Build a Mid-century Modern Case Study House

By Kate Battle

Case Study House #3 -- an historic Mid-century Modern design by William Wurster & Theodore Bernardi.

The Case Study Houses were a series of mid century modern home designs created by famed architects such as Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and many more. They were commissioned beginning in 1945 by John Entenza, the owner and editor of Arts & Architecture magazine. Over the next two decades, 36 Case Study home plans were designed and 26 were actually constructed. The plan we spotlight today was built in Los Angeles...

The description on says:

Case Study House #3 is a modern H-shaped plan that celebrates nature with a tall, covered, indoor-outdoor room called “the porch” between the kitchen/dining/living area and the bedroom wing. It’s basically a modern version of the “dogtrot” — two rooms separated by a breezeway — a classic early American vernacular plan. The carport is cranked away from the main rectangle to meet the driveway. Another distinctive feature is the “work room” adjacent to the kitchen. It was conceived as a hobby room but could become a mudroom/laundry. A few details would need to be updated (the master bathroom is small by today’s standards) but the graceful flow between rooms, the elegant windows and doors, and the generous use of sheltered outdoor space make this design compelling. In order to respect the historic nature of this project the drawings are sold unaltered.

William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi

The architects who collaborated on this design — William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi — worked together in the same firm.The American National Biography Online has a good biography of Wurster.

His home designs throughout the San Francisco area came to be known as the “Bay Area Style”. He later became dean of the the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. There, the site says:
… Wurster moved quickly to shake the foundation of architectural education. Viewing architecture as a social art and not simply structural technology, he sought to broaden the curriculum to include social research, economics, geography, and political science.
In 1949 Wurster became dean of the architecture school at Berkeley, where he continued to transform the curriculum to reflect the growing importance of architectural and design disciplines in the U.S.The Online Archive of California, meanwhile, has a good biography of Theodore C. Bernardi. Originally an employee of Wurster’s, Bernardi’s role in the firm grew to such importance that he became a partner in 1946, when, also joined by Donn Emmons, it became Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons.We’ve now seen a bundle of historic mid century house plans — Eichlers, Mays, Sea Ranch cottages, and now the Case Study.

It’s so exciting to see renewed interest in making these “originals” available again for a new generation to build and enjoy. Thanks to folks at, for hunting them down, and bringing them back!

Read more: Build a Case Study House -- 1945 design by William Wurster & Theodore Bernardi available at - Retro Renovation 

Originally Published in Retro Renovation

Thu Jan 23 00:00:00 PST 2014