1960 Berkeley time capsule house — built by architect David K. Burton for his family

midcentury houseTour-a-Time-CapsuleSome of our favorite time capsule homes are those famed architects built for themselves. Thanks to a tip from reader Christa, here’s another: The 1960 home in Berkeley, California, built by architect David K. Burton for his family and now for sale for the first time.

“Influenced by the elegant austerity of the Japanese approach, the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Macintosh, and by Bernard Maybeck’s use of natural materials,” this house exudes a tranquil beauty. But it’s by no means sleepy: Inside, we love the way that Burton has deftly used the color black to punctuate the warm wood tones throughout the house. This house: Pretty darn 20th century timeless!

midcentury living roomFrom the listing:

  • Price: 1,300,000
  • Year built: 1960
  • Square footage: 1,658
  • Bedrooms: 2
  • Bathrooms: 2

3065 Buena Vista Way is an incomparable mid-century masterpiece, expertly designed by architect-owner David K. Burton for his family at the zenith of the period. Its combination of features is faithful to the style, yet never to be duplicated.

Meticulously maintained and now being sold by his son, the home was constructed in the post-and-beam method, using old-growth quarter-sawn redwood in exterior and interior walls. Five sets of floor-to-ceiling French doors set among walls of windows flank an open floor plan, bringing the outdoors in. An elevator makes the home effectively “level in” for those who want or need it.

Perched on a hill overlooking North Berkeley, with San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge beyond, the shops, services and world-class food of North Shattuck and the Gourmet Ghetto are just minutes away.

midcentury open floor plan

In 1956 David and his wife, Hilde, purchased the property upon which the house is built. Construction began in 1959, and work was completed, and a Certificate of Occupancy issued, on May 4, 1960. Over the years, both Hilde and David nurtured many friendships within the Beat Generation of modern poets and with members of the San Francisco Renaissance School of modern painters. The Burton house was often a gathering place for these creative people; an open, supportive and judgment-free environment in which to share ideas, food and revelry.


Passionate about his craft, Mr. Burton circulated among local mid-century adherents of the day. His 1959 design was influenced by the elegant austerity of the Japanese approach, the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the Scottish architect Charles Rennie Macintosh, and by Bernard Maybeck’s use of natural materials. In this case, it is also characterized by complex engineering and the invisible use of structural steel. The quality of the design, construction materials and execution are of the highest standard.

Original plans, building contract, building inspection record, and Certificate of Occupancy are on file.


Unique features of 3065 Buena Vista Way:

  • Almost 1700 sq.ft. of living space, per the public record
  • Over 1/4 acre lot size (11,660 sq.ft.), per the public record
  • 2 bedrooms plus a den — ‘future 3rd bedroom’ according to the plans — and 2 bathrooms
  • Expansive San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate views
  • Underground utilities
  • An elevator for “level in” access, erected in 2009, with plans, permit and service history on file
  • 16 copper-lined skylights
  • Parking for six cars
  • Interior and exterior recessed LED lighting
  • Remote-activated exterior lighting
  • Generous weather-proof basement with wine storage and expansion potential

midcentury-kitchenAbove: The way the wall cabinets are designed into the window wall is a very clever. Notice how the each wall cabinet creates its own, lighted display space underneath. At the same time, their arrangement puts further emphasis on the home’s amazing views. Notice also — see the slide show #26, how this triptych of windows is repeated in the front window — sublime design.

midcentury-kitchenThis kitchen looks as fresh today as it did in 1960 when it was completed. Don’t you think? The black tile countertops — edged in wood — with tile-in stainless steel sink = fabulous. The bathroom sink, we noticed, uses the same tile and sink materials.

There’s also a video tour of the home, created by Timothy Shonnard Photography, that also allows us to see the elevator in action.

Link love with our thanks for permission to feature this house and images:

See our complete archive of 100+ time capsule houses here.

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read any captions… move forward by clicking on the photo… you can start or stop at any image:


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  1. Christopher says

    The house is beautiful, but I’m so sick of photographs of homes that have no window treatments. It is so unrealistic.

    What is with the venting in the wood above the fridge? Air duct? Any idea if the kitchen pulls are original?

    • Jay says

      Well, there are blinds but keep in mind, when on top of a hill and looking out to beautiful views and no fears of peeping toms, why have fussy window treatments and cover the glass – it is a modern home.

    • Jennifer says

      It isn’t unrealistic at all. I am at this moment watching lightning through our completely “untreated” windows. We have exactly one window treatment in the whole–very windowed–house, a low profile shade that guests can use to cover a sliding glass door. It really depends on how the house is situated, both for privacy and for views.

  2. Jay says

    Wow! Very earthy and comfortable. Requires a special buyer who would be appreciative of the property’s provenance. I sure hope someone doesn’t decide to paint out all that beautiful wood.

  3. Jennifer says

    This is so lovely; it exudes calm. I adore the kitchen, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a kitchen from 1960. I’m a displaced East Bay girl, so the flora and bay area views and redwood make me homesick!

  4. Christa says

    I want the house too! OMGEEE, the photos look good but walking through the home is even better. The stunning Golden Gate views from nearly every room, and the glorious sense of calm and privacy. The back patio directly off the main living area makes the square footage much larger — in this area, you can sit outdoors in comfort most days of the year. The house is on a private lot at the end of a very fancy, quiet street. The owner/architect obviously picked the lot with care and sited the home to take advantage of the views. The carport is also huge and could easily be enclosed to create a home office, art studio, or au pair apartment (with still enough room to park your car). The only downsides are that there are recommendations for seismic work, and the shared private drive could use some paving.

  5. Joe Felice says

    “Meticulously maintained” are the key words. In general, if you are able to find a mid-century home wherein lives the original owner or family, you will find this to be the case. People in those days grew up with a different ethic and respect for what they had, probably because they had to work so hard to get it. But they kept their houses clean, their lawns tidy, and performed repairs as needed, often themselves. I guess they were just house-proud. Now, if you find a home that is not occupied by the original owner, it will have been remodeled several times in an effort to get rid of the old, but, in most cases, the remodel looks worse than what it replaced. If you’re lucky, and have the money, you can uncover some of the mid-century magic, and restore the home to its original luster.

  6. says

    This house is so beautiful, It’s hard not to be in awe of its exquisite and tasteful details. It is, in my humble opinion, an example of what I call Pacific Coast Zen modernism. These kind of houses were built to highlight the beauty of the natural elements of the Pacific coastline. When it’s done well, as it is here, it’s breathtaking and timeless.

  7. Amy says

    Builders/developers of today could take some cues from this home – very livable! Serene! Of course we don’t all have those views, but there is a way to do this on a modest scale within a housing development. Use of various screens – wood/masonry and plantings – work well for generous windows. They did it back in the day – no artistry any more even for modest homes! Let’s demand – and start a revolution!

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