Archives For california

a concrete mushroom

July 12, 2019 — 1 Comment

Designed by architect George Bissell in 1963 as a demonstration house for a nationwide association of cement companies, this house was meant to prove that concrete homes were modern, inexpensive, and easy to maintain. A “concrete ‘mushroom,’ of unsurpassed strength and stability,” said the advertising brochure for the house, “it is a major step forward in the development of minimum-maintenance housing, as well as a satisfying esthetic achievement.”

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The first house in the new master-planned community of Laguna Niguel, in Orange County, California, it was visited by thousands of people when it was first built. All concrete and glass, with a floating, scalloped concrete roof, it was unlike any other house in the neighborhood, either before or since. While it didn’t spark a craze for round, all-concrete homes, as its developers may have hoped, it did manage to find sympathetic owners who didn’t tear it down or renovate it beyond recognition.

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Noted science fiction author Robert Heinlein designed and built this house –

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Together with his wife Virginia, Heinlein lived in the house for 20 years, from 1967 to 1987.

A news article from 1985, calling it a “futuristic round house,” said that its 80 feet of book shelves displayed Heinlein’s own works, translated into 29 languages. It also noted that the author, “whose writings advocate space exploration and open marriage, has filled his home with photographs from the U.S. space program and artistic renderings of lithe women.”

The house is located in the Bonny Doon neighborhood of Santa Cruz, California.

 

dome home

December 1, 2016 — 1 Comment

Dome for sale in Topanga Canyon.

rotating round house for rent

December 27, 2015 — 1 Comment

There’s an open house on Monday at 19 Harkle Road in Novato, California: the iconic, rotating round house that overlooks Highway 101 –

harkle road, novato

Designed and built by Sam Harkleroad in 1963, the house “rotates 320 degrees at the flip of a switch.” Using motors scavenged from washing machines, Harkleroad, an imaginative builder of oddball homes, created a house that would spin slowly, “keeping the sun shining in the living room every day as long as possible.”

harkle road, novato, CAAnd as the real estate agency’s ad explains, “if you wish to change the view you can move the house.”

The house and its ever-changing view can be yours for $3,000/month.

bolinas round house

December 26, 2015 — 1 Comment

A recent photo of the Bolinas round house, which seems to be uninhabited –

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And, just down the hill, its round studio –

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a live-in piece of furniture

September 17, 2015 — 3 Comments

The round house in Bolinas, California, is or at least was a masterpiece –

carpenter house, bolinasI have to admit that I’ve seen very few photos of it, and those that I have seen are nearly 50 years old. Yet the house still exists — one can find it on Google maps — and if it looks the way it did in 1966, it’s one of the most beautiful round houses in the country.

The happy result of a multi-year collaboration between architect Robert B. Marquis and woodworker Art Carpenter, the house’s owner, it showcases Marquis’ structural knowledge and Carpenter’s love of wood. Begun in about 1958, when Carpenter moved to Bolinas from San Francisco, the house wasn’t finished until 1965. “It was completely hand built,” said Carpenter’s son Tripp, who grew up there; every shelf, doorknob, table and counter was custom designed and made by hand.

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meyer on the market

June 8, 2015 — 1 Comment

An innovative, expressionistic ’60s-era round house is now on the market in Oakland –

meyer, oakland 2, CA

Built by local architect Leon Meyer — who designed a number of other round structures in Oakland and elsewhere — the two-bedroom house has a playful zigzag roof, a large yard, and spectacular views.

the future is not yet here

January 19, 2015 — 1 Comment

The vacation house of the future, as conceived in 1957 by automobile designer James R. Powers

vacation house of the future

It has stylistic affinities with the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport, built during the same period –

theme building, LAX

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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