Archives For california

Two of the most creative architects ever to embrace the round form, Frank Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff, were both born on June 8—Wright in 1867, and Goff in 1904.

For Wright, the circular form symbolized freedom, an escape from the traditional residential box. As he explained in 1952, “a box is a containment. I tried to abolish the box.” Wright designed at least 14 round and semi-circular houses, as well as, most famously, the spiraling Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Not all of his round house designs were built; sadly, some of his most beautiful and innovative efforts never made it beyond the planning stage.

Wright’s 1938 project for Ralph Jester, meant for a suburban housing community in Palos Verdes, California, was his first attempt at a circular residence -

jester house plans

Another unbuilt round house was the Ludd M. Spivey house, which Wright designed during the same period.

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round house cafe

June 2, 2014 — 1 Comment

This cafe was built in the early 20th century in a resort area in the San Bernardino Mountains, in California, and existed until at least the 1940s.  It looks like it may have since been integrated into a large conference center -

round house cafe

Back in the late 1950s, when living in the suburbs was understood to be the common aspiration of mankind, the magazine Suburbia Today asked this question of its readers. In an article about the “unusual suburban home” of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Benson, whose circular floor plan offered ample open space for entertaining guests, it gave an appealing glimpse of life in the round.

Stunning views, tasteful furnishings, elegant cocktail parties — a round home was modern and glamorous, the magazine suggested.

mario corbett, round house, sausalito

The Walter Bensons wanted their house to be round so that they could get maximum exposure to their magnificent views. To live way, way up on the top of a mountain in a house that seems to melt in with its surroundings; to look freely all about you and see the mountain ridges to the side, the bay and ocean below, and the teeming city across that you must be part of and yet can turn away from at will — this was the dream of the Bensons.

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los feliz lautner

November 6, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Harvey Residence, in LA’s Los Feliz neighborhood, designed by John Lautner in characteristically exuberant style -

john lautner, harvey house 4

john lautner, harvey house

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Built in 1950, the house was said to be in terrible shape in 1998 when it was bought and restored by actress Kelly Lynch and writer Mitch Glazer. Lautner principal Helena Arahuete led the restoration, and the original builder, John de la Veaux, came back to assist on it.

The swirling living room is stunning.

on the market

October 12, 2013 — 7 Comments

You can find round and circular-form houses for sale right now in the US, UK, Australia and Canada for prices ranging from $87,500 to $10 million.  On the lavish — and arguably garish — end of the spectrum, there’s this 1980s luxury villa on Hamilton Island, in Australia, and the “Corbetta Estate” in Los Altos Hills, California (which was the cooler and much more fun Corbetta Party House in a former incarnation).

george keck house

Bringing up the low end of the market, at a modest 696 square feet in size, is one of the many small post-war round houses in Des Moines, Iowa.

A few other houses stand out -

You can also find two round houses for sale in the UK, one in Portland, Dorset, selling for £925,000, and the other in Sidmouth, Devon, selling for £849,950.

“A radical new style in houses—the round house—makes its debut in California” -

modern "round house"

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The reporter narrating a 1954 British Pathé newsreel spoke in breathless tones of a “revolutionary” round house in California. Designed by architect George Frank Ligar, the house — located in Hollywood, of course — was made of concrete, glass and stone, and included such innovations as folding walls and a climbable roof.

r and r in the round

August 1, 2013 — 1 Comment

Still looking for a summer holiday escape? There are round houses for rent in vacation spots around the world. Were it not for pressing work deadlines and a depleted bank account, I might run away to this vintage gem in Desert Hot Springs, California.

I could also be tempted to spend time at this northern Scotland stone cottage, this solar-powered Hawaiian home, this mid-century jewel overlooking a river in Oregon, this Balinesian villa, this wine-drenched Sonoma County retreat, and this super-cool futuro spaceship in Wisconsin.

And at $75 a night — or better yet, $500 a month — I might just visit this cheerful and eccentric New Mexico house and not leave.

new mexico round house

round vacation

June 22, 2013 — 1 Comment

What better place for a summer vacation than a cool round house overlooking the beach? The Water Tower, just off the Pacific Coast Highway in Sunset Beach, California, supplied water to the surrounding area until 1974. Here it is in 1966, in its original state, with a curvy ’60s VW bug in the foreground -

watertower, sunset beach, 1966

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radius house

May 10, 2012 — Leave a comment

Closer to a half-circle than a circle, the Radius House, built in 1958, was designed by architect Daniel J. Liebermann.  An apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, Liebermann was only 28 years old when he built the house for himself and his wife.

The house was built of salvaged brick, exposed beams of Douglas fir reclaimed from a bridge in Ukiah, and skylights obtained from WWII bombers. A 2010 renovation led by Vivian Dwyer of Dwyer Design opened up the interior, updated the wiring and appliances, and added modern elements.

a 1940s housing bubble

March 25, 2012 — 1 Comment

Wallace Neff, a Southern California architect who made Spanish-style mansions for Hollywood stars in the ’30s and ’40s, also tried his hand at designing innovative, low-cost housing for the poor.  His Airform houses, often called bubble houses, were inexpensive and easy to build -

Meant to remedy 1940s housing shortages, the houses never caught on in the United States.  Only a few hundred of them were built here, rather than the thousands that Neff expected, and nearly all have since been torn down.

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