For many, the image of a Hollywood Hills home conjures sweeping city light views, crisp geometric lines, and a seamless blending from outdoors to indoors.
Modernist architecture is ingrained in LA’s DNA and is one of the most recognizable symbols of the Los Angeles lifestyle. The contrast between nature and the built environment side-by-side is a distinctive feature of LA and is what sets it apart from the world’s other great metropolis’.
It’s not a stretch to say that the look and feel of the modern American home was born right here in Los Angeles, and in large part because of the work of the Viennese architect Rudolph Schindler.
Although his work was not widely celebrated during his lifetime, he remains an enduring influence and is one of the most borrowed from, copied, and plain ripped off architects to this day.
Schindler’s highly-regarded later work, the Kallis-Sharlin Residence (1946) has come onto the market. Although there have been changes made over the years, the house is largely faithful to the original design and has been designated a Historical Monument.
The home was commissioned by artist Mischa Kallis to be used as a residence and art studio. In its conception, Schindler separated the property into two symmetrical wings divided by an open-air patio overlooking the valley and the San Gabriel Mountains in the distance.
Kallis later sold the home to his cousin, concert pianist Jacqueline Sharlin who joined together the two wings by converting the studio into a master bedroom suite and enclosing the patio to form a living room – a remarkably successful remodel.
The subtle outward appearance of the home is typical of the Schindler approach.
The Kallis-Sharlin Residence gracefully melds into the hillside, matching the contours of the canyon. The drive -through carport provides privacy for the residents without distracting from the natural setting.
The Wright Stuff
When the young Schindler arrived from Vienna, he and his wife were invited to stay at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin compound . Wright was already an enormous figure in American architecture and Wright had a deep influence on Schindler.
Soon after Schindler’s arrival, Wright left for Los Angeles where he found free-thinking clients more receptive to his provocative designs.
Schindler’s career got its start when Wright enlisted him to help on the legendary Hollyhock House in Los Feliz. Through Wright, Schindler was introduced to the wealthy social circle who would later become his clients. Throughout his career, Schindler would retain Wright’s influence with respect for the site, use of innovative building materials, and a clean, integrated sensibility.
Both Schindler and his wife Pauline Gibling, were quite forward thinking in the attitudes to art and life. In 1921, the couple purchased a lot in West Hollywood and set about creating a new home for themselves.
With it’s simple, unadorned design and use of industrial construction methods and materials, the home was a radical departure form the Spanish Colonial style popular at the time.
Perhaps even more radical was the notion that the home was conceived as a communal living space.
The Kings Road house has two separate living areas joined in the middle by a shared kitchen. Builder Clyde Chace and his family occupied one wing and Rudolph and Pauline in the other.
In addition, four separate work studios were included so that each could pursue their creative work. Kings Road also incorporated nature into the home with Japanese sliding screens and sleeping areas on the roof, a feature inspired by a camping trip Pauline and Rudolph took to Yosemite. The construction itself, made from tilt-slab concrete walls was a precursor to modern prefabricated homes of today.
Kings Road operated today as a museum and performing space. It’s open to the public Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00am to 6:00pm.
Schindler was as much an artist as he was an architect. In his 1912 Manifesto, he aspired to move residential architecture from functional dwellings to functional sculpture. He envisioned home designs that were not bound to a foundational grid, but rather a free-flowing skin to define the space within. ( A concept wholly embraced by Frank Gehry.) Architecture writer and onetime Schindler staff member Ester McCoy observed that he was not so much a creator of forms as he was a sculptor of space. In her essay, McCoy describes watching Schindler work. He slides his scales up and down across the contour site map and like a darkroom print, the outlines of a building emerge, blending effortlessly with the surrounding hillside.
“The man of the future does not try to escape the elements. He will rule them. His home is no more a timid retreat: The earth has become his home.”
– Rudolph Schindler
McCoy also notes the similarity of a Schindler house with musical composition, its spaces flowing into one another with a clear sense of rhythm and structure. For anyone who has ever walked through a Schindler creation, this feeling will certainly feel familiar. It’s likely no accident that many of Schindler clients were musicians.
The Kallis-Sharlin Residence is a beautiful example of the Schindler philosophy in practice. The low-slung roofline sits close to the street level. With a split-stake covering and an entrance hidden behind the carport, the home is easy to miss from the curbside. By today’s standards, the proportions are modest but tidy. Typically, the architectural features step back to allow the sweeping view of the distant mountain range speak for itself.
The conversion of the studio into a master suite and open porch into a living room is very much a welcome addition for the contemporary buyer. The remodeling is restrained and faithful to the original vision and succeeds surprisingly well.
The four bedroom, 3 bath house is situated on a generous lot with winding garden walkways to make for a serene creative hideaway.
The home is offered for sale at $2,595,000.
Listing courtesy of Crosby Doe, Ilana Gafni, and Crosby Doe Associates.