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Above: Saul and Dr. Ruth Bass poolside at Case Study House #20(B). Located in Altadena, California the home was designed by Buff, Straub, and Hensman in 1958. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
Each house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual ‘performance’… It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture Magazine of the Case Study House program
It has always struck me as a little odd that there are two Case Study Houses numbered 20. Perhaps John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine who spearheaded the Case Study House program (and himself lived in CSH #9), simply lost count when assigning the commissions. The first Case Study House 20(A) is the Stuart Bailey House located in the Pacific Palisades and designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1948. The second Case Study House number 20 was built ten years later. Designed by the architectural firm of Buff, Straub Hensman Case Study House 20(B) – the Bass House – is located in Altadena, California and was completed in 1958. This article is about the latter, the ‘B’ house.
Architectural model of Case Study House 20(B) – the Bass House located in Altadena, California and completed in 1958. Shown in the model the barrel-vaulted roof with allowed for more natural light into the home. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
Architectural model of Case Study House 20(B) – the Bass House located in Altadena, California and completed in 1958. To the center left of the image you can see the representation of a large tree that the owners insisted remain on site. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
Case Study House 20B differs is many ways from many of the other Case Study Houses with one of the primary differences is that the home is framed in wood rather than steel. Working closely with the owners – renowned graphic illustrator Saul Bass and his wife biochemist Dr. Ruth Bass – the architects were very interested in the possibilities of wood as it pertained to mass production in home construction. The home owners also wanted a house that was more sculptural in form so features such as curved interior ceiling, barrel-vaulted roof, and circular brick fireplace were incorporated to reflect a home that was well suited to the home owner’s needs and desires. An unusual request of the Bass’ was that a large tree that was located on the site remain with the result being one wall of the home resting against the massive trunk of the tree as it soars through the open lattice of the terrace roof. The tree has since been removed.
Elevation of Case Study House #20(B) designed by Buff, Straub, and Hensman in 1958.
Floor plan of Case Study House #20(B) designed by Buff, Straub, and Hensman in 1958.
Case study House 20(B) is one of my personal favorites of the Case Study Program. It also happened to one of the smallest and was the least expensive of the Case Study Houses to build. CSH 20(B) also demonstrates quite well that the relationship between the architects and the home owners need not be a clash of personal ‘wants’ versus design ‘solutions’. The result is a home that, like so many well-designed modern homes of the era, is a masterstroke of architecture that offers an almost seamless blend of interior and exterior spaces with an open plan that allows for natural light from all sides as well as the vaulted ceiling. CSH 20(B) is also a brilliant testament that functional and attractive design can be achieved on a relatively modest budget. It’s a wonderful house that’s still there today, although I believe the barrel-vaulted roof has been replaced with a flat one.
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Case Study House 20(B) as it is today. Photo: Kansas Sebastian / flickr
Click here for the original August, 1959 Arts & Architecture magazine article about Case Study House #20(B)
About illustrator Saul Bass
Saul Bass (1920 – 1996) was instrumental in create a new American Minimalism in modern graphic design. With economy of color and utilizing almost rough, elemental forms his designs have become icons of the era, with many of his logo and corporate identity works still in use today.
Saul Bass (May 8, 1920 – April 25, 1996) was an American graphic designer and Academy Award winning filmmaker, best known for his design of motion picture title sequences, film posters, and corporate logos.
During his 40-year career Bass worked for some of Hollywood’s most prominent filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Among his most famous title sequences are the animated paper cut-out of a heroin addict’s arm for Preminger’s The Man with the Golden Arm, the credits racing up and down what eventually becomes a high-angle shot of a skyscraper in Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, and the disjointed text that races together and apart in Psycho.
Bass designed some of the most iconic corporate logos in North America, including the Bell System logo in 1969, as well as AT&T’s globe logo in 1983 after the breakup of the Bell System. He also designed Continental Airlines’ 1968 jet stream logo and United Airlines’ 1974 tulip logo, which became some of the most recognized airline industry logos of the era.
The iconic designs of Illustrator Saul Bass. Click on image for full view3965falsefalsetruetruetruefalseautofalseease-in-out300false0truetruePrevious (Left arrow key)Next (Right arrow key)
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The whimsical signature of illustrator Saul Bass
Check out these great book about the case study program and Saul Bass!
The Case Study Houses were experiments in American residential architecture sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, which commissioned major architects of the day, including Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, Eero Saarinen, A. Quincy Jones, Edward Killingsworth, and Ralph Rapson to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes for the United States residential housing boom caused by the end of World War II and the return of millions of soldiers.
The program ran intermittently from 1945 until 1966. The first six houses were built by 1948 and attracted more than 350,000 visitors. While not all 36 designs were built, most of those that were constructed were built in Los Angeles, and one was built in San Rafael, Northern California and Phoenix, Arizona each. Of the unbuilt houses #19 was to have been built in Atherton, in the San Francisco Bay Area, while #27 was to have been built on the east coast, in Smoke Rise, New Jersey.
A number of the houses appeared in the magazine in iconic black-and-white photographs by architectural photographer Julius Shulman.
List of Case Study Houses
|Number||Name||Architect(s)||Publication||Constructed||Status||Address||City||Arts & Architecture|
|1||J. R. Davidson||February 1945||1945||Unbuilt||CSH#1|
|1||J. R. Davidson||February 1948||1948||Extant||10152 Toluca Lake Avenue||North Hollywood||CSH#1||VGT|
|2||Sumner Spaulding and John Rex||August 1947||1947||Extant||857 Chapea Road||Pasadena||CSH#2||VGT|
|3||William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi||March 1949||1949||Demolished||13187 Chalon Road||Los Angeles||CSH#3||VGT|
|4||Greenbelt House||Ralph Rapson||September 1945||1989||Exhibit: Museum of Contemporary Art of Los Angeles||CSH#4|
|5||Loggia House||Whitney R. Smith||April 1946||Unbuilt||CSH#5|
|6||Omega||Richard Neutra||October 1945||Unbuilt||CSH#6|
|7||Thornton Abell||July 1948||1948||Extant||6236 North Deerfield Avenue||San Gabriel||CSH#7||VGT|
|8||Eames House||Charles and Ray Eames||December 1949||1949||Extant||203 Chautauqua Boulevard||Pacific Palisades||CSH#8||VGT|
|9||Entenza House||Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen||July 1950||1949||Extant||205 Chautauqua Boulevard||Pacific Palisades||CSH#9||VGT, VGT|
|10||Kemper Nomland and Kemper Nomland, Jr.||October 1947||1947||Significantly Altered||711 South San Rafael Avenue||Pasadena||CSH#10||VGT|
|11||J. R. Davidson||July 1946||1946||Demolished||540 South Barrington Avenue||West Los Angeles||CSH#11|
|12||Whitney R. Smith||February 1946||Unbuilt||CSH#12|
|13||Alpha||Richard Neutra||March 1946||Unbuilt||CSH#13|
|15||J. R. Davidson||January 1947||1947||Extant||4755 Lasheart Drive||La Cañada Flintridge||CSH#15||VGT|
|16||Rodney Walker||February 1947||1947||Demolished||9945 Beverly Grove Drive||Beverly Hills||CSH#16|
|17A||Rodney Walker||July 1947||1947||Extant||7861 Woodrow Wilson Drive||Los Angeles||CSH#17||VGT|
|17B||Craig Ellwood||March 1956||1956||Remodeled Beyond Recognition||9554 Hidden Valley Road||Beverly Hills||CSH#17|
|18A||West House||Rodney Walker||February 1948||1948||Extant||199 Chautauqua Boulevard||Pacific Palisades||CSH#18||VGT|
|18B||Fields House||Craig Ellwood||June 1958||1958||Remodeled Beyond Recognition||1129 Miradero Road||Beverly Hills||CSH#18||VGT|
|19A||Don Knorr||September 1947||Unbuilt||CSH#19|
|20A||Stuart Bailey House||Richard Neutra||December 1948||1948||Extant||219 Chautauqua Boulevard||Pacific Palisades||CSH#20||VGT|
|20B||Bass House||C. Buff, C. Straub, D. Hensman||November 1958||1958||Extant||2275 Santa Rosa Avenue||Altadena||CSH#20|
|21A||Richard Neutra||May 1947||Unbuilt||CSH#21|
|21B||Walter Bailey House||Pierre Koenig||February 1959||1958||Extant||9038 Wonderland Park Avenue||West Hollywood||CSH#21||VGT|
|1950||Raphael Soriano||December 1950||1950||Remodeled||1080 Ravoli Drive||Pacific Palisades||CSH1950||VGT|
|1953||Craig Ellwood||June 1953||1953||Extant||1811 Bel Air Road||Bel-Air||CSH1953||VGT|
|22||Stahl House||Pierre Koenig||June 1960||1960||Extant||1635 Woods Drive||Los Angeles||CSH#22||VGT|
|23||Triad||Killingsworth, Brady, Smith & Assoc.||March 1961||1960||Extant (23A and 23C), 23B Remodeled Beyond Recognition||2329 (C), 2342 (A) and 2343 (B) Rue de Anne ||La Jolla||CSH#23||VGT|
|24||A. Quincy Jones and Frederick E. Emmons||December 1961||Unbuilt||CSH#24|
|25||Frank House||Killingsworth, Brady, Smith & Assoc.||December 1962||1962||Extant||82 Rivo Alto Canal||Long Beach||CSH#25||VGT|
|26||Harrison House||Beverley "David" Thorne||January 1963||1963||Extant||177 San Marino Drive||San Rafael||CSH#26||VGT|
|27||Campbell and Wong||June 1963||Unbuilt||CSH#27|
|28||Case Study House #28||C. Buff and D. Hensman||September 1965||1966||Extant||91 Inverness Road||Thousand Oaks||CSH#28||VGT|
|Apt 1||Alfred N. Beadle and Alan A. Dailey||September 1964||1964||Extant||4402 28th Street||Phoenix, Arizona||CSApts#1||VGT|
|Apt 2||Killingsworth, Brady, Smith & Assoc.||May 1964||Unbuilt||CSApts#2|
- Entenza, John (January 1945) "Announcement: The Case Study House Program". Arts and Architecture
- McCoy, Esther. "Case Study Houses". 2nd edition. 1977, ISBN, Hennessey & Ingalls
- Smith, Elizabeth A. T. (1989). Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses. Cambridge: MIT Press. ISBN.
- Smith, Elizabeth and Peter Goessel (2002). Case Study Houses: The Complete CSH Program,. Taschen. ISBN.
- Smith, Elizabeth A. T. (2007). Case Study Houses. Taschen. ISBN 978-3-8228-4617-9.
- Travers, David (January 2007) "About Arts & Architecture" Arts & Architecture website - accessed March 3, 2009