Case Study House No. 20 – Photographed by Julius Shulman – Home of Saul Bass

photo-julius-shulman-1958-case-study-house-no-20-altadena-ca-1958-c2a0architect-buff-straub-and-hensmanI went to see this house in Altadena when it hit the market in the 1990s. Innovative materials in the fifties hadn’t stood the test of time, but the bones of the house, designed by Buff, Straub, and Hensman, were incredibly beautiful. The house was built for the graphic designer, Saul Bass of the amazing movie title sequences…


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  1. George Kaplan
    June 10, 2013

    Yet another fascinating house and beautiful picture. I’m particularly taken by the framing, the glimmering blueness of the pool in the foreground, that great tree thrusting its way heavenward in the background, and the lowness of the home itself. It all looks perfectly fitted. In fact the tree appears almost *part of the house*.
    Tangent time: the great Saul Bass. I’m a huge fan of the art of the title sequence. Who can forget the fragmentary titles of Psycho, the swirling circles of Vertigo, the memorableness of Anatomy of a Murder etc, and those are just a few of Bass’s. It’s a pity that many sequences are either shoved to the ends of movies now or are flatly uninspired or plasticky CG messes! Oops, ranting… πŸ˜‰

    • June 10, 2013

      I was so taken with house lust when I saw this property, but, it was in an area (that’s probably better now) that was kind of edgy, and the price reflected much more the architectural wonder, than the neighborhood…

      I think when Mr. Bass lived there it was all fresh air and mountain views, just a short commute to the big city.

  2. George Kaplan
    June 10, 2013

    “all fresh air and mountain views…” *sigh* Gorgeous. How tempus does fugit…

  3. Heather in Arles
    June 10, 2013

    Is it fair to say that Frank Lloyd Wright was the first to do the “build the house around the tree” concept–or did that arrive in Europe first…? Thoughts?
    And another question: Vickie when you saw the house, what were the colorways? I am particularly curious if the brick in the circular fireplace was left blonde or painted…?

    • June 10, 2013

      If it did arrive in Europe first Mr. Wright would have taken credit for it anyway… an ego as tall as the Empire State Building.

      I think the brick was painted, but I have a habit of remembering things the way I think they should be πŸ˜‰

  4. September 5, 2014

    I don’t feel as much lust for the house as I do the pool… I can feel the exact temperature of that water… delicious!

    • September 6, 2014

      We’re having a little heat wave right now, and you are right about the pool πŸ™‚ .

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