Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Mark Your Calendar: Eichler-O-Rama

Looks like a big weekend in the Bay Area for fans of Eichlers -- those quintessential "California Modern" homes of the Fifties and Sixties.

On Sunday, September 16, the Oakland Heritage Alliance hosts "The Eichlers of Oakland: Modernism at Home in the Hills." The docent-led walking tour will feature an enclave of mid-Sixties Eichler homes in the Oakland Hills. Tickets are $15. (Update: Unfortunately, this tour is sold out; hopefully the OHA will offer it again next year.)

Over in Marin County, don't miss the Open Hearts, Open Homes Tour, a benefit for Hospice by the Bay. On Saturday and Sunday, September 15 and 16, the docent-guided tour will feature more than two dozen Eichler homes in San Rafael, plus an "Eichler Expo" with Eichler-centric vendors and service pros. Tickets are $50 for one day, or $80 for both days.

If you're not familiar with Joseph Eichler (in glasses at left), he was a visionary builder who erected thousands of affordable modern homes in the Bay Area and Southern California from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. Though not an architect himself, his groundbreaking vision is apparent in every home he built, and he hired some of the most influential California architects of his time, including A. Quincy Jones and Claude Oakland (also pictured at left).

Eichler's post-and-beam homes defined "California living" after WWII, and his firm pioneered the notion of open floorplans and indoor-outdoor design, with walls of glass making the distinction between interior and exterior practically melt away. Many Eichler homes feature vaulted ceilings, atriums, in-floor radiant heating (revolutionary at the time), and prolific use of natural materials like teak and redwood.

Eichler was also dedicated to building truly modern homes for families of modest means and all races, and the neighborhoods he developed were among the first integrated ones in many of the communities in which he worked.

Today, of course, Eichlers are in high demand among fans of midcentury modern architecture, and can fetch upwards of a million dollars (or more) apiece. Two iconic Eichler neighborhoods in Palo Alto were recently added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Here's a look at a few Eichler homes both then and now, courtesy of Eichler for Sale, the Eichler Network, Eichler SoCal, Family Circle magazine, Marin Modern, and the San Francisco Chronicle:

Click here for more info on the "Eichlers of Oakland" tour, and here for info on the Marin Eichler tour.

To learn more about Joseph Eichler and his homes, pick up one of these beautiful coffee table books on the man and his work:

* Eichler Homes: Design for Living, by Jerry Ditto and Lanning Stern, with photographs by Marvin Wax (Chronicle Books, $30)

* Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream, by Paul Adamson and Marty Arbunich (compiler), with photographs by Ernie Braun (Gibbs Smith Publisher, $50)

* Atomic Ranch: Design Ideas for Stylish Ranch Homes, by Michelle Gringeri-Brown, with photographs by Jim Brown (Gibbs Smith Publisher, $40)

7 comments:

katiedid said...

Great post Leah! Lots of good ifo. There are alot of Eichler-esque homes and true Eichlers in Sacramento too. And ton of "atomic ranches". People are really fixing them up...young edgey home buyers that appreciate the style.

beachbungalow8 said...

wow. really good post. like a little mini symposium. love eichler's work

becky said...

Fabulous post - love the pics! That second book you mention is absolutely fantastic and a bargain to boot!

casacaudill said...

my husband loves eichlers and yet everytime i try to get him to go on one of these tours, he comes up with a lame excuse why we cannot. i'm starting to think that years ago he saw an eichler, liked it, made a big deal out of it, and now he's just so-so on it all but he doesn't want to admit it because of afore mentioned big deal. =) it's the only logical explanation for why he wouldn't want to see one (or several) in person.

Helena said...

Really great write up. Thanks for the education.

Gaytha said...

I love Eichler homes. I also linked this blog entry to a comment in AT today... Thank you again for sharing!

Gerry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
 

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