In the summer issue of Modernism magazine, there's a fascinating feature by Timothy Braseth on underappreciated architect Josef Van der Kar. Per the article, Van der Kar, who passed away in 2002 aged 94, was a card-carrying Communist whose political activism "made him a target of the House Un-American Activities Committee." A resident of Laurel Canyon, the architect's closest friends included neighbor Julius Schulman, whose photos accompany the story, landscape designer Garrett Eckbo, and fellow "radical" architect Gregory Ain. But surprisingly, Van der Kar and his wife's inner circle also included neoconservative heroes Albert and Roberta Wohlstetter, a husband-wife team of foreign policy and nuclear arms strategists. To give a better sense of the unlikelihood of this friendship, Stanley Kubrick's nutty warmonger Dr. Strangelove is said to be based on Albert Wohlstetter. Nevertheless, the two couples became the best of friends after the Wohlstetters commissioned Van der Kar to build them a house in 1953. Among the features of the International-style home, located on the lot next door to Van der Kar's own, was "a special nook with a hot-line telephone direct to the Oval Office."
Last week, one of Van der Kar's homes hit the market, and while it may not have a direct line to the White House, it's still a real beaut. Sited on an 8,451 square foot lot overlooking the Silver Lake reservoir, the 1960 post-and-beam features three bedrooms, two baths, a studio/office, two fireplaces (one indoors, one outdoors), hardwood floors, walls of glass, a floating staircase, expansive decks, and built-ins galore. It's listed at $1.07 million.
· Josef Van der Kar: Building Architectural Bridges [JetsetModernist]
· The Jenkyns House: Josef Van der Kar, AIA [Deasy Penner]
· 1973 REDESDALE Ave [Redfin]