Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Court Housing in California...

Lewis Court, Santa Monica -
There have been architects who have designed attractive affordable housing. One that comes to mind is Irving Gill. Gill worked for Adler and Sullivan in Chicago, and then left to make his mark in Southern California.
One of his masterpieces is Lewis Court in Santa Monica.
Gill seems to have captured some California essentials in this project - a derivation from Spanish/Moorish influences in terms of courts as a central focus, the "parti" (organizational theorem) in the design.

The architecture of the complex is both modern and timeless, as the architecture of the Greek islands.

. . .
Beach Court, Santa Cruz -
This complex was a motel complex design for beach goers who wanted to stay longer than one night. It is currently rental studios.

There is no parking on site, however it is a corner lot and there appears to be street parking (whenever I have visited).
Modern planning would prevent this wonderful place from happening. Parking would stop it cold. Density would stop it cold.
Building codes would wreak havoc with the units. Yet they are lovely, warm, and really beloved by the inhabitants. Why not ?
. . .

Lincoln Court, Alameda -
This project is a series of condos in an "English Village" style of architecture. The units are small and organized on both sides of this delightful landscaped path.

The site runs between two streets and what you don't see is that there are alleys on both sides which hide the garages in the rear of each unit.

So, why go on about these? I heard an urban designer from Seattle say that "there is one-third of the housing market which is grossly under served - the three S's - Seniors, Singles and Students".

I am two of those three now.


  1. If you think about it you are all three. We are all students.

  2. Yes, this is a rather old blog post, but...

    For those interested, Irving Gill built four other courtyard apartment projects:

    1. FB Lewis Terrace (renamed Bella Vista Terrace,) in Sierra Madre, CA - extant, though substantially altered, garden court compromised by later construction, widely published c1914.
    2. Echo Park Court apartments, Los Angeles, CA - demolished, no plans, drawings or photos remain. design unknown
    3. West Adams Villa apartments, Los Angeles, CA - demolished, no plans, drawings or photos remain. design unknown
    4. Ronada Court, Piedmont (Oakland,) CA - extant, good condition, attributed to Gill, published without attribution, no documentation establishing Gill as architect, City of Piedmont permit records lost.



Recommended Books

  • - Precedents in Architecture
  • - City Comforts
  • - A Pattern Language
  • - The Architecture of Happiness
  • - Architectural Composition
  • - Design Language
  • - Elements of Garden Design
  • - Chambers for a Memory Palace