy.

“At first it was like living in a glass yurt,” says Mr. Stuart, at ease in his luminous living room, “but we all adjusted, then came to love it.” Some things were harder to accept, such as running his globe-girdling consulting business from the only office space available – a windowless basement.

As the couple began planning their renovation/extension, Ms. Stuart drew upon her training at the University of Manitoba, where an interior design classmate was the now-famous Patricia Patkau. The two pursued their studies in the Russell Building, architect Jim Donahue’s superb academic pavilion inspired by Mies van der Rohe. At the centre of the Russell Building is an intimately scaled courtyard, ringed with floor-to-ceiling glass like the Woroway house.

“I guess working day and night as a design student in a modernist building with a courtyard prepared me – I instantly liked the McKee design,” Ms. Stuart says.

In carrying out their home’s extension, the Stuarts’ first commitment was an enlightened one: they engaged neighbour and noted landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander. She meticulously saved and replanted shrubs and small trees elsewhere on site, set the fieldstone pavers, laid out a small formal garden, and helped set the location for the planned addition. As architect for the new wing, Ms. Oberlander suggested a fellow frequent Arthur Erickson collaborator, Nick Milkovich.

He extended the breezeway roof toward the street, placing a new guest room at the end. This wing forms one side of the U-shaped addition, the other side given over in part to one of the children’s bedrooms, but most of its length devoted to a large home office.

Between the arms of the new wings is a large reflecting pool, marked out on one side with thin columns that bear angled aluminum solar slats to temper light from above. This mirrors Mr. McKee’s original sunscreen idea, updated and shifted in texture and materials.

Mr. Milkovich’s only design gaffe, to my mind, is at the end of the reflecting pool, where water from two over-large basins cascades to the formal pool. These basins are scaled for an office or academic building, not a house, and are not well-integrated into Ms. Oberlander’s landscape design.

But the cladding material, window forms and roof/floor heights of Mr. Milkovich’s addition are otherwise respectful, almost reverential, to Mr. McKee’s 1956 design.

This is the best restoration of a modernist house in British Columbia since 2000, when Tom Field revealed his hands-on restoration of Mr. Erickson’s Filberg House in Comox.

The Stuarts were moved to invite media attention to their home after reading about the December demolition of Mr. Erickson’s Graham House in West Vancouver. “In Vancouver, we have so little architectural heritage, so it’s a shame when we don’t hang on to what we have,” Mr. Stuart says.

Maybe the Stuarts inspired renovation will spark the desire in other homeowners to conserve and extend modernist homes, rather than throw them away.

It all starts with reflection and observation, as Marg Stuart did 40 years ago, sitting in a university courtyard with her sketchbook on her lap, gazing at a single tree made more profound by being framed with bold architecture.

Read Article here: Modernist home gets a 21st century update

Interesting post about forgotten architects: Architects We’ve Never Heard Of


Back on the Market: E.D. Stone’s Celanese House

Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan, CT, Built: 1959

Perhaps best known for the design of the Kennedy Center and the controversial building at 2 Columbus Circle, Edward Durell Stone designed this radical house in 1959. It was meant to be a showplace for the Celanese Corporation, a manufacturer of plastics and fibers. It’s present owner, Bruce Capra, purchased the house in October 2006 and performed a complete restoration along with updating.

Oenoke Ridge Road, New Canaan, CT, Built: 1959


Sotheby’s Listing

NYT Article: Stay Put, or Move to a Modern Icon

Time Article about Edward Stone (1958): More Than Modern

Article by Fred A. Bernstein, architecture critic: Private Lives