From 1945 to 1966, Arts & Architecture magazine ran the Case Study House program, a radical experiment in American residential architecture which commissioned major architects to design and build efficient and affordable model homes to accommodate the postwar housing boom. Modest in size compared to its local counterparts, the 1,750-square-foot Case Study House No. 16 in Bel Air has been put on the market for $2.9 million by Aaron Kirman, Dalton Gomez, and Weston Littlefield of Compass. The magazine commissioned over 30 homes during the program, designed by architects including Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Eero Saarinen. Completed in 1953, the Case Study House No. 16 was one of three that engineer Craig Ellwood built for the program. According to the Los Angeles Conservancy, it is the only intact example of his designs, as the No. 17 and 18 have both been drastically remodeled. While the home, a city landmark, had its floors replaced 50 years ago, the building is largely in its original condition. The two-bedroom, two-bathroom home is an archetypal example of midcentury modern architecture, with its modular steel and concrete construction, expansive walls of glass, fir siding, natural rock fireplace, and cantilevered roof. It sits perched atop a Bel Air hillside, offering broad views of the city while appearing as a floating glass pavilion from the street. A wall of frosted glass surrounds the home and provides a level of privacy for the otherwise completely transparent house. The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in July 2013 for its significant association with the Case Study House Program, the “innovative use of exposed steel structural framing,” and it’s “high level of integrity of design, materials, and workmanship” according to the 2013 NRHP registration form. This is the first time the home has been on the market in 50 years.
Posts tagged with "Craig Ellwood":
Otium, the restaurant tucked in The Broad’s Barouni olive-treed, 24,000-square-foot public plaza, quietly opened last week in Downtown Los Angeles. The sum of chef Otium Timothy Hollingsworth and restaurateur Bill Chait, a lot is riding on the eatery to enliven Grand Avenue and the Diller Scofidio + Renfro / Walter Hood pocket park. Designed by Studio UNTLD and House of Honey with building architect Osvaldo Maiozzi, Otium is a boxy, steel-and-wood-clad structure that owes more architecturally to midcentury mods like Craig Ellwood or Ray Kappe than to DS+R’s museum. The traditional California burring inside and outside drive the glazed walls and expansive patio seating. Farm-to-table ethos clearly is behind vertical gardens from Green City Farms on the restaurant’s rooftop that are ready to provide the chef with herbs, vegetables and edible flowers. Inside the box is a large dining room and open kitchen. Windows look west over Hope Street, a view rarely emphasized up on Bunker Hill. According to the press release, the designers were tasked to compliment Hollingsworth with “sophisticated rusticity,” a phrase that looks good on paper, but jams in the mouth creating a lisp-like noise that is neither. A bounty of natural materials are plentiful: steel, glass, wood, copper, stone, nubby textiles, and ceramics. Or, as the PR explains: “The design is an artful mix of old and new, honest, and refined, that echoes the menu’s offerings.” To link the restaurant to the museum, there’s an exterior mural in the works by artist Damien Hirst. Installed on the south facade and entitled Isolated Elements, 2015, it is an approximately 32-foot high by 84-foot long large-scale photograph based on his 1991 sculpture Isolated Elements Swimming in the Same Direction for the Purpose of Understanding, aka the shark in a tank of formaldehyde. It’s unclear if carnivorous seafood is on the menu.
On Friday, the LA Times’ architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne reported that Craig Ellwood and Jerrold Lomax's Hunt House in Malibu faces a demolition threat. AN reached out to several experts on Ellwood, preservation, and modern architecture for comments on what this means for Los Angeles. Designed in 1957, the modest beachside home built for Victor and Elizabeth Hunt is considered an iconic piece of midcentury architecture. Late last year, Hawthorne noted, documents were filed with the Malibu Planning Commission to replace the 1,335-square-foot Hunt House (sold in 2012 for $5.3 million) with a “a new 28-foot-tall, two-story, 5,511-square-foot single-family residence.” “The Hunt House looming demolition is a textbook case of artwork misread as real estate object,” wrote architect and educator Pierluigi Serraino in an email. As author of numerous writings on midcentury design, including California Modernism (Chronicle Books, 2006), he put a fine point not on the historic value or the property value, but on the true cultural value of the structure. “This is one of the landmark buildings of California Modernism and its potential loss would be sheer loss of cultural identity. Collector value as opposed to real estate value can provide a more apt lens to evaluate this small inventory of gems,” he continued. “Imagine if what is threatening the Hunt House happened to the Eames House. [The] proposed demolition speaks to the utter disregard a selected few have for what belongs symbolically to the collective.” In 1967, Esther McCoy was commissioned to write an essay for the Craig Ellwood monograph published by Bruno Alfieri the following year. In it, she discusses how the Hunt House by Ellwood and Lomax (who is uncredited) sets the tone for the firm’s work to come and solidifies its influences. “McCoy’s essay points out Ellwood's love for good detailing, adherence to logic ("the logic of steel"), independent spirit, and a sense of refinement informed by the 'full stark splendor' of Mies and modular principles found in Japanese houses and industrial buildings,” noted Susan Morgan, editor of Piecing Together Los Angeles: An Esther McCoy Reader. “[McCoy] wrote that the Hunt House—with its H-plan, distinct volumes and levels—was very important in Ellwood's development: The three space frames are more three-dimensional Mondrian than Mies.” Morgan also reminded AN that the Hunt House features in Reyner Banham’s Architecture of Four Ecologies as the northernmost edge of Surfubria, his first ecology on beaches. Rudolph Schindler’s Lovell Beach House marks the southern boundary. The Hunt House, like other midcentury designs, is particularly vulnerable to demolition due to trends for larger homes, maintenance issues, and land values. “It’s worth noting that the City of Malibu has no protections for its historic places and got an F on our 2014 Preservation Report Card,” said Los Angeles Conservancy's Director of Communications Cindy Olnick. In October, the Los Angeles Conservancy sent a letter to Malibu Planning Commission calling for an “Environmental Impact Report (EIR) prior to the approval of any project that would adversely impact the building.” The organization urges individuals concerned about the fate of the house to write to the commission via Malibu City Hall.
Pasadena's Art Center College of Design has always been ambitious about building. But after some pushback, it's toning things down. Most architecture buffs know about the school's iconic black steel hillside campus designed by Craig Ellwood, and its equally ambitious downtown campus designed by Daly Genik, located inside a former Douglas Aircraft wind tunnel. But after its last director, Richard Koshalek, got pushed out largely for his super ambitious $150 million expansion plan, including a $45 million Frank Gehry-designed research center (many thought the school was putting more emphasis on facilities than teaching and students), the school's new expansion plans, confirmed this week, involve renovations and smaller expansions, not big gestures, reports the Pasadena Star News. The college is negotiating to buy a U.S. Post Office-owned building on a 2.4-acre lot at 870 S. Raymond Ave, right next to its downtown campus, and plans to use it as a base for fabrication and design. The plan also includes the expansion of the Ellwood Building, whose winner should be announced in the next couple of months. The overall expansion will cost a much more palatable $45 million, for which the school is now raising funds. And the school has no intention of moving into the city-owned Glenarm Power Plant, on which it holds a 10-year option.