"Mid-century modern (or MCM, as it’s often called by pretentious folks like ourselves), is all about straight lines, simple design, open spaces (sometimes), and a good less-is-more mentality."The time period is roughly from 1933 to 1965. California was a primary focus for developers of modern suburban architecture that featured indoor-outdoor connectivity.
"Imagine that it is mid-November 1954. You enter a well-lighted room in Walnut Creek’s old City Hall. You watch and listen as snappily dressed 5’9,” 160 lb. Joseph Eichler puts down his chewed cigar onto a green glass ashtray. He adjusts his dark rimmed thick lens glasses and rises to help two associates lay out their architect’s map showing 563 housing lots on 176 acres adjacent to Ygnacio Valley Road, across from the old Heather Farms Race Track. Eichler has named the tract Rancho San Miguel. The City’s men seem pleased. This, after all, would be the largest tract yet to be developed in Walnut Creek; and Eichler is one of the most respected developers in the West if not the nation. The dapper, ambitious Eichler proposes that his unique and affordable housing will enhance the city’s reputation for luxury living at affordable cost, that it will meet both the city’s and buyers’ desire for comfort and style in a safe suburban neighborhood. The move away from big cities is bringing thousands of new residents: Walnut Creek should be ready."More can be read about Rancho San Miguel here, as well as at the housing association's website.
"What I find most remarkable about [Cliff] May is he never studied architecture in school and was not a registered architect his entire career. He designed and built his first home when he was just 23 after dropping out of San Diego State University where he was studying business and accounting. During his career, May designed over 1,000 custom homes and more than 18,000 tract homes were built following his house models.Another admirer notes that Cliff May was doing large-scale prefabrication 60 years before the green movement made it fashionable, and discusses Mays' other inventions.
"Cliff May's homes embraced the outdoors and Southern California's temperate climate by creating living spaces that blurred the line between indoors and out. His design philosophy was to build out, not up and to create a living environment that was in harmony with the homeowner's California lifestyle. To accomplish this, he often integrated exposed beam ceilings, open floor plans and floor to ceiling windows which made the interior feel unconfined, livable and airy — as if you were actually outdoors."
"Builders of ranch houses also began to simplify and cheapen construction of the homes to cut costs, eventually reducing the style down to a very bland and uninteresting house, with little of the charm and drama of the early versions. By the late 1970s, the ranch house was no longer the home of choice, and had been eclipsed by the neo-eclectic styles of the late 20th century."However, the story doesn't end there. There's been a recent revival.
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