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5.0 out of 5 stars Stating the Case, 5 Jan 2008
Robin Benson - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Presence of the Case Study Houses (Hardcover)
I found this latest Case Study book written by two European architects an interesting overview of the thirty-six projects . Anyone familiar with the concept will know that it was a sort of magical mystery tour of house design with Julius Davidson's House 1 in 1945 re-numbered as 11, Kemper Nomland's House 10 was actually the third one built in 1947, because design and building was running behind by 1950 all the Houses were re-numbered leaving Ralph Soriano's House just as Study 1950 (actually the thirteenth built) and Richard Neutra's House 19 rejected by the Arts & Architecture editor John Entenza. None of this, of course, is any criticism of the wonderful designs sponsored by the magazine.

The authors plunge into this administrative confusion describing each House with a wealth of text detail and illustrated with pages from Arts & Architecture, plans and period ads. What appealed to me though about the book are the color photos they took of seventeen Houses. I've only ever seen these homes through Julius Shulman's brilliant work and now to see them as matured properties surrounded by trees and gardens and the interiors glowing with that lived in look is rather impressive.

Most of the book is, of course, taken up with the Houses but after that there is an interesting series of short sections dealing with the architects drawings, Shulman's photos, how advertisers used the properties, past and current owners and at the back a listing of each House with address, architect, photo (contemporary colour or period) and a plan, unfortunately the plans are a bit small and don't have any key. Lastly there is a spread that has a useful timeline from 1945 to 1966 for each House.

Overall I found this a fascinating book and the inclusion of the contemporary photos a real plus. A couple of criticisms: the authors writing style is rather flowery though this might have something to do with the translation from French and (oddly) there is no index. I think the book is a good complement to Elizabeth Smith's quite remarkable `Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses' published by MIT in 1989.

***FOR AN INSIDE LOOK click 'customer images' under the cover.
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The Presence of the Case Study Houses
The Presence of the Case Study Houses by Ethel Buisson (Hardcover - 28 Oct 2004)
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