Beautiful Trade Center

Though the Twin Towers will forever be ingrained in American culture, their architect and many of the themes he intended for the World Trade Centers’ design have been lost in the annals of history.

Japanese architect Minoru Yamasaki was a modernist who designed for human interaction. His designs might have been minimal, pared down, and somewhat cold, but life could fill them up. He preferred people to interior design too. As he once said: “If you have white walls, human beings look better in a room than if you have red walls.” Yamasaki, who designed the original World Trade Centers in 1973, is the subject of a new book called Sandfuture, out on September 14. The book traces his unconventional path in architecture, from his early life, born to Japanese immigrants in 1912, to his path in architecture, moving to New York City during the Great Depression.

Yamasaki was part of the New Formalism movement, which saw its rise in the 1950s, aiming for a monumental presence in modernist towers, with delicate details and a rich use of materials like marble and granite. 

In 1955, he started his own firm, Yamasaki & Associates, which created 43 residential and commercial towers across the globe, from Brazil to Azerbaijan. Though his design accomplishments are awe-inspiring, he remains in the margins of design history.

Yamasaki is best known for designing the original World Trade Center towers, which were destroyed on 11 September 2001 in a terrorist attack. At 1,368 and 1,362 feet (417 and 415 meters) tall, the towers were the world’s tallest buildings when they opened in 1973.

However, despite their international significance, Yamasaki’s career sits in “the margins of architectural history”.

Yamasaki was born in 1912 and raised in Seattle, Washington to Japanese immigrant parents, and anti-Japanese prejudice defined much of his youth. He enrolled on the University of Washington’s architecture program in 1929 and started his own firm 20 years later.He was commissioned for The World Trade Center in 1962 by American banker David Rockefeller and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, after being selected from a shortlist including architects IM PeiPhilip Johnson, Welton Becket and Walter Gropius.

The complex was built with the aim of revitalizing Lower Manhattan, and it drew on the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibit called the World Trade Center, which was dedicated to the concept of achieving world peace through trade. We are accustomed now to seeing the World Trade Center as a symbol of American capitalism and American unilateralism, but that’s not really what it meant when it was built.

The project was conceived around an idea of global trade as a force for good that seems impossibly naïve now.

Project designed as “a Mecca” – Yamasaki’s final design for the center – a pair of towers with narrow windows, decorative pointed arches at their base and a large surrounding plaza – was revealed in 1964. His aim was to embody the New York World’s Fair exhibit concept by creating a “beacon of democracy” and, in the architect’s own words, “a Mecca”.

Minoru Yamasaki & Associates, Rainier Bank Tower (Seattle, 1972–1977). 

Yamasaki genuinely believed that this project could be both a nexus of international commerce and a beacon of democracy and goodwill between nations. However, despite his ambitions, “accepting the job was not an easy decision” for Yamasaki. It was the commission of a lifetime, and he knew that he could not turn it down, but he also understood that it was too big a job for his office.

Twin Towers branded “Disneyland fairytale blockbuster” – Upon its conception, the World Trade Center was widely lauded but as the project progressed “critical reception shifted dramatically”. Yamasaki worked in “constant conflict” with the port authority as it cut key elements of the design to save costs and pushed the scheme to increase its height and office space. This turn of events is encapsulated by the shift in opinion of the late architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable over the course of the project.

Ada Louise Huxtable was a longtime advocate of Yamasaki’s work, but she was also a very sharp and conscientious critic, and the evolution of her opinion is a good indication of the arc of the critical reception of the project.

It is hard to imagine another pair of buildings which in their lifespan, from conception to construction to spectacular violent destruction, have exerted a greater influence on the course of American architecture. It is difficult to imagine any story that has shaped the culture and politics of architecture in the last eighty years more than the thousands of images of the towers of the World Trade Center collapsing under their own weight.

Yamasaki “remains largely unknown” – partly blames Yamasaki’s untraditional approach to modernism and use of ornament for his obscurity in the architecture industry. However, his background also had a large part to play due to the “diversity problem” in the architecture sector. Art, cinema, literature have all had major reckonings with their respective lack of diversity in recent years, but less attention has been paid to the fact that most of the buildings we work in, live in, go to school in have been designed by one very homogeneous group of people.

Read more about Justin Beal and SANDFUTURE here

Beautiful Residential Interiors

Atelier Barda, an architectural firm renowned for its constructive thinking in approaching every design, introduces Residence Alma, a full renovation project of a residential triplex in Montreal’s Little Italy district. The program focused on redeveloping an existing commercial ground floor space, as well as consolidating two upper floor apartments in order to design a single-family residence. Beautifully designed and executed, the result is quiet yet impactful.  

In approaching the mixed-use, early 20th century building, Atelier Barda focused on three archetype design principles: the loggia, the passageway, and the colonnade. The main idea was to preserve the existing façade and to use the envelope to deflect from what is happening inside while respecting the past making slight additions to delineate old from new, including rounded brick columns that subtly contrast with the angular architecture of the original building.

In respecting the external façade of the building, Atelier Barda made only subtle changes to existing elements in order to transition the building from the past to the present. In contrast, the interior of the existing building was completely gutted and redesigned from scratch. A portion of the commercial space was preserved, yet halved in size, and cuts were made to the side of the existing façade in order to create new openings for entry to the residential space, and for a new garage. The original entrance to the upper-level apartments was then relocated from the main commercial boulevard to the residential side street, providing the client with more discreet access to the residence. At the rear of the building, two external balconies were enclosed by making a slight extension of the brick façade, using brick patterns that match the original construction.

To maximize its vision, while adhering to strict building codes and regulations, Atelier Barda embarked on an interior design plan that compressed previous ceiling heights, established new floor plates, and created a fourth level in the form of a rooftop mezzanine. On the second level of the building, the firm created a visitor’s suite comprised of three bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, and two bathrooms. The third level, which serves as the principal living quarters of the client, was hollowed out to create an open-air courtyard that is enclosed in glass internally and divides the living room area from the master bedroom. Extending vertically, the stunning courtyard is exposed to nature’s elements from above and features lush vegetation, seating areas, and a Japanese soaking tub. The courtyard really articulates the space, while creating a very private outdoor area for the client. It also allowed us to bring abundant light into the core of the building.

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Beautiful Architectural Illustration

In the episode of “Behind the Scenes”, where the work of visionary artists is showcased and asked about their experiences beyond what is seen by the public, is Nicolás Castagnola: an illustrator, animator, and architect born in Buenos Aires and based in Berlin. Through his illustrations and animations, he brings different meanings to architecture by opening an imaginative field about the infinite possibilities that the built environment can provide.

Victor Delaqua (VD):  How would you define your style?

Nicolás Castagnola (NC): Clear lines, slow pace, good times.

VD: What is your favorite building?

NC: The buildings and public spaces where I spent time and developed myself among others. You can actually miss them after some time not being there. 

VD: What are the key elements for a great architectural illustration?

NC: I personally appreciate when Illustrations create atmospheres that give Architecture a reason to be there and host them.

VD: Who or what influenced you?

NC: Georges Remi, Edgar Jacobs, Gordon Cullen, Kazuhiko Kato. Comics like Blake & Mortimer, TinTin; and animated series like Lupin or the Pink Panther.

VD: Do you think being an architect helps you to illustrate better?

NC: It is great when it comes to technical and methodological skills. But I also believe in deconstructing some of these tools, so as not to narrow our practice to an only architects´ audience.

VD: How would you describe the work process with architects?

NC: I have worked with Architects for several years, so communication is easy and clear. We share a common language, and some traumas too.

VD: How do you manage through your animations to translate sensations? How do you achieve this expression?

NC: I like telling small stories in a language that everyone can relate to.

Someone looks out the window, a dog walks by, there are some noises in the background.

VD: What would architecture be without human presence?

NC: Animation enhances the importance of this presence: when humans are in motion, architecture loses protagonist but gains meaning. 

By Victor Delaqua
Check more of Nicolás Castagnola’s work at CUCU Studio and @nicolascastagnola.

Beautiful New York Little Island

Designed by Heatherwick Studio, together with landscape architecture firm MNLA, the Little Island project is New York’s newest major public space, showcasing a richly-planted piece of topography above the Hudson River. The design featuring a public park and performance venues reinvents the pier typology into an undulating artificial landscape. After surpassing many hurdles, the eight years in the making project is now open to the public, and the bold design is set to become an icon in New York.

The project reimagines the pier as an experience and designs a structure that would foster a vibrant art, education and community space, creating a distinct performance venue. The offshore structure connected to the shoreline through two doc-like pathways features three outdoor performance spaces: an acoustically-optimized 700-seat amphitheater, a 200-seat spoken word stage, and a flexible venue with a capacity for 3,500 at the center. The project creates a diverse landscape with numerous pathways, viewing platforms and destinations, fostering numerous activities.

The structural columns are a key identity element of the design, which comprises some 132 tulip-like concrete piles that double as planters. Describing the structure, Thomas Heatherwick says, “we were inspired by these piles and the civil engineering required to build structures that can withstand extreme river conditions. Could we make these the heroes of our project, rather than hiding them? The vision that’s been built is based on taking these piles and turning their tops into dramatic planters that fuse together to make a richly-planted undulating landscape.” The project’s engineering consultant Arup used parametric modelling and advanced prefabrication techniques to deliver the complex precast geometry of the “pots”, which were fabricated locally and delivered on-site.

The architecture studio worked with New York-based landscape architecture studio MNLA to design the park, which is home to nearly 400 species of trees, shrubs, grasses and perennials. The landscape creates opportunities for different views and creates numerous paths within the park while also fostering biodiversity.

Related Article

Heatherwick’s Little Island is Taking Shape off New York’s Shoreline
Photos by Timothy Schenck

Beautiful Funky Gas Stations

  1. This is the perfect time for a corss-country roadtrip. To fuel your wanderlust for a driving escape, here are a few funky gas stations you won’t want to miss along the way starting in my home town.

Hat and Boots started out as a gas station in Seattle, WA. The gas station is no longer but the Hat and Boots lives on at Oxbow Park in the Georgetown neighborhood in Seattle. Touted as the largest cowboy hat and boots in America, these pieces of massive rancher apparel made their debut in the 1950s in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood as part of a western-themed gas station called Hat ‘n’ Boots. The 44-foot-wide hat was designed to hold the gas station’s office while the 22-foot-tall boots served as the restrooms.

However, in the mid 1960s, Interstate 5 was built through the city and spurred traffic away from the station. By the ‘80s, the trail looked bleak. When the gas station finally closed in 1988, Hat ‘n’ Boots sank into a period of decay and vandalism. After skateboarders cracked the brim of the hat, it appeared that Hat ‘n’ Boots would finally be put out to pasture.

Georgetown residents, however, were unwilling to let the unique duds ride into the sunset without a fight. The iconic attraction was moved to Georgetown’s Oxbow Park in 2003. The boots were restored in 2005; the hat finally completed in 2010. Plans are currently in the works to turn the hat into an interpretive exhibit brimming with the history of Hat ‘n’ Boots and its importance to the local area.

2. The service station in Ukiah, California, is made from the trunks of giant redwoods. The Redwood Tree Service Station was made from a 1,500 year old tree selected from the coastal redwood forests west of Ukiah. The tree was 250 feet high and 81 feet in circumference at the base when it was chopped down in 1936. It was painstakingly quartered, transported, reassembled, and cabled back together. A roof and canopy were added, then covered with redwood shakes. Two smaller log sections behind the main log became restrooms.

Nicknamed “The Stump” by locals, novel building has always been a popular Redwood Highway tourist stop and shutterbug magnet (that’s the whole point of lugging a massive tree out of the forest to the town).  When Richfield merged with another company in 1960 the Redwood Tree became the distributor for Rocket Gasoline: 100-Octane Ethyl! Times and demand changed again, and Jess Rawles bought out Bob Ford in 1962, and in 1972 the Redwood Tree began distributorship of Exxon products.

3. This gas station in Spring Hill, Florida, looks mightily prehistoric. This building will certainly get your attention. Harold’s Auto dinosaur was originally a Sinclair gas station in 1964, inspired by the Sinclair Oil mascot prominently featured in ads and on signs since 1930. Located at 5299 Commercial Way in Spring Hill near Weeki Wachee Springs, it shares a short stretch of Rt. 19 in Spring Hill, Florida with the Pink Dinosaur a few miles South. Dino, an “Apatosaurus”, stands 47 feet tall and is 110 feet long.

4. This gas station on Route 99 in Milwaukie, Oregon, photographed in 1980, was topped with a B-17G bomber named Lacey Lady, which is now being restored by the B-17 Alliance Foundation in Salem, Oregon. In 1947, Art Lacey purchased a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber plane that had been decommissioned when World War II ended. He flew it from Oklahoma to Oregon and then had it mounted on a building at his gas station. The 102-foot wingspan of the plane served as the canopy over the gas pumps.

5. This gas station in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, photographed in 1977, was inspired by the designs of pagodas. The Wadhams Oil Company gas stations were designed by Alexander Eschweiler. These small, red pagoda roofed stations were built in the Midwest between 1917 and 1930. At one time, there were more than 100 of them but there are only a handful of these buildings left.

One of the last pagoda-style Wadhams Oil and Grease Co. gas stations was moved from its original location at Federal Mfg. Co., 201 W. Walker St., which provided its fourth wall. The 60,000-pound pagoda, built in the 1930s, was jacked up onto a trailer for the move to its new home at 430 S. 2nd St., next to the Reed Street Station tavern.

Beautiful LA Home

Designed by Melbourne-based Conrad Architects, this new family home in Los Angeles typifies the practice’s approach to balancing a contemporary and minimal aesthetic with traditional influences. Exhibiting a sense of calm and retreat achieved through the timeless aesthetic and controlled design, the careful selection of materials is based upon their environmental and wellness qualities. This includes a preference for natural materials that showcase integrity and resilience, with colours reflective of natural timbers, stones, linens, plasters, renders and sands. The overall result is a rich and warm interior that portrays a restrained luxury.

Beautiful Dogs

For French photographer Audrey Bellot, animals have always had a place in her heart. She’s loved dogs ever since she can remember, and she’s even turned her passion for pups into her career. She’s an expert in dog photography, and focuses on showcasing the beauty of the beloved pets by photographing them in stunning landscapes.

Bellot works all over the world, capturing all sorts of dogs in natural settings. Her ever-growing portfolio includes a portrait of Ohana, a Golden Retriever who posed in a field of lavender. There’s also a husky who sits in a moss-covered woodland and a Samoyed who barks into a snowy landscape. For Bellot, it’s important that her photos capture the unique personality of each dog and convey the authentic expressions of dogs in extraordinary natural settings.

As well as capturing the character of her fluffy subjects, Bellot hopes her images will evoke a sense of magic, and remind people how amazing dogs can be choosing combinations of places and dogs that perfectly match both the colors and the atmosphere.

Audrey Bellot: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Audrey Bellot.

Beautiful Row Houses

Architect Michael Hsu designed a modern take on row house living. Clean, modern lines with touches of wood define the newest set of row homes. Hsu’s office focuses on creating livable, neighborhood-oriented urban spaces and has a reputation for their clean, contemporary design.

Once home to Austin’s Robert Mueller Municipal Airport, the redevelopment known as Mueller is a 700-acre mixed-use urban community nearly 15,000 Austin residents call home. With more than 6,200 total residences, the Tilley Row Homes invigorate the street and the quality of the neighborhood with covered porches wrapped in wood unique to each unit. Softened by vegetation, the porches engage passing neighbors while providing privacy and reprieve for the residents within. Each unit’s clean-gabled form is punctuated by prominent west-facing windows with perforated steel surrounds and shutters. In addition to providing visual interest and contrast to the wood, these shutters protect bedrooms from the harsh western sun.

Perforated screens intercept brick walls at exterior intervals and effectively blur the boundary between inside and out. Visible from the front door, a courtyard separates the main house from the garage and apartment above, thus creating a private garden and natural light to penetrate throughout. Each two-story unit provides an open, ground floor living space with large sliding glass doors that allow the lushly planted courtyard to become an extension of the living area.

Two bedrooms and a master suite await upstairs where obscured glazing allows natural light to fill the spaces. Ample windows in the master suite offer views down into the courtyard, while the southernmost unit captures sweeping views of the adjacent pond and golf course. Floor to ceiling windows in the great room and large corner windows in the master bedroom frame the vista of native grasses, birds, and the broad blue Texas sky.

Beautiful Architecture

11 of the world’s most striking new buildings this year
Architecture has always been an integral part of what gives a destination its unique charm and identity. From ultra-modern museums to preserved historical buildings, there is a wealth of rich and diverse experiences centred around the world of architecture and design. Lonely Planet has rounded up a selection of some of the most unique architecture design in teh world.

Jiunvfeng Study on Mount Tai in China
This curved, white pavilion and visitor center perches above Dongximen Village in Shangdong, China, with stunning views of Mount Tai, a sacred place of worship for thousands of years. A coffee shop with tables sits at one end while a bookcase-lined study is at the other. The incredible curved glass wall creates a gigantic viewing platform for guests lucky enough to visit the site. 

Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear, Spain
The renovation and extension of the headquarters of the Helga de Alvear foundation in Cáceres, Spain was planned by Spanish practice Tuñón Arquitectos. The charming building now has a temporary exhibition hall, library and workshop spaces housed in the Casa Grande where visitors can amble about at their leisure and discover the bright and airy areas.  

Boat Rooms on the Fuchun River in China
Visitors to the these charming timber-framed boat lodges in Zhejiang province can sit out on the spacious decks and watch the lights play on the water. The design takes inspiration from local traditions, and the five boat rooms are nestled into a canopy of trees. Large windows in the roofs let light into the hotel rooms and guests can even spot birds flying overhead. 

The Standard in England
This colorful hotel has been built inside the former Camden Town Hall Annexe of King’s Cross, and has 266 rooms, three restaurants, a bar, and even a recording studio. The roof has views across the surrounding area, while some suites have their own terraces complete with outdoor baths. One of the most eye-catching features from the outside is the bright red elevator that makes its way up the side of the brutalist building.

Tanzhaus Zürich in Switzerland
Tanzhaus Zürich has been designed as a new public space that invigorates the area along the river Limmat. Under the label Tanzhaus young, the institution hosts dance performances for young audiences and hosts courses for children and young adults. The building has unique triangular windows and modern spaces inside that are used for a number of different activities that serve the community.

Cycling Through Trees in Belgium
This 700-meter-long cycle path in Bosland takes visitors in a ring road around a gigantic forest, with a path that is also open and accessible to walkers and joggers. The project is an eye-catching and exciting way to promote outdoor activities and immerse visitors in nature.

Buhais Geology Museum in United Arab Emirates
The Buhais Geology Park Interpretive Center has been built on a former seabed in the desert 30-miles south-east of Sharjah, with buildings that resemble fossilized sea urchins. The pods have exhibition spaces, theatres, a café with impressive views of the mountains. As well as taking in the stunning architecture, visitors can see fossils from over 65 million years ago.

Microlibrary Warak Kayu in Indonesia
As well as being beautiful on the outside, this small library and community centre in Semarang, Indonesia has a unique hammock style floor made out of netting and a large communal swing. Microlibrary Warak Kayu is a public reading room that has space for events and workshops. The building was created with fun in mind, and visitors can relax on the netted floor with a book.

Mountain House in Mist in China
Designed as a revival project for the rural village of Jinhua, Mountain House in Mist is built on stilts and has open spaces for reading, study as well as areas for villagers to relax and drink tea. The creators hope that the building will attract more travelers and tourists as well as young people in the area. The frosted sides of the building let light in during the day and illuminate the surrounding area at dusk.

Saint Hotel in Greece
A cluster of former homes and barns in the village of Odi, Santorini have been transformed into this sleek, minimalist hotel. Rooms in the Saint Hotel open up to private terraces and pools, while the property slopes down to a cliff edge. The crisp white walls look clean against the blue sky, and guests can even get some stunning views of the ocean.

Museum and Cultural Forum South Westphalia in Germany
Designed by Bez + Kock Architekten, this museum and cultural center has a new bridge structure with a passage that leads to an impressive full-height panoramic window that grants views of the surrounding city. A footpath and walkway runs on the hill below the bridge to a terrace on the museum’s roof. 

Beautiful Mid-Century Eichler Homes

Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.

Developer Joseph Eichler consulted with members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, Federal Housing Administration, Housing and Home Finance Agency, and Housing and Urban Development about how to craft and promote anti-discrimination laws. This 1962 home designed by A. Quincy Jones & Frederick Emmons is in the Fairhaven tract in Orange, California. 

Joseph Eichler not only defined the middle-class home of the mid-century period, but also worked to dismantle racist housing policies.

Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, mid-century homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known. 

This four-bedroom, 1960 home was designed by Anshen & Allen in Orange, California’s Fairmeadows tract. The original brochure advertised “a separate parlor and dining room that gives complete privacy to the adult area of the home” and “a huge pantry that provides abundant storage space for the conveniently planned kitchen.” It also highlighted the enormous atrium and rear patio for indoor/outdoor living. 

Eichler was not unfamiliar with housing discrimination; at the time, there were developers of suburban communities who refused to sell homes to the Jewish middle class. He believed, however, that if a buyer was qualified, there was no good reason not to sell them a home. “I really do think Joe may have been motivated by discrimination against Jews back in New York,” says Dave Weinstein, features editor at CA-Modern Magazine and the Eichler Network—and overall Eichler expert. “It was common not just in housing, but in society in general.” 

Eichler’s son Ned, who worked alongside his father at Eichler Homes, was recorded as saying that the company began selling to Asian Americans as early as 1950 or ’51. The exact date is unclear as the Eichlers never kept statistics on the “racial characteristics of their clients.” However, in the early 1950s, selling to a Black family was a more controversial issue and could be potentially risky for a developer. 

In 1958, Eichler resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a nondiscrimination policy. This 1964 home in the Fairhills tract in Orange, California, was designed by Jones & Emmons with Claude Oakland. 

According to Ocean Howell, associate professor of history at the University of Oregon who wrote the paper The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949-1974Eichler’s personal turning point was when he sold a home to Franklin “Frank” Williams. Williams was the lead counsel of the West Coast chapter of the NAACP, a personal acquaintance of Eichler—and also his first Black buyer. “Before that experience, Eichler held egalitarian ideals but was afraid of integrating a tract,” says Howell. “After this moment he began to put those ideals into practice. He began to risk his own position in the pursuit of those ideals.”    

Eichler had been concerned about the effect this would have on his business, including financing from the Federal Housing Administration and Veterans Affairs. Selling a home to Williams invigorated the Eichlers and propelled them into greater activism in many different arenas. In addition to organizing California’s convention on housing issues and helping to write the state’s fair housing law, the Eichlers consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and HUD, volunteering to be used as case studies in promotional materials. They also testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. 

Collectively, all of these activities demonstrate that they were doing whatever they possibly could to fight discrimination in housing, and to demonstrate by example that integration would not bring the private housing market crashing down.

A house in Greenmeadow, an Eichler development in Palo Alto. In 1954, Eichler Homes sold a home in the Greenmeadows tract to a Black family, and a neighbor complained. The company bought the neighbor’s home back and promptly resold it. 

Darren Bradley is an architectural photographer and the man behind the popular Instagram account @modarchitecture. He has researched the developer and photographed numerous Eichler homes over the years and recently posted about the following event: In 1955, when the developer sold a home to a Black family in San Rafael’s Terra Linda development, some of the neighbors protested. Eichler responded angrily to their reaction and “went door-to-door personally to confront them and even offered to buy back their homes.” However, no one took Eichler up on his offer, and after the new family moved in, no one sold their homes. “Initially, it wasn’t really a concerted effort or a conscious thing; he just didn’t believe that there should be any sort of restrictions,” says Bradley. “He just became more militant about it as time went on.”

Eichler Homes’ policy to sell to any qualified buyer was an “open secret” in the industry. This Claude Oakland–designed, 1962 model in Orange advertised that “The parents enjoy complete privacy in the master bedroom suite and direct access to the rear patio.” 

Later, Eichler Homes codified its policy to sell to any qualified homebuyer regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. By 1964, the company had sold 30 to 40 houses to Black buyers, according to accounts from Eichler’s son Ned. This was an “open secret” in the industry; salespeople didn’t advertise the fact, but they didn’t hide it, either. 

“I think they were happy to be activists in the policy arena, but they wanted to draw a sharp line between those activities and their development business,” says Howell. It was a delicate balance they were trying to strike. They believed passionately in promoting civil rights, but saw that the best way to do that was to speak in different registers for different audiences. They could speak about justice to the Commission on Civil Rights, but in [the] very conservative business environment [of upper-middle-class, single-family housing], the best way to promote an egalitarian outcome was to quietly demonstrate that integrated housing worked just fine as a business.

An updated kitchen in a Silicon Valley home renovated by Klopf Architecture. The wood paneling and beamed tongue-and-groove ceilings are classic Eichler design elements. 
An indoor/outdoor view of an updated Eichler in Silicon Valley that was renovated by Klopf Architecture.

So why is it that for the most part, Eichler’s legacy of integration isn’t better known? Eichler homes are lauded for their indoor/outdoor atrium, expansive glazing, warm wood paneling, tongue-and-groove ceilings—an aesthetic that he popularized and brought to mid-century, suburban, middle-class housing. “Most books on Eichler don’t even really talk about it, which I always thought was shocking,” says Bradley. They always focus on the build and the designs, and they sort of touch on the history, but they don’t talk about what a pioneer he was.

The atrium of a twin gable, 1962 Eichler in Sunnyvale, California, designed by A. Quincy Jones and recently updated by architect Ryan Leidner.

Weinstein points out, however, that accounts of Eichler’s progressive policies don’t slip past many diehard Eichler fans: “Among people who live in Eichlers, Joe’s commitment to non-discrimination and his liberal views are very well known. You’d be surprised how often people told me they bought the homes because of that.” 

Related Reading:

The Merchant Crusaders: Eichler Homes and Fair Housing, 1949–1974 by Ocean Howell

When Joe Eichler Spoke Out About Race by Dave Weinstein

Building An Eichler Bookshelf: Race & Housing by Dave Weinstein

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