oscar niemeyer in america : architecture : strick house

openhouse-magazine-oscar-niemeyer-in-america-architecture-strick-house 1text by Adrien Glik Kudler  via somewhere i would like to live


He’s best known for his work on Brasilia, a whole-cloth Brazilian capital city built in the late 1950s, but he did design one house in the US, “where he was long banned because of his leftist political associations,” according to an Architectural Digest story from 2005. The 1963 Strick House sits on Santa Monica’s architecture-packed La Mesa Drive, and it was designed via post–Niemeyer never visited the site or met Joseph and Anne Strick, who commissioned the house (Joseph was a filmmaker best known for his adaptation of Ulysses and in fact divorced Anne before the house was even finished). According to Santa Monica Landmarks, the Stricks were politically-progressive types living in the mid-century Mar Vista tract designed by Gregory Ain when they asked Niemeyer to design them a new house. Anne said that “The choice of Niemeyer was not only an aesthetic one, but, in part, a way of thumbing our noses at the whole McCarthy era because it seemed so reprehensible that a man, simply because of his political views, could be prevented from working in this country.” Local architect Ulrich Plaut handled the working drawings and “Anne Strick oversaw the completion of the residence with the collaboration of Interior Designer Amir Farr.”

The Strick is a one-story T-shape with bedrooms along the east side, the kitchen in the center, and the main living area in the stem of the T, according to AD: “The glassy, indoor-outdoor pavilion, with a flat roof suspended by an exoskeletal superstructure, was part of a very sensible floor plan that harbored a swimming pool in an outdoor room at the rear.”
When the Strick family finally had to sell about a decade ago, a developer bought the property and planned to knock the house down, which “finally triggered the attention of the landmarks commission, which issued a stay of execution, putting the preservation community on alert.” Modern collectors Michael and Gabrielle Boyd bought the house within the month and found that, unlike a lot of other landmark modernism, it was in pretty good shape and didn’t need any major work. The only big thing they did was convert the garage into a library and extend its walls to put in a new garage. Michael told AD in 2005 “As far as we can tell, there’s nothing left to do.” Judging by Redfin, they still own the house.

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