Build a Case Study House — 1945 design by William Wurster & Theodore Bernardi available at Houseplans.com

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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).

William WUrster & Theodore Bernardi house plan

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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!

See all our stories about historic mid century house plans available again for sale today.

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Comments

  1. says

    It’s great that these plans are now becoming available. Anything is better than the “big box” voluminous monstosities so popular in the mainstream of residential construction these days. It’s a real breath of fresh air..! :-)

  2. Robin, NV says

    What makes it a case study? What does that term mean?

    It’s a very Southern California design. I dig it – I like the “let’s try something entirely new” bravery of it. I also love the enclosed garden and the indoor/outdoor concept. Separating the sleeping areas from the living areas is interesting and I like that it adds a healthy dose of privacy. I wonder how efficient it would be. Presumably you could have climate control systems for each side of the house so you could control each side independently, which could save on power costs.

    However, as a liveable space, it doesn’t work all that great. There are no bathrooms in the kitchen/living side of the house. In cold climates, you’d have to bundle up to go across the dogtrot to use the bathroom (or to go to bed). But I suppose in northern climes, you could enclose the dogtrot in window walls. A beautiful plan nonetheless.

  3. Annie B. says

    It is my sincerest wish that every Eichler, Case Study, May, etc. plan could be available again. For all the money sunk into the McM house, one could have a truly fabulous MCM home.

    Personally speaking, I just don’t feel the love for a four story box pocked with dormers, but I intend no offense toward those who do.

  4. Sarah says

    The work room needs to make a comeback. It’s like the ladies’ version of a man cave (though too close to the kitchen for modern feminist sensibilities).

    • says

      Agreed! I love mine…my grandparents, who built the house, called it the ‘utility room’ so that’s what I call it as well! It’s my laundry room, but I’ve already used it as a craft room and a Christmas wrapping room in the three short months I’ve lived here! Such a nice little spot to have!

  5. Jay says

    I like the separation of the kitchen from the dining/living room area. Nice bit of traditonalism for a modern house. I like the work room/utility room off the kitchen – great for potting plants. Many people today have an abject aversion to the laundry being in the kitchen or next to it. Many of the houses on my block have vacated the space reserved for the washer/dryer open to the kitchen for additional counter and cabinet space.

    • says

      Jay,
      The kitchen in my 1956 SoCal “Cinderella” had the laundry as part of the kitchen (not a separate space, but literally in the kitchen itself). A subsequent owner relocated the washer/dryer to the garage. A later version of my floorplan had the laundry moved to an extension of the pullman-style kitchen (but still part of the kitchen space) to allow for more cabinets/storage. I will be returning my home to this later version as part of it’s “retro-restoration”… ;-)

      • Jay says

        That sounds neat! My laundry area is similar and is too small to be walled off, not that I want to. Are you the Mark that commented on the San Fernando Valley blog about Cinderella houses? I decided to search Cinderella Homes / Van Druff at lunch after reading your comment on the Mass. house post the other day. Although living on the east coast, I am fascinated by the whole SoCal suburban postwar housing boom. My uncle settled in Costa Mesa after the war, never having seen his house, I wonder if he lived in a Cinderella.

        • says

          Jay,
          In fact, that was me..! As far as your Uncle’s house is concerned, the 2nd Cinderella tract built (the first, developed by the Vandruff brothers themselves, was in Anaheim, CA only a few blocks from Disneyland, opened around the same time), was in Costa Mesa, so it is very possible that it was a Cinderella. It was the first “franchised” tract, built by Roven & Spiegel Construction Co, who also built my tract in Canoga Park, CA. I grew up in an adjacent tract to a Cinderella development in Sylmar, CA that my parents were originally going to buy into (the floorplan they backed out on is the same one I live in now, only about 10 miles to the west). For some eye candy, look up “Cinderella Homes” on Photobucket… ;-)

          • tammyCA says

            I really want to get out and about (foot injury now) and take photos of the charming Cinderella and Storybook houses to show you all..I’m concerned about homeowner’s private property rights..don’t wanna get yelled at or um, shot.
            Another poster here did post some photos from Northern Calif so they are in RR’s archives.
            The 1950s houses in the San Fernando Valley have a lot of different scallopy/deckle fascias & trims around the window which I ADORE. I’m sad right now that a cutey tiny pink house just the other day turned into a dark charcoal color before I got a photo! :(
            When house hunting years ago I remember one time capsule Cinderella house with the pink bathroom tiles and in the center was the sillouette tiles of Cinderella’s pumpkin coach – loved that…too bad the rest of the house needed expensive repairs.
            I’m also fascinated by the SoCal building boom of the 1950s…the returning WWII vets buying their brand new tract homes and the booming space/defense companies (Rocketyne, Hughes)…influencing the atomic design with starbursts, flying saucer shapes, defying gravity homes (like the Shulman photo above). There were bowling alleys with names like Rocket Bowl (sadly, I think it recently disappeared to yet another Starbucks because I don’t see it).
            On another sad note…last night on the News they showed an historic Pasadena craftsman house was thrashed by the foreclosed owners! Everything original inside was stripped bare and the back of the house ripped apart…a squatter had already taken up residence. And, isn’t it something else that there are squatter’s rights?!

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