Extreme Real Estate: Architecture


Each week MainStreet takes a look at what we call Extreme Real Estate. This week we bring you: Masterful Moderns on the Market.

From the early 1930s through the 1960s, maverick modern architects used new tools, new technologies and new-fangled materials to revolutionize the ways in which houses were constructed but also to re-conceive the very notion of what a house is, how it functions and what it looks like. Unfortunately, many of America’s streamlined mid-century modern homes have been either razed or renovated beyond recognition. However, starting in the mid to late 1980s, modernism aficionados began buying, restoring and protecting properties designed and built by some of the worlds most celebrated architects.

A Connecticut Contemporary
In 1952, Chinese born and Yale trained modernist architect King-lui Wu was given his first residential commission when Yale professor Irving Rouse asked him to design an experimental house on a wooded one-are lot in North Haven, Conn., just outside New Haven. The idea was to show that an architect-designed house could be built at a moderate cost: in this case, just $20,000.

The resulting structure, called the Rouse House, is a compact but well organized 1,450 square foot home with eight rooms arranged around a utility core that facilitates a circular flow pattern in the three bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms.

Wu cleverly put portholes in the wall between the kitchen and play room so Mrs. Rouse could keep an eye on her children while she cooked. In the living room, a geometric masonry fireplace was designed by Bauhaus trained abstract artist Josef Albers.

The Rouse family occupied the residence for 52 years until it was purchased in 2006 by its current owners who carefully and gently restored the residence. Homes by noted architects seldom come on the cheap, but the Rouse House is currently available for a reasonable $375,000.

For more information contact Gregory Gomes at greg@gregorygomes.com.

A Pristine Pad in Pacific Palisades
Before the Rouse House was even a glimmer in King-lui Wu’s eye, Viennese born modernism pioneer Richard Neutra was designing sleek, sophisticated and glassy houses in California in which he married geometric forms with the specific functional needs of his clients. The Leon Barsha Residence, one of Neutra’s earlier works, was built in 1938 in Hollywood, Calif., but was later moved to its current location in the rustic Santa Monica Canyon area of Pacific Palisades in order to make way for an expansion of the Hollywood freeway.

The property fell into a state of dire disrepair until its current owner stepped in to rehabilitate the clean lined three-bedroom and two-bathroom house with a sensitive eye for Neutra’s original design intentions. A museum quality renovation included updating all systems, saving and restoring the original bathroom hardware as well as the original full wall of floor to ceiling windows that look out over the walled and landscaped grounds. The Barsha Residence is currently on the market with an asking price of $2,195,000.

For more information contact Crosby Doe (310-275-2222 x579) or J.R. Davidson (310-550-3589) at Crosby Doe Associates, Inc.

For more Extreme Real Estate, check out our photo gallery of beautiful, unique and just plain weird homes.

Related Stories:
Extreme Real Estate: Historic Homes

Extreme Real Estate: Penthouses

Extreme Real Estate: Pretty Prefab Pads

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