'Celebrate Eichlers' Event-Nov 1st & 2nd!

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Adriene
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'Celebrate Eichlers' Event-Nov 1st & 2nd!

Postby Adriene » Sun Oct 13, 2002 2:28 pm

Be sure to check out our upcoming 2-day Eichler event in Palo Alto under 'EVENTS'!! Ernie Braun photos...book signing...Eichler Homes memorabilia! Alan Hess will be a featured speaker on Nov. 1st!

Adriene

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Adriene
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ARCHITECTURAL WORLD HONORS TRACT HOUSES THAT DEFIED THE RULE

Postby Adriene » Fri Oct 25, 2002 10:26 am

Catch this great article out this morning in the Mercury News!

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/4354900.htm

Posted on Fri, Oct. 25, 2002

Celebrating a classic: The Eichler Vision
ARCHITECTURAL WORLD HONORS TRACT HOUSES THAT DEFIED THE RULES
By Kim Boatman
Mercury News

More than a half-century ago, Joseph Eichler, a developer with an abiding passion for modern design, set out to shape a then-new American frontier, suburbia. His vision was particularly suited to a time, the 1950s, and a place, California.

His accomplishments were so unique and, indeed, so visionary that amid a sea of tract homes whose developers' names have long faded into oblivion, the Eichler homes still occupy a signature place in California architecture. Chances are if you've ever house-hunted for a midpriced home in Silicon Valley, you know what an Eichler is. You'd recognize the flat or slightly pitched roof, the atrium entranceway and the expanses of glass bringing the outdoors in.

But Eichlers have been somewhat unheralded in American architectural circles -- after all, how many tract homes win attention? -- until recently. A renewed interest in midcentury modernism, coupled with the enduring nature of the Eichlers' clean, modern design, has the homes at the forefront once again.

The American Institute of Architects, California Council, recently gave its award for distinguished California architecture completed 25 to 50 years ago to Eichler Homes Inc., the company that built 11,000 homes in the state. An Eichler Historic Quest committee has nominated two Palo Alto Eichler subdivisions and two custom Eichlers to the National Register of Historic Places. And the committee's Celebrate Eichlers event on Nov. 1-2 in Palo Alto will showcase a new definitive book, ``Eichler/Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream'' (Gibbs Smith, 240 pp., $50), from San Francisco architect Paul Adamson, Marty Arbunich, director of the for-profit Eichler Network, and original Eichler photographer Ernie Braun.

Eichlers, it seems, are finally receiving their due.

``You could call them the most significant architectural venture into mass housing. The thing that is so amazing is that this is modern architecture for the mass market,'' says Kevin Alter, associate director of the Center for American Architecture and Design at the University of Texas at Austin. ``Until quite recently, they were unknown in schools of architecture.

``They were modest buildings for people of relatively modest means. They are really quite extraordinary, but they're not extravagant.''

Eichler's homes weren't unique in their devotion to modernism. But as Adamson writes in his new book, Eichler tract homes ``defied conventional merchant builder wisdom that advised against building houses of modern design.''

Stubborn to the bone, he followed his passion, hiring teams of architects to design tract homes. He employed legendary landscape architect Thomas Church at a time when the lawn and outdoor space was an afterthought for developers. He included the trademark atrium, which virtually included the outdoors in indoor living space, against all advice. He battled planning commissions and bureaucracy unprepared for his building methods, which included post-and-beam construction. He pioneered mass construction methods, building developments in one fell swoop.

And he created houses that even today inspire great passion.

``It's sort of a love 'em or hate 'em reaction, and it generally strikes people right off,'' says Barry Brisco, co-chair of Historic Quest and so proud of his Eichler that you can tour his San Mateo home by visiting www.totheweb.com/Eichler.

It seems you either love the Eichlers for their clean design, the flow of space and the embracing of the outdoors or you hate them for their non-traditional look, their cold feel, their flat roof, the walls that sometimes don't reach all the way to the ceiling.

``They were never really popular,'' Adamson says. ``It still remains a product that has appeal for a limited group of people. It's sort of hip right now.''

In fact, Catherine Munson, the first woman Eichler salesperson in the late 1950s and still active in real estate in Marin County, is quoted in Adamson's book as saying many buyers ``hated our designs.''

Still, Eichler found a market based on time and place. While he constructed homes in Southern California, Sacramento and even made a failed attempt to move into New York state, the vast majority of his homes are located in the Bay Area. He built 2,700 houses in Palo Alto, 1,100 in Sunnyvale, 900 in San Mateo and 550 in San Jose, among other locations.

His homes suited the post-World War II mentality, says Alter, the architecture professor, because people came out of the war years excited about the promise of a new life. More people were ready to give modern design a whirl.

And the homes worked in California, too, because they embraced a sort of indoors/outdoors living that many found inviting. Or at least enough people found inviting. And those people tended to be of a creative bent, Brisco says. ``When you look back in the marketing literature of the time, they did attract a certain type, a more artistic type.''

Ernie Braun's marketing photographs did much to capture the appeal of a lifestyle. Seen today in ``Eichler/Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream,'' each photograph is like opening a time capsule. The cheery families in period clothing entertain, grill outside and play croquet. It's an uncluttered, relentlessly idealistic portrayal of family life.

Braun, 81, who lives in Marin County, says he was simply trying to bring a little life to the Eichlers. At the time, there was no sense he was part of something historic.

``It was just another routine job. What was special was that I had the freedom to use people in the pictures,'' he says. ``Architects don't like people messing up their beautiful pictures. At that time, the Eichler homes seemed a little simple and stark. I thought it would make them look lived in.

``I was just trying to honestly portray what they were in as simple a way as possible and also make them as attractive as possible. The test of time has maybe made them more important.''

There is, it seems, a whole Eichler universe created for and by those who love these homes. Arbunich's well-done Eichler Network newsletter chronicles life in Eichlers and offers a rich historical record.

Arbunich also brings together Eichler homeowners and a whole community of small businesses that exist solely to service Eichlers and their several quirks. You'll find plenty of ads for roofing services and radiant heat repair companies, two of the less-functional aspects of Eichler homes.

Greatly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright and the experience of living in a home designed by the great architect, Eichler first began building in 1949. In 1950, his first architecturally designed homes sold for $9,500 -- ``slightly more than the cheapest kind of house,'' Adamson says. Included were appliances and backyard fences, unusual touches for the day. Today, some of those original homes sell for more than $1 million.

The heyday for Eichlers was the 1950s and early 1960s, though Eichler built his last homes before he died in 1974. His attempt to move into urban housing in the '60s wasn't successful. But his legacy had already been constructed.

Today, the concern is for preserving that legacy.

``We're sad whenever we see an Eichler get torn down and replaced with something that doesn't have any connection to what it used to be,'' says Brisco, ``or when you try to expand them or add on willy-nilly. Eichler didn't use stucco. He was the anti-stucco.''


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www.eichlernetwork.com has historical articles, information about Celebrate Eichlers and links to vendors and real estate agents; www.totheweb.com/eichler offers a tour of Barry Brisco's Eichler.

Honoring Eichlers

Look for all things Eichler at Celebrate Eichlers in Palo Alto. Besides memorabilia and an exhibition of Ernie Braun Eichler photos, the two-day event will feature speakers such as Braun, author Paul Adamson, model-home interior designer Matt Kahn and Catherine Munson, the first woman salesperson for Eichler. Many of the home-improvement companies that have sprung up to service Eichlers will have booths at the event.

Where: Cubberley Center Auditorium, Palo Alto

When: Nov. 1, noon to 8 p.m.; Nov. 2, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: Free


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Contact Kim Boatman at kboatman@sjmercury.com.





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© 2001 mercurynews and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.bayarea.com

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Adriene
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CELEBRATING A CLASSIC: THE EICHLER VISION

Postby Adriene » Fri Oct 25, 2002 10:35 am

http://www.bayarea.com/mld/mercurynews/4354902.htm

Posted on Fri, Oct. 25, 2002


Celebrating a classic: the Eichler Vision
NINETEEN YEARS LATER, HOWEVER, IT'S STILL A PERFECT FIT
By Sheila Himmel
Mercury News

Our real estate agent was getting tired of us, a haggard couple with odd work schedules whose year-old baby was nearing 2 when the search finally ended. ``Anything but an Eichler,'' we said after seeing a few in our price range.

So many bad qualities. Dark paneling, tiny bedrooms, sticky garage doors no one ever pried open. Some Eichlers also had odd floor plans, like two bathrooms next to each other. Or odd things had been done to them, so you had to walk through a bedroom to get to the washing machine.

Worse, they were known as fire hazards. We heard about ``seven-minute Eichlers.'' With all the wood and glue, that's how quickly they burned.

But on a hot day in September, 19 years ago, we walked into a stuffy 1956-built South Bay Eichler and the boy in my husband's arms said, ``Nice!''

Maybe we just needed the torture to stop. But in eight months of looking, Jacob had never expressed enthusiasm. We bought the Eichler.

And with it gradually evolved a mindset that turned out to fit perfectly, like a dress that's not really your style but you get all these compliments and realize, yes, this is me.

As our back yard went from plastic wheels to metal climbing structures to skating rails and a trampoline, Ned and I could easily keep an eye out as we moved throughout the house. Eichlers' backsides are dominated by plate glass.

At first that also seemed an Eichler flaw. A ball, or much worse, a child, would surely go through the glass. We took out glass insurance with a zero deductible. Those 1956 plates sailed through the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and everything else we could throw at them.

But what the plates of glass do best is let in light. In Joe Eichler's houses, you walk from dark enclosures to light expanses. In our 1,800-square-foot house, the pattern is introduced before you even walk in. Out front is a short but dark passageway into the atrium. Tree fern and impatiens to the right, Japanese maple to the left.

The day may be cloudy or stormy, but you never feel shut up in an Eichler. As fans are fond of saying, it brings the outside in.

Too much in, we were to find. A flat roof tends to puddle up and leak. First, we re-roofed and added insulation. Later, we smartened up and added lots of downspouts. With that seven-minute-fire thing in mind, we ripped out most of the paneling and installed sheetrock. (By ``we'' I mainly mean roofers and contractors.)

Before our daughter was born, one year after buying the house, we attacked the horrible kitchen. Eichler kept costs down by mass-producing cabinets and other parts. But sometimes the design and the parts didn't match, as in our kitchen window being here and the sink over there. That was merely unaesthetic. Functional flaws abounded. Across a narrow galley, the refrigerator and tiny, terrible oven faced off. To open one door the other had to be shut. If somebody was working there, you had to be a small child to walk past.

By far the biggest annoyances were the cupboards, made of early-day particle board with sliding doors that always stuck in their tracks. Also, they were wide, so that once you managed to shove one open, you could be sure that what you wanted was on the other side.

We gutted the kitchen and later the tiny bathrooms, but all rooms stayed their original size. Not for lack of trying. Our daughter, almost 18, has long had a sign on her door: ``Welcome to Lisa's VERY SMALL room.''

What she has yet to appreciate is that all the bedrooms are nicely separated from the common areas. Bedrooms line up on the long leg of the h-shaped house. Living room, kitchen and family room flow into each other, doorless. So if we're playing Ella Fitzgerald in the living room while Lisa's watching ``Gilmore Girls'' in the family room, we have to negotiate. And if anyone is cooking, everyone knows it.

But Eichlers adapt easily to interior change. All of our sheetrock, new fixtures and carpeting have maintained the original floor plan. The four-bedroom, two-bath house was designed by A. Quincy Jones, one of the state's most distinguished architects, and his partner, Frederick E. Emmons, so who were we to mess with that? Redwood beams run the width of the house, asserting a calming line with tongue-in-groove redwood ceilings (now stained to lighten it up) that stand 10 feet high in the living room and kitchen.

And the neighbors have been great. We are surrounded by artists -- a sculptor, a painter and a photographer. Down the street is a two-time Academy Award nominee. For a suburban tract street, that's a creative bunch.

Meanwhile, the boy who picked this house is off in architecture school. Perhaps to someday design harmonic houses for new generations.


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Contact Sheila Himmel at shimmel@sjmercury.com or (408) 920-5926. Fax (408) 271-3786.





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© 2001 mercurynews and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.bayarea.com

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Futura Girl
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Postby Futura Girl » Mon Nov 04, 2002 6:18 pm

So How Was It???

Adriene... please post pictures so we can see what we all missed!

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Adriene
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Postby Adriene » Tue Nov 05, 2002 10:09 pm

The event was a tremendous success, very well attended!

http://totheweb.com/eichler/event_fall2002/index.html

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Adriene
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Postby Adriene » Wed Nov 13, 2002 12:51 am

For more pix of the event, go to:

http://www.eichlersocal.com/Celebrate.htm


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