First Look: Sublime Roger Lee in Orinda, $1.3MAuthor:Philip Ferrato
Where: 73 Tara Drive, Orinda
When: Saturday and Sunday, May 27-28 from 1:00pm-4:00pm
What: On the market for the first time since it was built in 1958, the Gene and Elaine Yee house, designed by architect Roger Yuen Lee (1920-1981) may be one of the finest examples of Lee’s work. A 1941 graduate of UC Berkeley’s famed School of Architecture (now the College of Environmental Design) Lee built dozens of practical, light-filled homes in the East Bay and became known for a style of affordable, middle-class Modernism throughout the ‘50s. It was an aesthetic well suited to both the intellectual ambiance in Berkeley (and the budgets) of newly-minted academics.
Lee left the Bay Area in 1964, moving his practice to Hawaii where he continued to design residential projects. Even though the house is on a large lot and has a long drive, the entry/motor court (below) doesn’t give much away.
The Yee house went a bit beyond Lee’s “affordable” commissions– it’s clearly a more expensive house than the ones dotting the Berkeley Hills. The 3-bed, 2-bath home takes advantage of classic post-and-beam construction, giving it an expansive, interlocking plan with vast expanses of glass framing the both the surrounding landscape and the central atrium.
What We Love: Making it look easy, Lee created an unforgettable structure of the greatest simplicity in just a few strokes. It hasn’t been much altered by ill-advised renovations, and “original-owner” houses are increasingly hard to come by.
Below, the master bedroom; one of the bedrooms is divisible with a folding screen.
More: Have a look at the agent’s dedicated site for the property for additional images and a very seductive video.