Beginning in 1945, Arts & Architecture magazine, under the guidance of Publisher and Editor John Entenza, sponsored the Case Study Houses project which featured the works of many prominent architects and was a leading influencer on emerging modernist architecture. Coming out of the Great Depression and on the heels of WWII, America was a country in transition and Entenza sought architectural solutions for the changing family dynamics and presented scenarios whereby architects would design a home based on a specific family.
Case Study House #1 was proposed in 1945 as a home suitable for Mr. and Mrs. X who are both professional people with mutual business interests. The family consists of one teen-aged daughter away at school and a mother-in-law who is an occasion welcome guest. They suppose that the joint income is sufficient to provide ample but not elaborate living standards. The guest (mother-in-law) is part of the normal life of the household but desires some separation and if possible, that would include a separate apartment with some privacy. The daughter, although away at school for extended periods of time, would require some space when home that could also be usable for the parents when she is away.
The challenge was given to Julius Ralph Davidson, a German born interior designer who settled in California in 1923. He designed a duplex that did not attract any interested clients until three years later when Arts & Architecture magazine revisited the study with a different target family. New construction began on a 100’ x 125’ moderately level lot in North Hollywood for a hypothetical family consisting of a couple in early middle age, both active in careers that keep them away from home frequently. Consideration was taken for an abundance of light and air, easy housekeeping and minimum maintenance, with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living.
The revised Case Study House #1 was completed in 1948 at 10152 Toluca Lake Ave and is a 2,000 square foot, 3 bedroom, 2 bath post and beam wood framed home on concrete slab. Standardized materials were used throughout and featured a flat roof, floor to ceiling glass and flexible multi-purpose rooms, all of which were common features in the program. While the home is called House #1, it wasn’t the first one completed and was one of six completed in 1948.