252 The Uplands, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Tami Bobb, Grubb

There is no mention of it in the listing but this exceptional late mid-century was the home of Lyman Jee who is probably best known for his long and productive partnership with Jack Anderson in El Cerrito. This home was designed by Jee long after that partnership had dissolved and Jee had mostly retired from architecture but it still clearly demonstrates his immense talent for creating stunning solutions to exceedingly difficult sites. Jee unfortunately passed away last year but we are fortunate to have quite a few of his thoughtful homes around the East Bay to remind us of his outsized impact on our built environment.

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970 Contra Costa, El Cerrito

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Tracy Davis, Red Oak

Our featured home today is a modest Bay Region mid-century charming for its extreme simplicity. Its single low gable provides ample shelter for the entire structure and its generous overhangs shade the carefully placed glazed openings. The interiors are equally thoughtful with rooms oriented to maximize views and efficient use of space. It is a beautifully pure conception – the home reduced to its most essential elements.

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3367 Freeman, Walnut Creek

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Dana Green, Pacific Union

The Breezehouse is a new modern prefab structure designed by perhaps the most recognizable proponent of residential prefabrication, Michelle Kaufmann. The home was the second factory-built design that Kaufmann created for Sunset Magazine and it garnered a great deal of media attention in 2005 for its innovative systems and solid execution. However despite glowing reviews and growing backlog, Kaufmann was unfortunately forced to shutter her fledgling prefab business in 2009 as a result of difficult economic conditions after building only 40 homes. Hers would become only the latest in a long litany of promising but largely unsuccessful attempts at home prefabrication that have been undertaken since the middle of the last century. Kaufamnn ultimately sold her designs to Blu Homes which still offers versions of the Breezehouse and several of her other homes.

Posted in Architect-Designed, Michelle Kaufmann, New Modern | 1 Comment

112 Estates, Piedmont

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Matthew Heafey, Grubb

Earl MacDonald is not particularly well-known in the Bay Area because most of his solo career was spent in San Diego, but he lived in Oakland for many years and much of his training took place in the local offices of Arthur Brown. This lavish Piedmont home is one of several impressive residences that he designed in the East Bay before making the move down south and it is a great indication of his immense talent for period revival design. He would continue to practice in Southern California for many years, eventually becoming a noted proponent of modernism, but his early Spanish colonial homes remain some of his most charming designs.

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1162 Grizzly Peak, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Regina Jacobs, Grubb

This meticulously detailed and beautifully composed mid-century was designed by local architect John Wells as his personal residence. Wells was a longtime associate of highly regarded Berkeley professor and architect Vernon DeMars, first in the firm of Demars and Reay and eventually as a partner in the firm DeMars and Wells. Their projects together consisted mostly of Civic and University buildings, but both men also designed homes for themselves in the Berkeley Hills that are unique reflections of their own personalities. Wells’ is perhaps not surprisingly less ostentatious than is Demars’ but it is nonetheless a compelling tribute to his great talent and innate ability to create intimate and inviting interior spaces.

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6131 Ocean View, Oakland

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Diana Yonkouski, Bay Area Properties

Stanley Saitowitz is known today as one of the leading modernists currently practicing in the Bay Area, but his body of work is not a pure statement of new modern ideals. His tastes have evolved over time and through the chronology of his structures we are able to see the growth and development of his mature style.

The home we feature today was built in the early 90s when postmodernism was still the intellectual darling of the design community and Saitowitz too seems to converse readily in that idiom with his undulating curves and playful checkerboard of aluminum panels. But his material choices also lean toward the neoindustrial which provides a touch of modernist texture to the home that was not always present in the work of his contemporaries. It is an intriguing insight into one of the current heavyweights in our local design community.

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9 Harvard, Berkeley

Click picture for additional photos and complete listing courtesy of Lee Goodwin, Red Oak

Today we feature a lovely Bay Region mid-century designed by Harry Nakahara shortly after he started his solo practice. The home is a picture of restraint, beautifully proportioned and carefully sited to take full advantage of the long views across the bay. Despite his relative youth, here Nakahara already clearly demonstrates the maturity of conception and creative detailing which would serve him well throughout his long career.

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