Anna's Architect Designed Listings and Her Love for Midcentury Architecture

Anna's Architect Designed Listings and Her Love for Midcentury Architecture

I’ve had the great privilege to list some incredible homes designed by noted architects. I grew up in Barcelona, where architecture surrounds you, from the Roman ruins to the gothic cathedrals to Gaudi. Part of my love for real estate comes from my upbringing, experiencing  the beauty of the buildings and  the spaces they created.

With each one of the homes below, I took special care to find out about their architects, to get to know the context in which they designed. I spent time reaching out to museums, digging into the plans, talking to neighbors — everything I could find out about them made me able to fully explain them and bring their history to life for potential buyers. Here, I am excited to share the backgrounds of some of these wonderful residences with you.

The homes below range from 1953 to 2007, and I’ve been lucky to have been granted access and the ability to shepherd these properties. As time went on, you can see the evolutions of style, as well as what values and tenets prevailed.

 

Yosemite Rd, North Berkeley

Steiner, 1953

When researching the architect’s name from the building permits, we found out the name of the architect was A. Steiner. We assume him to be Carlton Arthur Steiner, who back in the 1950s, had an architectural firm in Berkeley. 

We reached out to the Palm Springs Art Museum (which keeps good records of mid-century architects), and they pointed us in the direction of a couple of buildings A. Steiner had designed. 

According to the information provided by the Palm Springs Art Museum, he also designed  the Plymouth Congregational Church, Oakland, CA (1957–1959).

 

Shelvin Ave, El Cerrito 

Walter Thomas Brooks, 1965

I sold this house in 2017. From the street, it seemed like a regular 1950s home, but in the back, there was a small cottage the sellers called the Brook’s Cottage that made it extra-special.

The addition was commissioned in 1965 to a then-young architect named Walter Thomas Brooks, and it was finished in 1966. 

Browsing the web, I found an interesting article about Brooks, published in 2006 by the San Francisco Chronicle, in which the architect explains his vision and ideals, some of which you can see reflected in the cottage.

More info: Facebook Walter Thomas Brooks

 

2877 Buena Vista Ave, Berkeley Hills

Daniel Solomon, 1972

Daniel Solomon built this home in 1972, then went on to become a highly recognized architect. A professor emeritus at Cal, he was there at the same time as C. Groch.

Bright and airy, the home’s interior is flooded with natural light. It epitomizes the 1970s architectural principles of simplicity, minimalism and a great flow, and the mid-century ideals of bringing the outdoors into the house. Floor-to-ceiling windows, an open floor plan and a seating area reminiscent of a 1950s conversation pit all add to this home’s feeling of serenity, openness and functionality.

 

Fairlawn Ave, Berkeley Hills

Val Powelson, 1975

In 1975, noted architect Val Powelson and his wife, Aud, built Fairlawn Drive for themselves. I  reached out to the Palm Springs Museum of Art Architecture and Design Center and was able to gather quite a bit of information from Frank Lopez, archivist and librarian. 

He told us Powelson was a sailor and that he may have even built a few boats. Frank shared several old photographs of Powelson’s Berkeley houses that had been donated by Powelson’s widow, a painter and sculptor now living in Oslo. Included was the photograph of 21 Fairlawn by Henry Bowles, who was then living at 141 Fairlawn.

When she found out the house was for sale, Aud wrote: “Val was very happy with [the house]. It is my favorite; it is a sculpture. Most of the people that loved it were artists.”

If you google some of Powelson’s projects, you will find great examples of incredible mid-century architecture. The Maranz Residence, for example, has been used on several occasions as a backdrop for photoshoots (Preservation Foundation) and is as iconic as it gets!

 

Northgate Ave, Berkeley Hills

Carl Groch, 1975

Carl Groch built this home for his family in the 1970s. He was a Cal alumnus who was influenced by mid-century ideals, as you can still see in the house. While we were doing the open houses, Groch came to see it with his daughter. It was so lovely to meet him! He told me the beams were actually exposed back when he built it, very much like a Sea Ranch home. The use of organic, natural materials was one of the 1970s’ ideals.

He still lives in the area and has built several homes in the Bay Area.

C. Groch

 

Delaware St, North Berkeley

Ned Forrest,  1979

I sold two properties in this compound, which was designed by Ned Forrest and built in the late 1970s

The cottage at 2014 Delaware St. was one of the first projects by Forrest, now an award-winning architect of wineries, museums and high-end residences based in Sonoma, California.

Among his designs are the Frog’s Leap Winery in Napa and the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville.

Having been told in April 2017 that the cottage at 2014 Delaware was to be sold, Forrest commented on the overall inspiration of his Berkeley effort and some of its unusual architectural features: “The project was designed and built under the spell of Bernard Maybeck. The townhouses are a fantasy idea of building a renaissance palazzo using shingles in the manner of masonry. The cottage was designed around several salvage window elements.”

 

Hillview Ave, Berkeley Hills

Vittorio Salvo, 2007

Built in 2007, this Contemporary, which uses steel-framed construction with walls of glass, in the Berkeley Hills overlooks Lake Anza — one of few properties that do.

When looking at it, can you see the influence that all of its predecessors had in his style? The large windows, how connected the house is to the nature that surrounds it, you can go back 50 years and see so many similarities!

I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years bring!


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