We’re wrapping up our complete coverage of all the historic mid century house plans now available from houseplans.com with this final design — a circa-1945 Case Study House Plan, by William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi.
More about Case Study Houses
The Case Study Houses were a series of mid century modern home designs created by famed architects such as Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Sarrinen and many more. They were commissioned beginning in 1945 by John Entenza, the owner and editor of Arts & Architecture magazine. Over the next two decades, 36 Case Study home plans were designed and 26 were actually constructed. The plan we spotlight today was built in Los Angeles.
Julius Shulman’s photo of CSH #22 is world famous — you will recognize it in an instant.
There has been extensive scholarship on the famous Case Study Houses. Pam has two books about these homes in her personal library: Esther McCoy’s Case Study Houses: 1945-1962* and Elizabeth A.T. Smith’s Case Study Houses: 1945-1966: The California Impetus (affiliate links).
Case Study House #3
Houseplans.com says that Case Study House #3 “was designed in the mid 40’s.” Smith’s book calls it “1945-1949”, and cites a 1945 date for the exterior perspective. The description on houseplans.com site says:
Case Study House #3 is a modern H-shaped plan that celebrates nature with a tall, covered, indoor-outdoor room called “the porch” between the kitchen/dining/living area and the bedroom wing. It’s basically a modern version of the “dogtrot” — two rooms separated by a breezeway — a classic early American vernacular plan. The carport is cranked away from the main rectangle to meet the driveway. Another distinctive feature is the “work room” adjacent to the kitchen. It was conceived as a hobby room but could become a mudroom/laundry. A few details would need to be updated (the master bathroom is small by today’s standards) but the graceful flow between rooms, the elegant windows and doors, and the generous use of sheltered outdoor space make this design compelling. In order to respect the historic nature of this project the drawings are sold unaltered.
William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi
The architects who collaborated on this design — William Wurster and Theodore Bernardi — worked together in the same firm.
The American National Biography Online has a good biography of Wurster. His home designs throughout the San Francisco area came to be known as the “Bay Area Style”. He later became dean of the the MIT School of Architecture and Planning. There, the site says:
… Wurster moved quickly to shake the foundation of architectural education. Viewing architecture as a social art and not simply structural technology, he sought to broaden the curriculum to include social research, economics, geography, and political science.
In 1949 Wurster became dean of the architecture school at Berkeley, where he continued to transform the curriculum to reflect the growing importance of architectural and design disciplines in the U.S.
The Online Archive of California, meanwhile, has a good biography of Theodore C. Bernardi. Originally an employee of Wurster’s, Bernardi’s role in the firm grew to such importance that he became a partner in 1946, when, also joined by Donn Emmons, it became Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons.
We’ve now seen a bundle of historic mid century house plans — Eichlers, Mays, Sea Ranch cottages, and now the Case Study. It’s so exciting to see renewed interest in making these “originals” available again for a new generation to build and enjoy. Thanks to folks at historichouseplans.com, for hunting them down, and bringing them back!