Case Study House #26 was built in San Rafael (near San Francisco) in 1962, on a design by Beverley Thorne.
Intended as the residence of Bethlehem Steel CEO Harrison Fuller, after his death, a TWA pilot/flight attendant couple lived in this home until it was sold in 2015.
The design is based on a simple concept: A shoebox comprised of 8 identical bays, steel-framed and covered with a flat roof. The social spaces are accentuated by a double height space, whose dramatic roof follows the slope of the lot.
Using a steel structure allowed the ultimate indoor/outdoor living experience: All typical exterior walls are fully glazed; also allowing panoramic views over the nearby State Park and golf course.
Landscape designer Garrett Eckbo (EDAW, now Aecom) designed the landscape. Recent renovation and preservation work was conducted by Cord Struckmann, AIA.
Both past and current owners have been taking great care to preserve the home for future generations.
Beverley (David) Thorne (1924 - 2017) liked the challenge to design houses for hillsides, typically shunned by regular developers. His preferred medium was steel. It allowed him large spans, boldly cantilevered structures, while reducing earthwork and number of foundations to the absolute minimum.
He himself helped welding the steel members for Case Study House, which is his only Case Study House project.
A graduate of UC Berkeley, David Thorne gained early fame for his spectacular 1954 Oakland home for jazz musician Dave Brubeck. Working later under his given name Beverley and out of the limelight of architecture circles, he completed more than 100 homes throughout California and Hawaii, where he spent his last years. He was the last living architect of the Case Study House program.
The Case Study House Program ran from 1944 to 1967 and was sponsored by the ‘Arts and Architecture’ magazine. The idea of editor John Entanza, with support from the Eames, Richard Neutra and others, was to show the American public how families can live in modern times: with modern layouts, good connection to the outdoors, with modern amenities like cars electric and appliances, and using industrial materials to allow for efficient, inexpensive construction.
Under the program, about 30 homes were designed; and about 20 were built; with almost all of them in the Los Angeles area. The 1949 Eames House (#8) and the 1960 Stahl House (#22) are the most well-known ones. After construction, each Case Study House was open to the public for tours. For the Case Study House 26’s Open Houses in 1962, helicopters landed on the roof - aka helipad - ; one of the house’s innovative features.
The program represented the optimistic, innovative character of post-war Californian architecture.Only few of the Case Study Houses - with #26 among them - are still in their original condition.
Case Study House #26 - as many other houses in the Marin Bay Development - was built by 20th Century Homes. Its founders, Roy Claxton and Hal Weiss, met when working on an Eichler development, where they also lived before they moved out to the Marin Bay / Peacock Gap. They were very interested in advancing construction means and methods as well as developing outstanding homes. For Marin Bay, they partnered with Bethlehem Steel (for CSH#26) and the Plywood Industry for the 'Hanging Garden House' (shown to the left).
In the late 1960s, Roy and Hal developed patented house designs that improved the quality and construction speed by cutting the wood directly at the mill in Idaho, so the framing arrived ready to be installed on site. Many of these truncated A-frame houses can still be found in Northern California.