A Plan for All Reasons
I’m delighted to welcome designer Steven Murphy to our Exclusive Studio. Steven’s work is inspired by some of Southern California’s most famous modern architects, including A. Quincy Jones and Cliff May. His Solatrium Garden
House Plan 544-1 is a contemporary steel-framed ranch house that celebrates indoor-outdoor living. The view above shows how the main house and adjacent guestroom/garage, open to the private pool terrace. The uncluttered shallow
gable is a signature of mid-century modern design and became increasingly abstracted in the work of May, Jones and other architects of the era. For example, here’s an image of Cliff May’s own house in Brentwood from 1953
the fourth house for his family), which was recently restored and updated with finesse by Marmol Radziner Architects. The surprise is the large skylight that
runs along part of the roof ridge to bring light deep into the interior (these two photographs by Joe Fletcher, courtesy Marmol Radziner). In Murphy’s plan the
skylight is narrower but runs almost the length of the roof to brighten every major room. The Murphy design also recalls the dramatic gable-fronted tract houses that A. Quincy Jones and his design partner Frederick Emmons
designed for developer Joseph Eichler in the Balboa Highlands section of Granada Hills, from around 1964, as shown here, with openings in parts of the gable to bring in light and air (photograph courtesy LA Curbed).
Steven Murphy’s floor plan is essentially an H under a wide roof: you enter at the
areas to the right in bedrooms and study. Window walls and sliding doors open each end to private patios. Thanks to Steven Murphy, our collection of Mid-Century Modern, Courtyard-Oriented, and Cliff May-and-Eichler-Inspired ranch houses plans is expanding.
Speaking of A. Quincy Jones: one of his most sumptuous estates, Sunnylands, built for publishing magnate Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore in Palm
Springs in the mid 1960s, has just opened for public tours after an extensive restoration. Appearing to float beside its reflecting lake, it resembles a mirage of modernism (the hallucinatory pink of roof and foundation was meant to capture the color of a desert sunset, as requested by Mrs. Annenberg). It was here that the Annenbergs entertained presidents and British royals, not to mention Hollywood royalty. The Annenberg Foundation has also added the extremely elegant and contexturally deft Sunnylands Center (for approved retreats) by architect Frederick Fisher and Partners.