245 Los Altos, Kensington

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Today we feature a rambling hilltop ranch perched at the edge of Tilden Park. The home was designed by lesser known local architect Alvin Fingado. Fingado graduated from Berkeley before WWII and like Donald Olsen and many other Bay Area designers at the time, he worked for Kaiser during the war. Afterward he opened his own practice designing understated modernist homes such as this one. Though he never achieved the notoriety that Olsen did, his thoughtful designs appealed to many clients looking for a more approachable modernist residence.

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157 Fairlawn, Berkeley

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This impressive Berkeley Hills mid-century is the first home that Gerald McCue designed for himself in the East Bay. He was only 27 when the home was built, but he was already an established architectural presence in the Bay Area with his own firm in San Francisco. He had also just begun his tenure as a lecturer at UC Berkeley the year prior, returning to teach at his alma mater only two years after finishing his master’s degree there.

The home displays a number of features that would become trademarks of McCue’s residential work including glazed gables and substantial wooden soffits. It appears to have survived largely intact and is a great testament to the precocious talent of a local architect whose outsized influence would ultimately serve to spread the ideas of Bay Region design to the East Coast and beyond.

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3020 Buena Vista, Berkeley

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The Holstein house is an exceptional Berkeley Hills residence designed by John Hans Ostwald. It is sited to take full advantage of its peninsular lot at a sharp turn on Buena Vista. Ostwald did not use the butterfly roof frequently, but here he incorporates it with great aplomb to open the living room to grand Westerly views. It is yet another example of Ostwald’s immense creativity and willingness to experiment with a variety of forms.

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205 Lake, Kensington

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Our featured home today is the long time residence of Hal Thiederman and his wife Elivia. Hal was an integral part of Clarence Mayhew’s firm for many years, eventually becoming a partner. He was responsible for a good deal of Mayhew’s later modernist output including some truly inventive Kaiser hospitals. When it came time to remodel his own home his designs were no less creative, adding a large central lantern in the living room and later a rooftop observatory. The home is a lasting testament to the immense talent of a designer who for many years worked behind the scenes and so is not so well known today as some of his contemporaries.

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2806 Ashby, Berkeley

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This charming stucco craftsman is one of a pair of loosely mirrored homes designed by Leola Hall. Hall was a prolific local design-builder so there are quite a number of her familiar homes around Berkeley, but most of them are shingle style. These two are rare exceptions. However the massing and interior detailing is unmistakably trademark Leola Hall.

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25987 Mission, Carmel

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Happy New Year from Edificionado! Today we turn our eyes toward the coast for a rare opportunity to see the first of Mark Mills’ famous A-Frames. This one was built for Della Walker and features Mills’ trademark gable skylight and low concrete support walls. The home would lead to more work for Mills including the concrete-beamed A-Frame he designed with Nat Owings of Skidmore Owings and Merrill some years later.

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14 Maybeck Twin, Berkeley

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Today we feature a showy Japanese modernist residence designed by Orinda architect Robert Klemmedson. Klemmedson often incorporated Japanese elements into his Bay Region designs but occasionally he also created homes that were more like a homage to traditional Japanese architecture such as this one. The home takes masterful advantage of the exceptional views with carefully framed openings and ample decks.

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131 Tamalpais, Berkeley

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Our featured home today is another of Louise Rigg’s carefully crafted residences. Rigg’s homes are generally recognizable by their dramatic living room space that features a familiar combination of suspended stairway, hearth, and glazing. This particular example was built for Rigg’s own family demonstrating that she truly did live her design ideals.

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32A Sunset, Kensington

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This unusual Kensington home is the work of highly inventive East Bay architect John Rolf Hattam. It is a particularly creative postmodern take on art moderne revival with shingles thrown in for good measure. Hattam’s designs are notoriously imaginative from his earliest work in the 60s to more recent commissions like this one. Here he has created a home that is imbued with the essence of the circle inside and out.

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1357 Glendale, Berkeley

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There is no mention of it in the listing but this modest Berkeley home is part of the original cluster of A-Frames designed and built by the father of the modern A-Frame, Wally Reemelin. Reemelin built his first A-Frame in the Berkeley Hills in 1948. Of course there was no indication at that time that the simple structure he built to rent to students at the university would become the vacation home phenomenon that it is today. This one needs a bit of love but presents a rare opportunity to own a real piece of local architectural history.

Posted in A-Frame, Architect-Designed, Mid-Century, Wally Reemelin | 3 Comments