Transitions: Dogtrots, Duchamp, & Julius Shulman

Beyond the Breezeway

Having just attended my younger daughter’s graduation from college, transitions and transitional spaces are on my mind (if you follow this blog you will not be surprised…). The breezeway entry to a romantic compound by the architecture firm of Peter Brachvogel and Stella Carosso, below,

incorporating the tower studio that is our Plan 479-6, celebrates arrival and the view. Here’s another view as photographed:

The tower is a kind of exclamation point but the breezeway is the welcome; an in-between space that adds breathing room with multiple functions: for greeting, sitting, sheltering.

Such transition points are where first impressions are made — remember the famous opening sequence of The Philadelphia Story

(still courtesy when Cary Grant pushes Katherine Hepburn backward through the front door after she breaks and then throws a golf club after him. (Or maybe this is a last impression leading to a new beginning). Transition points are where many great conversations seem to happen — in our house it’s by the front door or on the stoop just before guests leave a party. The great urban sociologist William H. Whyte, author of the influential The Organization Man (University of Pennsylvania, Paper, 2002) and City: Rediscovering the Center (University of Pennsylvania, Paper, 2009), recorded versions of this phenomenon on busy New York street corners where he found that intense conversations often occurred just before people parted ways.

I am a fan of the early 20th century conceptual artist Marcel Duchamp, whose work challenged conventional ways of seeing; for example his “Door, 11 Rue Larry” is two door frames set at right angles

(photo courtesy, the online Marcel Duchamp Journal) with one door between them so that when the door closes in one frame it opens  in the other. A clever way to illustrate contradiction and transition at the same time — not to mention graduation!

Inside-Out and Outside-In

We have a new illustration of an especially vivid transitional space: this photograph by famous LA photographer Julius Shulman, of Case Study House #3 (our historic Plan 529-1 by Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons). It captures the very essence of the dogtrot design. It shows the garden room (the dogtrot) between the living and sleeping wings as a hallway that’s also a destination in its own right.

[Copyright J. Paul Getty Trust. Used with Permission. Julius Shulman Photography Archive, Research Library at the Getty Research Institute (2004.R.10)]

Is it inside or outside? The ambiguity is alluring: an indoor room with outdoor features. The far wall opens completely to the terrace and the garden. Sunlight pools around the plant-topped table beside two elegant outdoor chaises and an indoor standing lamp. In the background is a fireplace and an indoor Aaltoesque sofa below a wall-hung staghorn fern. Cocoa matting partially covers the tile floor. It’s emblematic of how to live in a mild climate: call it a lanai, living porch, or furnished breezeway. To my eye it’s a classic image and still looks contemporary today.

One of our latest designs from Braxton Werner & Paul Field, the rustic-modern Plan 491-10, adapts this dogtrot idea to a long narrow vacation house.


See how the Breezeway functions both as entry and outdoor living room. It’s a simple strong design that embodies restorative escape.

What’s Selling Now

I’m delighted to report that several of our most innovative plans have sold recently, including this appealing getaway

Plan 443-6 with its ample double decker porches; and Sarah Susanka’s Home By Design Original Plan 454-7

with its encompassing screen porch. The Tower Studio mentioned above has also sold. These houses celebrate the arrival of summer. Onward and upward!

One response to “Transitions: Dogtrots, Duchamp, & Julius Shulman

  1. I have always loved the dogtrot. The image in mind, and consistent with the “transitions” theme is the house from Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn’s “The Housesitter.”

    There is a picture of it on “Hooked on Houses”

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