Conceived at a time when nature and utopian ideals were becoming increasingly prevalent in American culture and modern architecture, the Northern California community of Sea Ranch was developed in the early 1960s by architect and planner Al Boeke. Boeke envisioned a community that would preserve the area’s natural, rugged beauty and coastline, and would be based on ecological principles with minimal impact on the native environment. Continue reading
The San Francisco Planning Commission has ruled that a buyer must rebuild an exact replica of a historic house they demolished illegally in the city. Ross Johnston must also put up a plaque explaining what happened — providing a lesson to all in the sensitivity required when buying and renovating special buildings. Continue reading
The Spanish Revival style (1915-1940) includes Spanish Colonial Revival and Spanish Eclectic. The Colonial style is based on Spanish architecture in the New World. The Eclectic style is based on Spanish architecture in Europe.
The Spanish Colonial Revival style immediately followed the Mission Revival style and shared many of the same architectural elements. Continue reading
One of my favorite architectural monuments is British Sir Edwin Lutyens Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, commemorating the lives lost at the first Battle of the Somme, fought 100-years-on now, in May 1916.
Among his other credentials, Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) was one of the principal architects of the cemeteries and memorials of the First World War. Continue reading
The beach house occupies a special place in our hearts. It represents warmth, fun, relaxation, and total freedom from the daily stress of urban living, even if it’s just for the weekend. From the sunny sands of California and the rocky eastern seaboard to the balmy beaches of tropical islands and the azure Mediterranean coastline, anywhere you find a gorgeous stretch of beach and someone who appreciates it, you’ll find a beach house.
From a historical perspective, the beach house plays an important role in the American consciousness. The prospect of owning a second home specifically for the purpose of leisure became a reality for the newly prosperous middle classes of the United States in the post-World War II boom years. They suddenly had the means to hire architects to quickly design and construct small, economic summer getaway homes that could be easily closed up when not in use. The seaside vacation home swiftly became assimilated into the American dream as a must-have item, at least for a while. Images of the beach house still abound throughout our culture, inevitably tied up with thoughts of summer, family, picnics, good times, and, most significantly, sunshine.
Above all, the beach house is a construction dedicated to the worship of the sun. This is not strictly an American conception. Beach houses around the world come in all shapes and sizes, but they all share one overarching design principle: let the sunshine in.
During the Thanksgiving break while in the course of visiting our L.A. relatives my wife and I made a side trip to the Lovell Health House, in the Hollywood Hills above Griffith Park. Constructed 1929 by architect Richard Neutra, the house is widely regarded as amongst the seminal works in the history of the modern movement in American architecture.
Neutra, recently emigrated to the U.S from his native Austria, brought with him the cutting edge theories and practices of the burgeoning International Modernism Movement in Europe.
His client, Philip Lovell, was a physician, naturopath, and hugely popular radio host. Neutra’s approach to his clients was to think of himself as a therapist and the client as his patient, in practice submitting them to detailed questionnaires examining their needs in oft-times surprising detail. One can surmise that from the perspective of professional interpersonal approach the two men discovered a natural affinity almost from the start.
On Lovell’s site perched on a hill commanding unparalleled views Neutra designed the house in answer to Lovell’s needs and the geometry and orientation of the site. To preserve the views, maximize window areas, and create a compelling architectural statement Neutra chose steel frame construction as the primary structural system. Consistent with this he chose a factory-made, industrial style window system, deploying it in broad, unbroken expanses. He contrasted these with linear swaths of white cement plaster.
Philip Lovell was immediately taken to the house and praised his architect publicly. Included in the 1932 famous exhibition on the International Style at the Museum of Art in New York curated by Phillip Johnson it immediately garnered the esteemed, international admiration and renown it enjoys to this very day.