Metal-Frame Houses of the Modern Movement in Los Angeles: Part 2: The Style That Nearly...

by Neil Jackson
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Metal-Frame Houses of the Modern Movement in Los Angeles: Part 2: The Style That Nearly...
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Neil Jackson
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1990
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Architectural History
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33
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167
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187
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English
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ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: ryyo

Steel, who had an obvious interest in the project, quoted public reaction -'These rooms look immense yet the place is only 1040 square feet . . . this place could really take a beating and still last for ever! . . . no termite worries with steel'I4- but they also echoed, perhaps in an effort to appear fair, what must have been a common complaint, 'these modern house just don't look homey'. l5Soriano himself wrote a long polemic for the house in Arts and Avchitecture -longer, indeed, than anything this progressive magazine had published on metal-frame houses in the last decade. 'Home builders', he argued, 'have not yet fully discovered steel's tremendous flexibility and its time-saving potential. It is a medium in which the builder must have competent professional assistance to realize the greatest value. Here, we enter into a new phase of building industry in housing in which the details must be as meticulously planned as the details

.

of a multi-story steel building, requiring not the haphazard concoction of timber and nails but a precise, well-detailed structure with a developed analysis of its component parts'. l6

Soriano designed the Eichler house in the same way as the earlier Curtis and Case Study Houses: 'It was necessary to think in terms of mass production by efficient machinery, welding of columns and beams electrically, storage walls made and preassembled in the cabinet shop. . . 'I7

The spacial possibilities afforded by the SorianoIEichler home were also a selling point:

In comparing the conventional type of wood structure with our concept it will be found that every room in the wood structure is surrounded by parasitical walls. For example, a 10 x 12 foot room will be delineated by 6inch walls. The roof also is supported by some of these walls, thus preventing the maximum utilization of the floor area.. . With steel a precise modular structural system remains -depending on no bearing walls -only on perimeter columns. The wasted 2-foot depth of wall space of the wood structure is now used for wardrobes or cabinets of other types.l8

And much was made out of the constructional advantages:

To achieve a long clearspan with timbers they must be at least twice as thick as steel beams and spaced at more frequent intervals. As an example, this house of 1000square feet was achieved with seven beams and fourteen columns where it would be necessary to use fifteen to twenty-four beams in the wood structure. After wooden beams are up, the problem of finishing the shrunken and cracked beams becomes a costly one. With steel beams the problems of refinishing and readjustment are non-existent. Not counting the fact that the steel frame is erected square and plumb within a matter of three to four hours . . . less time than it would take the carpenters to readjust the wood frame.I9

The other Los Angeles architects who became involved in building for Joseph Eichler was the firm of Jones and Emmons. Archibald Quincy Jones had gone into partnership with Frederick Emmons in 1951 and almost immediately began working with Eichler. One of the first fruits of this association was a model home built in the Research Village at Barrington Woods, Barrington, Illinois as part of a housing development sponsored by United States Gypsum. Completed in 1954, this house employed open steel trusses and exposed metal decking and, although it was not the only one of the six model houses to use steel construction, it was the only one which made an aesthetic virtue out of it. And thus, being 'designed around the use of

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES I71

incombustible materials that are suitable for shop orjob prefabri~ation'~~

it reflected the ideas already promoted by Soriano.

At this time Jones was also building his own metal-frame house in Be1 Air. Here he had the opporunity to develop a flexible, framed building system which would be equally applicable to one-off and speculative housing. Using four-inch steel columns and ten-inch steel beams supporting a steel roofing deck, Jones provided a wide expanse of flexible living space and even managed to retain some I 5 per cent of the floor area for interior, open air planting.21 Once again this effort might be compared to Soriano's work-both the Shulman and Case Study Houses had contained interior garden space. When the Jones house was finished in 1954 it was found that 'the steel construction cost-wise, proved comparable to timber construction and has provided a pleasant living space with the minimum of construction time'.22 Incombustible materials or not, the house was burnt out in the Be1 Air fire of 1963.

Following Soriano's Eichler House in Palo Alto, Jones and Emmons built a similar house the following year, 1956, in nearby San Mateo. Promoted, once again, as an experimental house and even a 'research laboratory', 23 this building was 'not offered as a production model but planned for the purpose of acquainting the public with previews of planning concepts and building ideas indicative of what can be expected in the merchant-built houses in a few years'.24 This house, dubbed the X-100, used United States Steel's standard four-inch H-columns and eight- and ten-inch I-beams, beams which would have had to be at least sixteen inches deep if specified in timber. Thus 'the thin crisp lines of small steel members produce' as the United States Steel advertisement assured, 'a light elegant feeling and a "floating roof" '.25 And the house also sought to blend interior and exterior space, as the Jones house had done, in order 'to provide year-around garden living'. 26

Despite the efforts of Eichler, the advertisements of US Steel and the pioneering work of the Case Study House Program, the housing industry was slow to respond to their example. The industry had enjoyed a nation-wide boom in 1949 and the momentum had carried over into 1950. In 1949 some 3 5,000 prefabricated single family homes had been produced which, with a value of $280 million, accounted for about seven per cent of the housing market. In 1950, the target was set at 50,ooo new prefabricated homes and, at the end ofthe first quarter, shipments were up by 200 per cent on the first quarter of the previous year.27 But these prefabricated homes took no advantage of the potential of high-tolerance steel construction. Gunnison Homes Inc., for example, a subsidiary of US Steel, manufactured the Gunnison Homes Deluxe, Master and Champion series -all out of plywood.

The absurdity ofthis situation was recognized, in 1955, by a British architect Michael Brawne, now Professor of Architecture at the University of Bath. Brawne had done graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -his investigation of building systems had been published in Avts and A~chitectuve~~-before migrating to the west coast.29 Writing in Arts and Architectuve, he drew attention to the 'gap between the quality of our refrigerators and of our towns . . . National Homes, Harnischfeger, US Steel, Cliff May', he noted, 'are all marketing the packaged house. Once it has been assembled on the site and tied to the utility lines, however, it is indistinguishable from its hand-made neighbor. In this way prefabrication achieved respectability at the

ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

expense of progress'.30 TObe fair, it was not altogether the fault of the house-building industry: it was often the developers of the tract homes who brought restrictive measures to bear on their sub-divisions.

Richard Neutra, whose Love11 House of 1929 had opened the way for metal-frame houses in southern California, railed aginst the conservatism of the tract developer during the early years of the 1950s. In 1951 he published an article in Avts and Avchitecture31 on 'Restricted Architecture' and in 19 54 developed these ideas in his book Suvvival Thvough Design:

We have mentioned the incident of a speculative real-estate subdivider who, once having invested in a particular brand of aesthetics, tries to cut his worries. He institutes some sort of 'Architectural Tract Restrictions' in order to freeze design and arrest development to rigid unity and powerful permanence.

And then he adds, perhaps a little wistfully:

Restrictions of a stylistic kind might in fact cause land sales and values to fall off. Tracts thus restricted may later collapse commercially unless property owners awaken and band together in revolt to lift the restrictive covenant that makes them early Californians or Cape Cod fishermen.

Ultimately, his observation is the same as Brawne's:

While even laymen readily understand that, basically, construction must govern appearance, there is reasonable doubt that steel-built houses would sell well from the start if they actually looked like what they were.32

The problem, however, was well expressed in a report which appeared the same year in Arts and Architecture. It concerned the Kelton House, whose architect was Craig Ellwood. The building was metal-framed, and the walls were non-shear and non- bearing, the steel H-columns and I-beams being left exposed to become an integral part of the design. But, as the report said, 'unfortunately the house will not be built. The tract architectural committee rejected the preliminary drawings because the architec- ture "does not conform" '.33

Nevertheless, a few of the younger architects and designers turned to steel (as opposed, perhaps, to plywood) as the principal material for mass-production housing. In 1950 the firm of Bassetti and Morse published designs for 'Low Cost Multiple Dwellings' which were intended to satisfy 'the housing need of the smallest family groups, the portions of our society whose living requirements, in terms of physical space, are the simplest'.34 Here the cost saving was not in the construction but in the purchase of a steep and, without steel, otherwise unbuildable site. Two years later Frederic Barienbrok and Eugene Memmler's design for 'A Modular System for the Small House' took advantage of the facilities already available within the industry:

all component parts used in this house are produced by already existing manufacturers, and therefore, in normal times, the supply to the consumer would be unlimited. It is not necessary to set up any mass-production factory to produce this type of modular house.35

A development of this idea was published two years later by Memmler, now in association with Richard 0.Spencer. Here the steel frame was used to extra advantage on a steep, hillside site. 36

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES I73

It was the suitability of the steel frame to the unstable Los Angeles hillsides, as Neutra had demonstrated in the Love11 House, which encouraged its most frequent use throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. Bassetti and Morse's project of 1950 had used a hillside site as did those of Greta Magnusson (~ggo), 37 Gene Loose and Kipp Stewart (1950, 195I and 1953)~~~ Durden (1952),~~William Alexander (1952),40

James Thornton Abell(1953),~~ Bernard Zimmerman (1960

Allyn Morris (1956 and 1962),~~ and c. 1962),~~ and Raul Garduno (1962).~~

Neil Johnson (1961)~~ But in seizing upon steel's structural capabilities and employing it in their individualized, hillside houses, these architects and designers failed to demonstrate an appreciation of the high- precision, industrial, reproducible quality of the material with which they were working in the way Soriano, and Neutra before him, had done. As Neutra himself commented:

The concept of rarity or uniqueness is as foreign to this new type ofprecision as it is to this new type of quality . . . Precision, formerly a luxury, has turned into a prerequisite for economical production and maintenance, because the possible market, the scope of consumption, depends upon it.46

It must be a recognition of the continuing significance of Avts and Avchitectuve that in the five steel-framed Case Study Houses which it promoted throughout the 195os, reproducibility was a central issue -and none of the houses was built upon a sloping site. In this, the intent of Soriano's Case Study House 1950 was continued.

Case Study Houses 16, 17 and 18 were all built by Craig Ellwood: 21 and 22 were by Pierre Koenig. Both Ellwood and Koenig had been building in steel before John Entenza invited them to participate in the programme. Ellwood's career had started, in 1947, with the building firm of Lamport, Cofer, Sal~man.~~

As he explained, 'Charles Eames and John Entenza had heard about Lamport, Cofer, Salzman and brought their Case Study Houses to us for bidding. I think we were the only bidders and I was cost estimator on both houses, the Eames House and the Entenza House'.48 A few private commissions encouraged him to leave Lamport, Cofer, Salzman in 1948 and to set up on his own as a designer: he was not an architect, but some evening classes in engineering at the University of California, Los Angeles gave him an appreciation for steel. This had an immediate effect on his architecture and in the Hale House, the first building he did after attending UCLA, the architecture was a strong expression of the structure (Fig. 4). This building, published in Avts and Avchitectuve in 1952, was a turning point for him:

The plan was fitted among existing trees and paralleled to existing contours; an 8-foot modular structural scheme was selected . . . column to beam connections are designed to withstand all lateral forces (seismic and wind), allowing the elimination of standard shear walls . . . structural members, the beams, steel columns, and connecting straps and angles are exposed throughout to become part of the architectural expression. . . space is not bound by the perimeter of the room; and uninterrupted motion of the ceiling pattern and the interpenetration of house and garden through the transparency of glass result in a visual freedom that suggests unlimited expanses beyond. 49

Koenig, on the other hand, had trained in architecture at the University of Southern California and had spent three months working in Soriano's office. 'Of course', he later recalled, 'it was terribly educational and a lot of fun and most interesting and it

ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

I 76

called for prefabricated steel frames, stock lengths of roof decking and sliding glass doors and window units which could be 'brought to the job with jambs, sills, and mullions integral'. 56

Prefrabrication, or more exactly, 'complete mechanization' was central to Ellwood's Case Study House development during the 1950s. As Arts and Architecture noted in 1958:

For some time it has been Craig Ellwood's contention that the increasing cost of labour and the decline of the craftsman will within not too many years force a complete mechanization of residential construction methods. 57

In Case Study House 18 Ellwood sought to perfect a system ofprefabrication which he had been working on since 1951 (Fig. 6). As he explained:

The first use of square steel tubing in a modular frame, I believe, was in our Case Study House # 16. From this developed the idea for an all-tube pre-fab frame of 2" square columns, 2" x 5%" rectangular beams. These sections seemed to be the form best suited to detail and connection specification and standardization . . . one connection, handles all wall condition^.^^

The result was impressive. The steelwork for the house was prefabricated into sixteen 'bents' or units of beam and column. Once delivered, these bents were erected by four men in eight hours and required site-welding for only nineteen beam connections and forty column base-plate connections. For Ellwood, the lessons of Case Study House 18 were clear:

To us, this is proof of the direction of residential construction. With the continual increase of on-site labour cost and the decrease of skilled craftsmanship, house production must go to the factory. And the question is not whether we, as architects, idealistically accept a product house. The product house is here now, and the problem is not how to combat it, but rather how to cope with it, and if possible, control it.59

Product utilization was the theme behind Koenig's first Case Study House, no. 21 (Fig. 7). It was, Entenza himself said, 'a very pristine, clean design. Two details, one north-south, one east-west. One material for the roof, same one for the walls. Minimal house, maximum space'.60 And as Arts and Architecture noted, 'by utilizing readily available steel shapes and products in a carefully conceived manner, a finished product comparable to any other luxury home is achieved minus the excessive cost usually associated with quality and originality'. 61

It was during these years that the Chicago architecture of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was becoming well-known. His aesthetic, as seen at the Illinois Institute ofTechnology campus and in the house he built for Dr Edith Farnsworth at Plano, Illinois, was one of steel and glass, but it had a classical quality and pristine edge which was alien to the southern Californian metal-frame houses. Mies had never built in California and was not widely published. He probably first came to the notice ofthe Los Angeles architects when Charles Eames reviewed the New York Museum of Modern Art's Mies exhibit of 1947 for Arts and Architect~re,~~

even if they did not see the book by Philip Johnson and the other articles which accompanied the show. 63 Ellwood recalled that he 'became really aware ofMies's work around '55 or '56. . . but never having studied architecture wasn't really aware of many architects other than those in California, those working in Los Angele~'.~~

Koenig, despite being university trained, seemed to have almost

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES

tlg 6 Cratq Cll~vc~otl,Case Stcrdy Horlct 18,Urvtrly Ht11,

ignored Mies. 'Wright was the person to look up to in school when I was there', he said. 'Mies van der Rohe was just another something there, along with everyone else. It wasn't until later that I began to learn to appreciate his

Of all the Los Angeles architects it was only Ellwood who adopted anything of a Miesian aesthetic. 'Once I became aware of Mies's work and studied his designs', he later acknowledged, 'my work became more like Mies's in the fact that . . . I separated volumes as much as I could from the exterior walls, and I treated these volumes as separate factors ofdesign within the total volume'. 66 The best example of this approach is his Rosen House, built in Brentwood in 1961(Fig. 8). Framed in I-section steels and enclosed in brick panels and glass walls, the pristine quality of the building is emphasised by its sharp details and almost Palladian, nine-square plan: a plan which, however, was imbalanced in the realization by the omission of one set of steps. Nevertheless, as Ellwood insisted, 'the total volume was the important thing. And Mies, in his drawings, rarely allowed an interior partition to touch an exterior wall, and this is what I tried to achieve. I know that Mies had it easy with the Farnsworth House, because there was one person who lived in the house. Philip Johnson had it easy in his glass house because he was the sole occupant. But in my houses, I had a bit of trouble sometimes because I had to satisfy the needs of a family of four -for example, in the Rosen House. Even so, no partition touches the exterior wall'.67 Although the Rosen House clearly was not a system-built or production house, it was, surprisingly, not an overly expensive building. As Ellwood said, 'it cost a lot less than it looks as if it cost'.6s

In January 1961, the year Ellwood built the Rosen House, Koenig published designs for a tightly budgeted, no-frills 'Modern Production House'. For once this was not an experimental house, but a production model then being manufactured in Detroit and erected in Canada. It was, like the Detroit automobile, universal in its application. 'No attempt was made to make the house comply with any regional styles nor were any native materials used. The owner', Avts and Avchitectuve explained, 'did not wish to

I 80 ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

compromise on the basis ofnebulous public acceptance theories'. 69 Like Henry Ford, it would seem, he would give the public any colour so long as it was black.

The one other metal-frame, mass-production scheme which did get offthe ground in these years was, similarly, an 'out-of-state' venture. Although its architect, Raphael Soriano, was now living in Marin County, across the Golden Gate from San Fran- cis~~,'~

it is worth including for two reasons. Firstly, it was the final expression of a continual development on the architect's part and, secondly, it employed a different metal, aluminium.

Soriano's interest in aluminium went back to 1942 when he designed a mobile, folding house for the president of Consolidated Vaultec Aircraft Co. During these war years, a number of younger architects and designers were investigating the possibilities of this strong and extremely lightweight metal. 71 But few, it would seem, could see far beyond its high-technology appeal. Esther McCoy, a long-time recorder of southern Californian architecture, recalled the time:

During the war, many architects and engineers in the aircraft plant (where I spent two years drawing little else but lightening holes in airplane wings) were preparing plans for a future house that was to be brilliantly engineered, furnished with gadgets and clothed in pastoral garb -a marriage between Walden Pond and Douglas Aircraft. It was the outwardness of the industrial message that appealed to them, not the inner compulsion^.^^

But it was the inner compulsions which drove Soriano.In 1950 he had been invited to attend the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) conference in Boca Raton, Florida during which the building potential of aluminium was discussed. The oppor- tunity to employ aluminium presented itselffour years later when Soriano was asked to build a large office building in Burbank for the Adolph Company. Here he employed the prefabrication, assembly method used at the Curtis and Case Study Houses but framed the building in aluminium and steel. The design was widely applauded but did not lead to any further commissions in which aluminium could play a role. So in 1960 Soriano started developing his own Modular Plan Assembly Structures. Referred to as Aluminum Series 500, 600, 700, etcetera (depending on their floor area in square feet), these structures ranged from two-bedroom to five-bedroom houses to double town houses, apartments, warehouses and even fast-food outlets and convenience stores.

A chance meeting with a Japanese developer (Tom Tagawa?) in Hawaii led to the building, in 1965, of eleven all-aluminium houses on the island ofMaui. Here Soriano demonstrated, unequivocally, the usefulness of his Aluminium Series. The buildings were manufactured and pre-assembled in Los Angeles and shipped out to the islands where they were erected by unskilled sugar-cane workers. The lightness ofthe material and the accuracy afforded by the system ensured that the work was fast and uncompli- cated: six men could erect a house in a day. 73 But despite the obvious success of this project, both in economic and constructional terms, Soriano never managed to persuade anybody to take up his system. Its only offshoot was one aluminium house in Los Angeles.

Erected in 1965, the Grossman House employed the same aluminium frame as the Maui houses -V-beam aluminium decking resting on two nine-inch U-section aluminium channels attached to either side of three-inch, square-section aluminium columns. Otherwise the house differed little from the modular, open-plan system

I 82 ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

school building. The School Construction Systems Development Program (SCSD) was set up, in the early 1960s, at Stanford University's Educational Facilities Labora- tories, under a young architect Ezra Ehrenkrantz, to develop standardized building components intended specifically for school construction. Drawing as much on the inspiration of the Hertfordshire schools and Nottingham's CLASP programme as on the example of the metal-frame houses in California, the SCSD programme became, asArts and Avchitecture noted, 'one of the most recent and successful large- scale efforts to overcome the forces, active and passive, which have worked singly and in concert to prevent the development of more efficient and rational construction techniques'. 74

Yet these forces prevailed. As Allen Temko, architectural critic for the San Francisco Chvonicle, wrote ofthe aluminium companies over twenty years ago, 'neither ALCOA nor Reynolds . . . has put up buildings which any ordinary developer could not have done as well . . . not to neglect their even less imaginative competitor, Kaiser Aluminum,I am bound to remark that the Kaiser House, which should have been a radical contribution to residential architecture. . . cravenly simulated wood siding that was hung on a frame that was really wood'.75 Today the freeways are full of automobiles which, like the Ford Country Squire76 are decorated, no less, with cravenly simulated wood siding, now in laminated plastics. And they are still parked every night, as this writer has observed, 'outside timber-framed houses decorated in Spanish, Tudor or, increasingly, Post-Modern styles'.77

So one has to speculate as to why the metal-frame house remained 'The Style that Nearly. . . '. Whereas a car is an appliance, a house is a place in which to live. The limited range of choice which Ford and other automotive manufacturers offered was manageable in such a context: the car could always be 'customized' with an increasing variety of accessories. But the metal-frame house as a prefabricated, factory-produced item lacked the personalizing quality which so many people need in their homes. The Eames House, as a container for objects -and so many objects! -did offer a solution but soon came to be regarded as an object or an artefact itself. Soriano's assembly- method homes allowed the owner very little, if any, flexibility and later attempts to personalize the buildings generally received the architect's scorn. For to these architects it was the structure or system which was primary: Koenig's own house, built in 1985, is today noticeably bare of pictures, hangings or any other decoration. The metal-frame system, as it developed, became a universal vehicle, as adaptable to filling stations, convenience stores, and poultry farms78 as it was to housing. The problem, it seems, was endemic in the product for it suited everything and was specific to nothing. It was an architects' architecture: promoted by a profession collusive to its doctrinaire demands and unreceived by both manufacturers and consumers, each unappreciative of its enormous potential. Bethlehem Steel, for instance, anxious to utilize their plant after the spring rush for the automobile industry, thought of turning to house production but rejected Koenig's designs on the grounds that they appeared to be individualized solutions and therefore were not suited to a mass market:79 and this included Case Study House 21 where product utilization had been the theme! Thus it surely was not, as Esther McCoy has suggested, that 'the steel frame was too strict to lend itself to mass producti~n:'~~

Soriano's houses in Maui disprove this. But it was more the case that

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES

prejudice on the part of the public and even the leaders of the steel industry forced the market to turn to comfortably familiar solutions.

Even as the impetus dwindled within the housing movement in California, its effect was being felt increasingly abroad. Writing in the September 1966 'Eames Celebration' issue of Architectural Deskn Michael Brawne recalled wondering, in 1950, 'whether a system of factory-made parts could be devised in which the components were small and variable enough to make them equally useful and valid for all the buildings within the village, town, city'. If the metal-frame houses of the 19 jos and 1960s had failed in this hope -their concept was useful but, as has been shown, not valid -then the same could not be said of two housing developments which appeared in the canyons to the west of Hollywood during the 1970s. In intent they were different, but in inspiration they were the same.

The idea behind the first, the Willow Glen Houses built by Peter de Bretteville, was 'not so much to build modular housing or to create a prototype for modular housing, but to explore a more pragmatic way [to use] the materials that were a~ailable'.~~

As a result, the two adjacent houses are similar only in as much as they are both containers of space, utilizing one grid and one framed construction process. Both address and adjust to separate orientations and both are individually treated inside. Thus they remain as different as they could be within a common framework. For Helmut Schulitz, building above Coldwater Canyon, the intent was to develop a range of special linkages which could allow him to take ready-made products off the shelf and assemble them into a building system for mass production. As his partner Jurg Lang recalled, this 'was not just a building system which would stamp out identical elements . . . the whole objective of the system [was] that with the different industrialized products one could assemble them in different ways'.s3 In these two developments, the architects seem to have acknowledged the shortcomings of the production house and, rather than force it upon the user as Soriano might have done, have allowed the user to adapt the componets to suit their own lifestyles. In this, perhaps, they are in the tradition of Charles Eames. For, as Michael Brawne noted:

Where the Eames House, however, differs from its nearest predecessor, the steel-framed buildings of Soriano, and also its possible successors, the house of Koenig, Craig Ellwood and others in the Los Angeles area, is that its composition is wholly additive, with frame and cladding not separated, but working together, and that it possesses wit, a quality extremely rare in architecture. Its wit is, of course, largely the result of the additive process, of the seemingly casual juxtaposition of different images.84

And so, the present conundrum now can be readdressed: why was this 'The Style that Nearly . . . '? The answer must lie in the realization that the metal-frame house was not, ipsofacto, a style but a system. And as a system, a facilitator of the additive process and the seemingly casual justaposition of different images, it surely did succeed.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am particularly grateful to Charles Calvo, Craig Ellwood, Pierre Koenig and Julius Shulman for their assistance and advice with the text, and to Morley Baer, Jason Hailey and Julius Shulman for the use of their original photographs. I would also like to thank Peter Draper, the

184 ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

Honorary Editor, for his continued patience during the preparation and eventual conclusion of this extended piece on the other side of the world.

Figs I, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9 are reproduced by courtesy ofJulius Shulman; Fig. 4 is reproduced by courtesy ofJason Hailey; and Fig. 8 is reproduced by courtesy of Morley Baer.

NOTES

I The first part of this article, subtitled 'Developing a regional tradition' appeared in Architectural History, 32 (1989), pp. 152-72. The present sub-title is borrowed from Reyner Banham's Los Angeles: The Architecture ofFour Ecologies (London, 1971)~ p. 223. 2 For a discussion of Arts and Architecture and the Case Study House programme, see Part I, p. 15gff. 3 Arts and Architecture, December 1949, p. 22. 4 Arts and Architecture, January 1945, p. 38. 5 For a discussion of the profession's interest in prefabrication, see part I, pp. 160-612. The one previous attempt to create a modern, mass-produced house had foundered. George Fred Keck had built the Crystal House at Chicago's Century ofProgress International Exposition in 1934 and here, where 'glass and steel were chosen as the materials that go together rapidly and quickly' it was his stated intent 'to design a house of such qualities in such a manner and of such materials that lends itself to mass production'. See Thomas A. Slade, 'The Crystal House of 1934',]ournal of the Society of Architectural Historians, xx~x,no. 4, December 1970, pp. 35-53, 6 Raphael Soriano, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 11July 1988, Claremont, California. 7 Soriano claimed that he was never paid for the Katz house and so preferred to call it the Gato house: Raphael Soriano, interviewed by Neil Jackson, I I July 1988, Claremont, California. For the Katz house, see Architectural Forum October 1947, pp. 108-10. 8 Before the war, Soriano had built the Lee and Cady Warehouse in Ferndale, Michigan (1938), the Jewish Community Center in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles (1938) and the Hallawell Nursery in San Francisco, California (1941). For a discussion of these buildings, see part I, pp. 157-58. 9 For All Steel Houses, Los Angeles, 1938, see Yukio Futagawa (ed), Frank Lloyd Wright Monograph,1937-1941 (Tokyo, 1986)~ pp. 98-99.

10 Arts and Architecture, April 1950, p. 37. Although this passage is not actually attnbuted to Soriano, the tone and use of English would tend to suggest his authorship. I IArts and Architecture, September 1950, p. 37' 12 Ibid. 13 Arts and Architecture, December 1955, p. 8. 14 Ibid., p. 9. 15 ibid., p. 8. 16 Arts and Architecture, January 1956, p. 22. 17 Ibid. 18 Ibid. p. 30. 19 Ibid. 20 Arts and Architecture, April 1955, P. 22. 21 Arts and Architecture, May 1954, pp. 16-17; Herbert L. Smith (ed.) 25 Years ofRecord Houses (New York, 1y81), pp. 76-79; Process Architecture, no. 41 (1983), pp. 123-25. 22 Arts and Architecture, October 1956, p. 22. 23 Sunset. The Magazine of Western Living, October 1956, pp. 131-32. 24 Arts and Architecture, July 1956, p. 26. 25 Arts and Architecture, December 1956, p. 9, 26 Arts and Architecture,November 1956, p. 26. 27 Arts and Architecture, June 1950, pp. 4-44, 28 Arts and Architecture, September 1955, pp. 28-30 and January 1956, PP. 24-25. 29 Michael Brawne, in a letter to Neil Jackson, dated 22 January 1990. 30 Arts and Architecture, September 1955, p. 28. 3I Arts and Arch~tecture, June 1951, pp. 26-27, 42. 32 Richard Neutra, Survival Through Design (New York, 1954). pp 65-66. 33 Arts and Architecture, February 1954, p. 26. 34 Arts and Architecture, June 1950, p. 27. 35Arts and Architecture, April 1952, p. 30. 36 Arts and Architecture, October 1954, p. 22. 37 Arts and Architecture, September 1950, pp. 32-33.

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES 185

38 Arts and Architecture, October 1950, PP. 36-37; Arts and Architecture, March 1951, pp. 26-27; Arts and 

Architecture. July 1953, pp. 24-25. 
39 Arts and Architecture, September 1952, p. 26. 

40 Arts and Architecture, December 1952, p. 32, 41. 
41 Arts and Architecture, May 1953, pp 3-31, 

42 The Morris Studio residence (1956) and the Murakami residence (1962):surprisingly, Morris's innovative

designs have not appeared, as these others have, in Arts and Architecture.

43 Arts and Architecture, May 1960, pp. 27-28 and August 1961,pp. 22-23, P. 28. Zimmerman's house of c. 1962 
was intended to be Case Study House 28. Designed soon after David Travers assumed the editorship of Arts and 

Architecture, it combined a three-storey steel-frame structure on a steeply sloping site with a single-storey 
steel-frame pavilion on a flat site below. It was never built. 

44 Arts and Architecture, July 1961,p. 25. 
45 Arts and Architecture, July 1962, pp. 12-13. 
46 Neutra, Survival, p. 76. 
47 For Lamport, Cofer, Salzman, see part I, p. 155, p. 168. 

48 Craig Ellwood, interviewed by Neil Jackson, I March 1988, Pomona, California. 
49 Arts and Architecture, October 1952, pp. 3-31, 
50 Pierre Koenig, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 13 July 1988, Los Angeles, California. 
51 Idem. and also Arts and Architecture, October 1953, pp 24-25. 
52 Pierre Koenig, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 13 July 1988, Los Angeles, California. 
53 Idem. 
54 Idem. 
$5 Arts and Architecture, March 1957, p. 25. 
56 Ibid. 
57 Arts and Architecture, June 1958, p. 20. 
58 Arts and Architecture, November 1957, p. 19. 

$9 Ibid., pp. 19-35. 

60 Pierre Koenig, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 13 July 1988, Los Angeles, California.

61 Arts and Architecture, February 1959, p. 19.

62 Arts and Architecture, December 1947, pp. 24-27.

63 Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe (New York, 1947)and also Architectural Forum, November 1947, p. 132; Art

Bulletin, June 1948, 156-57; Werk, October 1948, pp 142-43; Art News, September 1947, pp 2-23, 42-43.

64 Craig Ellwood, interviewed by Neil Jackson, I March 1988, Pomona, California.

65 Pierre Koenig, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 13 July 1988, Los Angeles, California.

66 Craig Ellwood, interviewed by Neil Jackson, I March 1988, Pomona, California.

67 Idem.

68 Idem.

69 Arts and Architecture, January 1961,p. 20.

70 Soriano moved from Los Angeles to Mill Valley, California, in 1953.

71 See part I, pp. 15w2.

72 Arts and Architecture, August 1965, pp. 22-23,

73 Raphael Soriano interviewed by Neil Jackson, 11 July 1988, Claremont, California.

74 Arts and Architecture, April 1967, p. 16.

75 Ibid., p. 10. An all-aluminium house was designed for ALCOA by JohnI. Matthias in 1960. Called the

Triennale House, it was published in Arts and Architecture, December 1960, pp. 16-17, p. 29.

76 These are styled after 'Woodies' which were built during the War years with a timber frame, due to the shortage

of steel. See RichardM. Langworth et al., Encyclopedia ofAmerican Cars 1940-1970 (New York, c. 1980).

77 Part I, p. 170.

78 Designs by Soriano for a 7-Eleven store, a MacDonald's Hamburger outlet and a poultry farm, all in his

Aluminium Series, are among the drawings retained in the archives at the College of Environmental Design,

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

79 Pierre Koenig, in conversation with Neil Jackson, 23 February 1990. Los Angeles, California.

80 Esther McCoy, 'Arts and Architecture Case Study Houses'; Elizabeth A. T. Smith, Blueprints for Modern

Living: History and Legacy ofthe Case Study Houses (1989),p. 33.

81 Michael Brawne, 'The Wit of Technology', Architectural Design, September 1966, p. 449.

82 Peter de Bretteville, interviewed by Neil Jackson, 7July 1988, Los Angeles, California.

83 Jurg Lang, interviewed by Neil Jackson 6July 1988, Los Angeles, California.

84 Brawne, 'The Wit ofTechnologyl, pp. 451-52.

I 86 ARCHITECTURAL HISTORY 33: 1990

APPENDIX A catalogue ofmetal-frame houses built in and around Los Angeles

* indicates Case Study Houses t indicates demolished or extensively altered

Peter de Bretteville 8061-71 Willow Glen Road, Los Angeles. 1976 Charles Eames *203 Chautauqua Boulevard, Pacific Palisades. 1949 Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen*205 Chautauqua Boulevard, Pacific Palisades. 1950t Craig Ellwood 400 North Carmelina Avenue, Brentwood. 1949 9618 Yoakum Drive, Beverly Hills. 1950 1036 Tigertail Road, Be1 Air. 1950 *I~II Be1 Air Road, Los Angeles. 1953 1455 Crestwood Hills, Be1 Air. 1952 902 North Roxbury Drive, Beverly Hills. 1952 *9554 Hidden Valley Road, Los Angeles. 1955 1095 Kanter Avenue, Be1 Air. 1955 *I 129 Miradero Road, Beverly Hills. 1958 910 Oakmont Drive, Brentwood. 1961 32320 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. 1961, I970

A. Quincy Jones Jones House, Be1 Air. 19~4-i- Nordlinger House 2, Be1 Air. 1956 Steel and Glass House, Pasadena. 1976 Pierre Koenig 2002 LOS Encinos, Glendale. 19~ot 1884 Los Encinos, Glendale. 1952 5323 Palm Drive, La Canada. 1953 10300 Haines Canyon Road, Tujunga. 1953 9520 Amoret Drive, Tujunga. 1957 *go38 Wonderland Park Avenue, Los Angeles. 1959 *1636 Woods Drive, Los Angeles. 1960 2727 Mandeville Canyon Road, Los Angeles. 1960, 1981 42560 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. 1961 1355 North Budy Drive, Los Angeles. 1962 5200 Crestwind, Palos Verdes. 1962 912 Summit Place, Monterey Park. 1963 I 7446 Ravello Drive, Pacific Palisades. 1963 643 I La Punta, Hollywood. 1980 12221 Dorothy Street, Los Angeles. 1985 Allyn Morris 2390 Silver Ridge Avenue, Los Angeles. 1956 2378 Silver Lake, Los Angeles. 1962

METAL-FRAME HOUSES IN LOS ANGELES

Richard Neutra 
4616 Dundee Drive, Los Angeles. I929 
1981 Meadowbank Drive, Altadena. 1934 
512 Ocean Front, Santa Monica. 1938 

Helmut Schulitz 
9356 Lloydcrest Drive, Los Angeles. 1977 

Raphael Soriano 
Katz House, Van Nuys. 1947 
"1080 Ravoli Drive, Pacific Palisades. 1950 
I I I Stone Canyon Road, Be1 Air. 1950t 
7875 Woodrow Wilson Drive, Hollywood. 1950 
2648 Commonwealth Avenue, Los Angeles. 1951 
I 1468 Dona Cecelia Drive, Studio City. 1964

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