Case Study House #25

When Janey and I moved to California we already had a list of places we wanted to visit, and then I remembered that the majority of the famous Cast Study houses were in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. I first heard about the Case Study House program while taking an architecture course in college, although Janey had already previously known about them, and the homes were quickly added to our list of places to go.

It so happened that one of the Cast Study houses was close to Don the Beachcomber, where we were for Tiki Marketplace, and we made a quick stop before heading home.

After World War II, the magazine Arts & Architecture, lead by several young editors, embarked on an ambitious program against the “speculation [of housing design] in the forms of reams of paper” that dominated discussion of post-war housing.

The goal of the project as they saw it was to…

… begin immediately the study, planning, actual design and construction of eight houses, each to fulfill the specifications of a special living problem in the Southern California area.

They then invited eight architects including Richard Neutra, Charles Eames and Eero Sarrinen and asked them to submit designs that fit the constraints of creating “good living conditions for eight American families” within contemporary styles and strict budgets and most importantly…

… each house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual performance.

As insane and ambitious as the plan was it was wildly successfully, the houses were put on public display and had over 350,000 visitors when they were opened to the public before being closed and used by either the client the home was intended for or the architect’s own use. The program was so successful that it continued into the 60s with almost 30 homes.

Now that you have a bit of background, today I bring you the first in a new series, Cast Study Houses. As Janey and I visit the Cast Study houses that are scattered about California, I will be guest writing a post sharing photos and the history of the house and their revolutionary designs.

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Even among Case Study houses #25 is fairly unique. Built in 1962, long after the original eight houses, it was built for a “bachelor and boating enthusiast” along the Napels Canal in Long Beach, and designed by Edward Killingsworth. The front of the house faces the canal, with no street access directly in front. The garage is located in the back.

You make your way to the 17 foot, yes, 17 foot, front door by way of stepping stones across a reflecting pool that continues into the lath covered 2 story atrium.

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The house is still in incredible condition and surprisingly blends in nicely to the eclectic collection of houses around it. The house is divided into 3 parts, on the right side (facing the house) are the main living areas all the bathrooms, bedrooms the kitchen, living room and dining room are all the same side and the atrium on the left side.

Below is a photo from the original article about the house, showcasing the atrium and walls of glass revealing the rooms within

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Behind the atrium is the garage on the first floor and a terrace on the second. A large olive tree was planted to give the master bedroom some privacy. The original article talks about the architect worrying that the large front door would constitute a “performance” under the program, but the magazine found that the massive front door was essential to the experience of the atrium.

I’m looking forward to visiting some more houses including the Stahl house and the Eames house both of which offer tours. The rest are all private residences but you see them from the outside and in the original articles.

10 thoughts on “Case Study House #25

  1. How cool! That house is amazing! I still can’t get over the 17 foot door. I love the photo from the magazine article! I spy some Eames furniture.

    • If you look at the back of the original article there is a list of all the furniture and who designed and distributed them which is pretty much a who’s who of mid-century modern furnishings.

  2. I’m over the moon with this house’s garden arangement.
    It’s a sun-kissed location, and the owners have picked out the rock theme, with spikey, succulent plants.. ah.. how I like it!

    Marija

  3. Very, very cool looking. I love the entryway (that door!) and the big, open, modern floor plan. I’m interested in how the house was able to be constructed on the strict budget required, though, or how easy it would actually be to duplicate the design.

    • I think the rule for budgets was pretty flexible as most of the houses were done for client who had enough money to hire and architect to design a custom house on the first place. Though none of the houses have more then 3 bedrooms and almost all have only 1-2 bathrooms so they are not large houses by any means.

      I dug around some more and found the the Eames House (#8) only cost $1 per square foot to build at a time when the average was $11.50, but the Bailey House (#21) cost $15 per square foot so it clearly was allowed to vary a lot.

      Interestingly none of the designs were every produced twice but you can see a lot of influence in the Eichler and Alexander homes that were mass produced in California just a few years after the program started.

  4. Seriously cool homes and post. My mind is racing a mile a minute daydreaming how I’d want to decor one of these classic case homes (if such was even remotely possible, I mean). If you ask me, we need more affordable housing initiatives like this (again) today.

    ♥ Jessica

  5. What a great series! So intriguing. Please keep us posted on your adventures finding these homes. Did you feel tempted to knock on the door and ask for a peek in? I was amazed to see how beautifully kept the property is. This is so nice to see that it is treasured today.

  6. My partner and I owned the Frank House from 1974 to about 1979. I was so pleased to see that the Olive tree had replaced the palm trees. The architecture of the Olive tree was part of the original plan and look.

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