Sixties Modern Revival
Big news! We have acquired the rights to sell copies of four original mid-century modern Eichler plans — they’re the latest additions to our Exclusive Studio Collection. These rare historical designs were done in the 1960s by architect Claude Oakland for California developer Joe Eichler. It was Eichler who brought award-winning modern architecture to the suburbs in the 1950s and 1960s when he hired contemporary architects like Anshen & Allen and Jones & Emmons to design his subdivision houses in the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California. At Anshen & Allen the principal designer for Eichler homes was Oakland, who had studied briefly with maverick architect Bruce Goff. In 1960 Eichler contracted directly with Oakland, allowing him to start his own firm. Here’s a photo of Joe and Claude reviewing a set of working drawings:
Joe’s in the glasses. The firm became Oakland and Imada Architects in the 1970s — Kinji Imada had studied with Walter Gropius at Harvard. While most of their work was for Eichler, they also designed redevelopment housing and other projects. Oakland died in 1989; Imada in 2005.
The following image of a typical Oakland living room is emblematic (photograph by Ernie Braun / courtesy Eichler Network Archives, all rights reserved).
All the Eichler characteristics are here: an exposed post-and-beam one story structure, floor to ceiling walls of glass, and the promise of easy indoor-outdoor living. Furnishings are casual, uncluttered, and contemporary. It remains a powerfully seductive image of modernity for a mass market.
Our Eichler plans were designed for two Bay Area developments – one in Mill Valley and one in the East Bay Hills. Plan 470-4 is organized around an open-air atrium, a feature that Eichler made famous.
The front door is really the gate beside the garage and opens to a passage leading to the atrium. Straight ahead, the second front door opens to the loggia adjacent to the living room.
A friendly gabled street facade gives no hint of the spatial surprise — the atrium — within.
Plan 470-1 is distinctive in that it contains a so-called “hobby room” behind the garage.
The kitchen is conveniently situated between garage and the entry and can be entered from both sides. A long low overhanging gable running parallel to the street
pulls the facade into an orderly line.
Plan 470-2, for a somewhat narrower lot, puts the entry between
kitchen and garage and includes a large “gallery” that functions like a great room.
The facade combines offset flat and gable roofs in a crisp contemporary composition.
Plan 470-3, below, is an unusual two story Eichler.
The layout is wide and relatively narrow, with a generous entry to accommodate the stairway.
An efficient and graceful circulation plan on the ground floor allows each room to flow into the other without wasteful dead-end spaces.
Upstairs, airiness and outdoor living dominate with front and rear balconies and a two-story living room.
A percentage of the price of each plan supports the Environmental Design Archives at U. C. Berkeley, which preserves the original Oakland/Imada drawings and the records of other significant California architects and landscape architects.
For an architectural history of Eichler homes see the excellent Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream (Gibbs Smith, 2002)
by Paul Adamson and Marty Arbunich with photography by Ernie Braun. Information and advice about Eichler communities is available from the Eichler Network (www.eichlernetwork.com), which publishes the informative quarterly CA Modern.
We’ll provide ideas and advice for updating these Eichler plans for today’s energy codes and lifestyles in future postings. Also see our Eichler-inspired plans by New Jersey architect Gregory La Vardera, California architect Robert Nebolon, and Alabama designer Daniel E. Bush, which are part of the Exclusive Studio Collection, with more to come.