Saturday, August 16, 2014

Edward H. Fickett 1959 Home in The Colony Gets New Lease on Life

3043 Nichols Canyon Rd, 90046 - Architect, Edward H. Fickett, F.A.I.A., 1959 - $1,685,000
At the top of Nichols Canyon, you are enchanted by an enclave of custom tract homes built in the late 50s by architect, Edward H. Fickett, F.A.I.A.  The area is know as "The Colony" and features beautiful designs by the architect.  This week, 3043 Nichols Canyon Road went on to market as a pocket listing until open for the public just a day ago through the MLS.  The post and beam home built in 1959 was purchased in 2009 through foreclosure by a couple who saw the potential through years of neglect and lack of upkeep.  The current owners, not only restored the original vision of the architect, but have brought soul back into this home.  I applaud the sellers for their efforts and success in bringing this Fickett design back to life.  I include remarks made about living in the home through a letter written to Joycie Fickett from prior residents, at the bottom of this article.  The mid-century modern pool home is being listed for a modest $1,685,000
With a low-slung gable roof line made up of tongue and groove covering the spacious interior of 2,265 square feet including 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, this modern home features Fickett trademark design while bringing the outdoors in through clerestory windows, walls of glass and sliding doors that lead to a lush landscape and a pool, high up in the hills.  He would also use partial walls to allow light to transfer throughout a home, as he did here. Through a private mezzanine, you are greeted by a turquoise-painted front door, which opens into a light-filled entry with skylight above.  Turquoise was one of Fickett's favorite colors and used for many architectural accents of his homes including front doors and trellises.  The original linoleum flooring has been lifted to expose the concrete slab flooring which is now stained and sealed.  You can see Fickett's use of his partial glass walls allowing light to pass while providing privacy with beaded glass panels.
Fickett teamed with builder Lee Lauger to create a handful of models for this modern tract of homes built in 1957 through 1959, now known as "The Colony".  The living room features a brick-faced fireplace with a window above the mantel.  Fickett's often used round chimney is also exemplified in this home.  The round chimney is very synonomous with his work and creations in the 1950s. 
As you can see here, the living room is large enough for two seating areas.  The deep eave of the roof helps interior solar gain while transmitting natural light through its walls of glass, clerestory windows and sliding doors.

The dining area is large with convenient access to the kitchen.  Views of the outdoor garden, planters and pool can be enjoyed while having a meal. 
The kitchen has been completely remodeled with today's modern conveniences and appliances.  The owners chose marble as the resource for the counter tops and also provide new cabinetry with plenty of storage.  They also opened up the wall between the dining area and the kitchen to provide a continuous flow of the floor plan.  There is also a breakfast area on the opposite side of the dining area.  The original frosted lighting orbs hang from the ceiling.

The sleeping quarters feature new carpeting, walls of glass and plenty of closet areas. Fickett always provided for storage and closet space, which many homeowners appreciated.
The bathrooms have all received an update.  The below master bath seems to feature new tile from Heath Ceramics, but don't quote me as I am not 100% sure.  I like how the owners decided to keep the wall heater intact providing a retro feeling as well as a practicality. 
The tasteful selections the owners made with choosing new finishes for the bathrooms are apparent: clean and simple.  Nothing is overdone with this renovation.  The owners opted to keep the intended simplicity of the original design.  Kudos!
Fickett would often times design homes with a "mother-in-law" suite or separate cabana, as he himself, at times, lived with his "mother-in-law".   3043 Nichols Canyon would also provide for a "mother-in-law" suite.
The home is sited on a 8,670 square foot flat lot and with no rear neighbors!  There are many garden areas for seating and dining.  The large pool is equipped with a spa while surrounded by lush greenery and the tranquility of nature.
Decks, side yards and a fire pit allow for a family to sprawl while enjoying the privacy and safety of this home.

As you know, I am close with Joycie Fickett, the widow of Edward H. Fickett.  She has shared a letter written by a prior occupant who had rented the home in the late 80s and through the 90s.  I'd like to quote a few sentences written in that letter describing the experience of living in this Fickett house:
"I will always remember the first night we spent there.  Lying in bed, looking through a wall of glass at the eucalyptus tree and the tropical plants in the garden, was like going to sleep in a forest.  The rest of the house was equally amazing.  It felt like we were living in a huge wooden tent, with windows everywhere open to the garden.  The walls were kept to a minimum to ensure basic privacy without destroying the feel of the house.  Clever little touches like the frosted glass 'light traps' in the bathrooms seemed to catch the sunlight and give plenty of illumination throughout the the day.  The kitchen was another treasure trove of little touches: beautiful frosted glass lights hung from the ceilings like suns, and a huge window in the dining area made every night feel like an outdoor picnic.  Unlike all the modernist houses we had visited, this one felt immediately like home."   --- Laura Buller, Resident 1988-1999
Below are photos of the home at the time of foreclosure and prior to the current owners renovation.  I always hate to see Fickett homes in distress. 
If you would like a private showing of this beautiful example of master architect Edward H. Fickett, F.A.I.A, please contact me to set up a convenient time to tour this home.  Also, if you currently own a home designed by Fickett, please contact me if thinking of selling your home.  I am the only Realtor® who is endorsed by Joycie Fickett and has access to Fickett's personal archives.  There is no one better to sell a Fickett home!

This home will be open to the public Sunday, August 17, 2014 from 2-5pm for an open house.  If in the area, be sure not to miss this one.  If interested in more of Fickett's work, be sure to search my blog for other articles written by using the "Search This Blog" button above.  There are many of his homes and work cataloged. 

Listing and photos courtesy of MLS and Stephen Parisi - DPP

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Domed SILVERTOP: John Lautner's "Reiner-Burchill Residence" Ready for Take-off

2138 Micheltorena St, Silver Lake 90039 - "The Reiner-Burchill Residence" (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, 1956-1976 - $7,500,000
The Reiner-Burchill Residence was originally commissioned in 1956 for Kenneth Reiner, who made his fortunes through his industrial designs including the spring-loaded Lady Ellen Klippies, a ladies hair clip and a self-locking lightweight aircraft nut. Many refer to the home as "Silvertop" for its expansive concrete domed ceiling over the living area, which seems to rest on walls of glass, as it peers down upon the Silver Lake Reservoir.  

Aerial View - "The Reiner-Burchill Residence" (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, 1956-1976
With a focus on technology and engineering, the two men were destined to collaborate. Reiner was inspired to build "Silvertop" with John Lautner, F.A.I.A. based on his experience living in R.M. Schindler's "Wilson House" located just a few doors away and right around the corner from Lautner's own personal residence.  The two set out to accomplish something, no one else had done before. This was to be a smart and thoughtful home design, including faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water; a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that was lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals; a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard; and controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs.  The Reiner-Burchill Residence is truly an example of modern genius.
Cantilevered Driveway - "The Reiner-Burchill Residence" (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, 1956-1976
Lautner built elements into the home specifically according to Reiner's specifications; in the event that the equipment didn't exist to meet those specifications, Reiner would often design and make the necessary piece for Lautner.  "They really clicked," architectural historian Alan Hess said of Lautner and his wealthy client. "They were both far-out thinkers" who believed in technology and invention to improve the world.  Some Reiner-designed elements in the home include lights that pivot into the ceiling, and electrically-controlled skylights.
The two men brought in master structural engineer, Eugene Birnbaum to execute the challenging build with a cantilevered driveway up to the residence and a massive concrete domed ceiling over walls of glass that are slotted into concrete.
The home was originally budgeted at $75,000, but rose close to $1,000,000 after many refinements of the design throughout its build. Sadly, Reiner never completed "Silvertop". Thus, never lived in the home.  Due to a lawsuit with then business partner, Reiner filed bankruptcy and lost the house.  The project then sat unfinished for several years, while Reiner moved to Long Beach without ever having the joy of living in his creation.  
Dr. Philip and Jacklyn Burchill bought the home in 1974. The Burchill's also worked closely with Lautner to complete the home. The Reiner-Burchill Residence was destined to be built and thanks to the collaboration of efforts from many involved with the project, it was finally realized in 1976, when the Burchill's became live-in stewards of the architectural phenomenom until now. Mrs. Burchill would like to spend more time with her grandchildren in northern California and has decided to sell the home she has maintained true pride of ownership and stewardship for 40 years. 
The Reiner-Burchill Residence is located at 2138 Micheltorena St in the Moreno Highlands area of Silver Lake and is being offered for $7,500,000.  With the construction of "Silvertop" we experience Lautner’s first major use of the monolithic dome, reinforced concrete which spans over a large area while using minimal resources, providing energy efficiency and yielding a longer life span.  Thus, creating a sculptural element to the design, as well as, an architectural component creating the Organic Modernist creation. 
The Reiner-Burchill Residence's infinity-edge swimming pool was one of the first of its kind.
The 3 bedroom and 4 bathroom design of the main house is made up of a series of interlocking circles, half-circles and ellipsis, creating geometric pattern for which Lautner was genius.  The infinity pool, a first of its kind, somewhat mimics the shape of the roof line.  With a massive, arched concrete roof over the living area, the spacious 4,721 of interior living space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, feels in proportion to the site, which it is built.  "Silvertop" rests upon 1.26 acres, comprised of six lots, on the crest of a hill and is reached by a cantilevered curving concrete driveway that wraps around a circular guest house, called the Round House, which contains a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and a photography darkroom. 
"Round House" Guest House  - "The Reiner-Burchill Residence" (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, 1956-1976
Floor Plan - "The Reiner-Burchill Residence" (Silvertop), John Lautner, architect, 1956-1976
The home consists of three general areas including the living area, sleeping quarters and guest house.  From the entry, you can enter the home's living area while passing an atrium filled with plants and into the expansive light-filled open living space.  The sleeping quarters are located somewhat perpendicular to the living area as it bows away from the central living area. 
Hallway off of the entry with skylights; Interior Atrium; Library
Through paneled walls with cut-out skylights providing natural light, you access the three bedrooms.  The master bedroom features an amazing fireplace, circular skylight and outdoor private garden area.
There is plenty of wardrobe and closet space with built-in drawers and closets behind wooden accordion doors.  The master bath sits off of the closet's hallway. 
An additional bedroom features brick walls at an angle along with floor-to-ceiling glass.  The wood paneling provides a rustic coziness and warmth. 
There are beautiful grounds for which you find mature landscaping, private garden areas and of course, panoramic vistas that look out to the San Gabriel Mountains, Silver Lake, Downtown Los Angeles, the Hollywood Sign and West to the Ocean.  The Reiner-Burchill Residence provides a tennis court and pool for plenty of Southern California outdoor recreation. 
If you would like a private showing, please contact me to set up a convenient time.  Offers to be reviewed August 25, 2014.  There is also an adjoining lot on Redcliff being offered separately for $500,000.  If I were you, I would buy the lot along with the residence.  It would be very well worth the $8,000,000 total, as this home will surely climb in value over time.  The Reiner-Burchill Residence has similar characteristics to Lautner's Palm Springs Bob and Dolores Hope Estate built in 1980, which is currently on market for $34,000,000

3-D Animation of Silvertop

John Edward Lautner, F.A.I.A. (1911-1994)
John Lautner, FAIA, was born in Marquette, Michigan, in 1911 and worked under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin (Wisconsin and Arizona) from 1933-39. He worked in private practice in Los Angeles from 1946 where he boldly experimented with new industrial processes in what he terms his "continual search to answer total basic human needs, emotional as well as physical, in shelter."  The John Lautner Foundation

INFINITE SPACE: The Architecture of John Lautner - TRAILER

Reiner-Burchill Residence listing and some images courtesy of Crosby Doe - CDA and the John Lautner Foundation.