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Modern Patrons: Straub in San Marino
SAHSCC Tour
Sunday, September 12, 2004

Saturday, June 12th, from 2PM to 4PM, the Modern Patrons Program will investigate the work of Case Study House architect Calvin Straub and the 1954 house he designed in San Marino for Mr. & Mrs. George Brandow. The event is $10 and open to Life- and Patron-level members of SAH/SCC (the program will be open to the general membership in the event there is space available-a waiting list will be created). Reservations are required, as space is limited.

In the book "Modernism Rediscovered" by Pierluigi Serraino and Julius Shulman (Taschen, 2000), the house is described: as part of an old San Marino estate filled with trees and large plants that were preserved in the project. The relationship between the house and the garden is pivotal in the architecture. Following a pinwheel scheme, four wings extend out into the landscape from a central core, maximizing the exposure of each room to the surrounding garden. The kitchen is in the center of the house. Access to the 2,800-square-foot house is from the garden, without a formal entry hall. Living, dining and family rooms occupy two wings, while the remaining two accommo­date the sleeping section for the owners and their children. Extensive glass walls afford garden vistas throughout. Paving around the house perimeter provides each room with an out­door extension. The living room is reminiscent of the California ranch houses designed by Cliff May, the slab floor paved with river washed pebbles and the structural skeleton of the roof stretch out beyond the glass line to mediate the transition between the interior and the adjacent landscape.

Calvin C. Straub was born in 1920 in Macon, Georgia, and studied at Texas A&M and Pasadena City College before receiving his degree in architecture at the University of Southern California in 1945. After serving in the Navy, Straub lectured at USC from 1946 to 1961. From then until 1988 he held a profes­sorship of design at Arizona State University in Tempe. He worked for the firm of A.B. Gallion before entering into a partnership with Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman (1956-61), and was a member of Schoneburger, Straub, Florence & Associates (1972-75). He also ran his own office in Arizona. Together with Buff and Hensman, Straub designed Case Study House #20 (1958), and the Bass House in Altadena (1958). He also built the Lawry Foods Administrative Center in Los Angeles (1960) and the Frank Hall Student Dining Facilities at Pomona College (1982). Straub was elected Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1969. Apart from his work as an architect and lecturer, he also published Design Process and Communications (1978) and The Man-Made Environment: An Introduction to World Archi­tecture and Design (1983). He retired in 1988 and passed away in 1998.

Our afternoon at the Brandow residence will be an opportunity to experience the house, learn a great deal more about Calvin Straub firsthand, and share the perspective of the owner who commissioned the architect.

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