Small (often illegal) studios riddle the Hollywood Hills, where all ilk of entertainment-oriented folk hash out their hits and edit down their next Oscar-worthy performances. . . or so the stereotype goes.
This is such a studio – a miniature white cube set deep into the hillside with a service shed and private garden adjacent. Upon approach, only the pyramidal skylight is visible, slowly revealing the tall archways underneath upon descending a spiral stair. The form itself owes much to both Irving Gill and O.M. Ungers, with a few picturesque moments from Wallace Neff’s Spanish Colonial Revivalism thrown in for good measure. Upcoming posts will feature the interior of the studio, with that large skylight and intricate trusswork above.
What we have today is a study in similarities and contrasts – two houses, separated by a continent in distance (and climate), two distinct architectural styles (and building materials), and about fifty or so years of time (and appreciation.
The first (up top), is McKim Mead & White’s iconic Low House of 1886 at Bristol, Rhode Island, a long shallow gable of shingles, punctured by a subtle staccato of windows and oriels, all subsumed into the larger singular gable form. The second, Cary Grant’s Spanish Colonial Palm Springs residence of 1930, a shallow stuccoed gable punctured by deep-set windows and shaded by deep eaves and wood porches (now partially obscured by a later Wallace Neff designed addition).*
So naturally, why not try to bang ’em together? My initial reaction (below) is probably more Low than Grant, with protruding bays and banded windows, but is coated in white stucco like its Californian pedigree. I suppose a few more deep-set singular casement windows might just do the trick.
* Apparently, the home was originally constructed by Santa Monica based architect John Byers for one Julian Noles, a recent west coast transplant from Chicago – more info here.
A friend and I were out exploring the local architectural haunts here in the Los Angeles area, which in this case included Pasadena’s Gamble House of 1908 as well as the other Greene & Greene homes studding the neighborhood. One of these sits kitty-corner to Frank Lloyd Wright’s La Miniatura (or Millard House) of 1923, and I noticed a lovely wrought iron gate at the rear of the property, almost coyly unimpressive against dynamic klinker brick wall. I began to think of my own home, and if a similar wrought iron gate would work against its Spanish revival aesthetic, with some details massaged here and there. Not a building per se, but a linguistic study nonetheless. Now if I can just find a blacksmith and a few dollars. . .
Driving along the coast through Laguna Beach, I noticed a funky little structure now operating as the offices for a small auto repair shop – it was clearly an old gas station, with the concrete pump pads still extant, which I’ve drawn in the top-most drawing. The fascinating bit was that the overall building was a gabled Spanish stucco hut, complete with a red tile roof and chimney, but the service awning was a flat modernist roof, and which cut deep into the gabled volume. The overlap and simultaneity of languages was so simple, irreverent, and playful. So I did my own variation: the plan is the bottom half of the top drawing, the half-elevations are below.
A typical typology of Southern California, the bungalow court is typified by a series of low, one-story units arrayed around a small courtyard, all fit onto a single residential lot. Most often, the structures were fitted in the Spanish Colonial Revival, Moderne, or (less frequently) the Arts and Crafts styles. My interpretation favors a hybrid language of the Moderne with hints of Gill. After drawing a perfectly fine elevation, I couldn’t help myself but to fit out a delightful little tiempetto on the corner. . . working a bit of Michael Graves back into things – because, why not?