Architecture Road Show
When I studied architecture in college it did not occur to me that the residential landmarks I was learning about — works by Frank Lloyd Wright or Louis Kahn, for example — could be sold or even changed. They existed in lectures as immutable ideals, much like paintings in a museum. So it’s exciting to realize how many architecturally significant houses are for sale at any one time. Here are three gems I just found on architectureforsale.com, a remarkable resource.
La Miniatura, in Pasadena, California, above, is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous houses from the early 1920s, after his return from Japan and work on the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Designed for his client Alice Millard as a way to take advantage of a difficult (and therefore inexpensive) site in a small ravine, it
was built of ornamented or “textured”concrete blocks in conventional mortar. He was evolving a less expensive version of masonry, aiming for an architecture that seemed to grow out of the land. He ultimately perfected a system of steel reinforced “textile blocks” that would be a way of knitting together engineering and architecture. The house has been beautifully restored, for at least the second time. I remember visiting during an earlier refurbishment and being struck by the way the house stepped down the slope to create a hidden indoor-outdoor world. You can have it for $4.495 million.
Or, on the same website, for much less money, how about Louis I. Kahn’s Esherick house in Philadelphia, of 1961, available for a bargain-sounding $1.25
million. This one bedroom, two story house has a monumentality that belies it’s
relatively small size, thanks to a rectilinear geometry, tall multi-faceted window walls, a double-height living room with balcony, and symmetrical chimneys. According to historians, Kahn used houses as a way to test his ideas for larger buildings; in this case there are similarities in outline and in the separation of “service vs. served” spaces with his Richards Medical Research Building of about the same time.
Another listing has special resonance for Houseplans — it’s a mid-century modern Eichler tract house in Granada Hills, California by architect Claude
Oakland, shown here. It’s listed for $739,000 and has been carefully updated to meet current codes, not to mention appliance and fixture expectations.
I like Architectureforsale’s clever description of the wide gable design as a kind of airframe: “Like a B-2 Bomber’s absolute symmetry…seemingly as if lining up along a tarmac from one of the many Los Angeles area airports.” An apt description! (All above photographs courtesy Architectureforsale). The significance for us here at Houseplans is that we carry copies of several original Claude Oakland plans in our Historic Eichler Plans Collection,
like this one, which is Plan 470-7, with its segmented gable organized around
a central gallery. Price? Only $4,500 — but you do have to build it.
Back to School at Home
Where do you work when you’re at home? In an alcove off the kitchen like this
one in our Plan 56-604. Or maybe at the dining table? Or perhaps in the
Oval Office? (Photo courtesy Whitehousemuseum.org) Wherever it is, you know home work spaces are evolving. They can be almost anywhere with a little help
from today’s shelving/storage systems, like this clever desk that converts to a
Murphy bed so you won’t miss an inspiration that strikes in the middle of the night — or where there’s not enough space for a desk. It’s called the “Harry” (sounds presidential!) by Smartbeds of Italy and is available from FlyingBeds. Sweet dreams.