Looking Back: Three Favorite Listings from 2020Author:Philip Ferrato
In the course of a year, I write dozens of real estate posts for CH+D, and every December, I choose three favorites. This year, one common thread appeared among the houses that resonated most for me. All three were originally designed by influential Mid-Century architects– Ernest Born, Richard Neutra, William Wurster– and renovated by equally interesting contemporary practitioners– Aidlin Darling, Marmol Radziner, and Boyd Design.
All three renovations were guided by the concept of stewardship, bringing a deeply respectful approach to these significant, historic properties without diminishing their inherent character. Click on the links for the original posts. –PF
Ernest Born x Aidlin Darling
In 2006, Aidlin Darling Design undertook the renovation and expansion of what was originally the c.1949 home of architect Ernest Born and Esther Born, his wife and business partner. Occupying an exceptionally large oceanfront lot on Great Highway planted with cypresses, the firm sensitively recast the house for a surfer couple and their then-teenage surfer sons, building an adjoining 3-story structure clad in CorTen steel and connected to the original on the second level with a bridge walled with acid-etched glass; the original interiors were respectfully buffed and polished.
Richard Neutra x Marmol Radziner
Possibly one of the world’s trophy properties, Richard Neutra’s c.1946 Desert House was built for Edgar J. Kaufman, the Pittsburgh department store magnate who had previously commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design his weekend home, the iconic and unforgettable Fallingwater. First documented by Julius Shulman and later by Slim Aarons, published images of the Desert House would alter the way people thought they could live.
Much-altered and neglected after Kaufman’s demise, it was brought back to life by entrepreneur Brent Harris and architectural historian Beth Edwards Harris with a deeply researched and impeccably executed 5-year rehabilitation that began in 1992, overseen by Marmol Radziner.
William Wurster x Boyd Design
William Wurster had a hugely successful and long career with a portfolio ranging from deceptively simple houses for very rich clients to massive urban reuse projects like Ghirardelli Square, plus a deep influence on generations of architects and planners as the longtime head of what would become UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design.
But more directly, it was those beautifully crafted but simple houses that would resonate through Northern California (and especially the Bay Area) like this one in North Beach for a chewing gum heiress, built in 1940 before wartime restrictions curtailed construction. Here, in the hands of serial restorers and architecture collectors Gabrielle and Michael Boyd of Boyd Design, the house remains true to its origins.