PS Modernism Week: Raymond Loewy House

Dad… this one is for you.

Today, for my last tour of Modernism Week, it was my pleasure to tour the Raymond Loewy House, designed by Albert Frey in 1946 for the industrial designer Ray Loewy. Although Loewy designed everything from locomotives to corporate logos over his long career, he is perhaps best remembered for his iconic designs for Studebaker: the early 50s Starliner and the early 60s Avanti. Today’s tour was graced by the presence of two of these cars, a 1954 Regal Commander Starliner and a 1963 Avanti.

So Dad, here is my question. I know that you had a “yellow and green” Studebaker. The car I saw today was “Ontario Blue over Safford Cream.” The creamy yellow looked right but the “blue” did not look like the “green” that I think I remember. So is this a different two-tone combination from your car? (I know you won’t comment here, so we’ll have to discuss this on the phone sometime…)

Here is a closer shot of the roof, and it does look very blue here under the blue sky. I love the reflection of the palm tree in this photo.

There was a lrage crowd around the Avanti, so I didn’t try to photograph it, but I did catch a shot of this very appropriate license plate:

But enough about cars, let’s move on to the house!

I was excited to see this house for several reasons. It is another Albert Frey design… and I think I have a bit of a crush on Albert Frey right now. It’s in largely orginal condition, although components have been refurbished over the years. The current owner has lived there 27 years, and although he never described the connection, I have a feeling he may have obtained (inherited?) it directly from Ray Loewy. But the most compelling attraction for me was the fact that there is an iconic Julius Shulman photo of the pool at this house. I have a print of it hanging on my dining room wall here in my condo. It was one of the images that finally helped Kurt sell me on the idea of being here. I wasn’t able to duplicate the exact angle, nor did the morning light resemble the afternoon light captured in Shulman’s photo, but this almost captures the essence. Notice how the living room “wall” slides over the pool:

Here I am standing several feet out from the house, looking across the pool toward the bedroom wing. I love the shadows on the water:

One more shot of the pool now looking back toward the living room. Do you get the feeling that I really love this pool? You’re right.

The dining room was an unexpected contrast to the usual straight, horizontal lines of modern architecture — it is round! And bathed in glorious sunlight.

Here is a closeup of those fabulous windows:

Did I mention that I really love the shadows at this house?

Or the way the palm trees interact with the portico (without needing to “imitate” anything but simply be what they are)?

Overall, the house is a simple, modest, graceful design that sits lightly in its boulder-strewn hillside setting:

I like these small, jewel-like, human-scaled houses much better than the super-sized spectacles. The Ray Loewy House was the perfect “dessert course” of Modernism Week for me — it left me feeling completely satisfied.

Posted on February 24, 2012, in Architecture, Place and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Was there a reason for the frosted glass in the dining room that you could see or ws it just a design element?

  2. Really nice house! I love the curved windows. And yes, the pool, too! Your term, human-scaled houses, is such a good one! I can actually picture myself living in one, where the overly grand don’t suit me. I’ve been thinking of getting to the library and seeing what I can learn about some of these architects. I am completely uneducated in this area, but I so admire, and would enjoy a little self-study. And by the way, the car is very cool!! Debra

    • Debra,
      From what I have gathered, you live in the midst of a whole bunch of world class modern architecture, some of which I hope to locate and visit in the next few weeks before I head back north. I need to do a little research of my own!

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