A new PBS special highlights 10 Homes That Changed America, and a full 20 percent can be found in LA County. Of course, Los Angeles is full of influential homes that have shaped a wide range of architectural styles, but the two featured in the program are Pasadena's Gamble House and the Pacific Palisades home of Charles and Ray Eames. Watched together, the segments show how these two imaginatively designed homes came to represent the principles of two different eras of architectural history.
The too often forgotten Gamble House was built as a summer home for David and Mary Gamble, heirs to the Proctor & Gamble consumer goods empire. Designed by brothers Charles and Henry Greene, the house is an opulent rendition of the bungalow style with Japanese influences. As the video explains, the bungalow concept itself comes from the Bengal region of South Asia, where houses are often constructed with a large, open porch to allow for breezes to pass through in the hot summer.
As an early example of Arts and Crafts architecture, the Gamble House is all about elegance and craftsmanship. In addition the the house itself, the Greene brothers also designed the furniture, carpets, and lighting fixtures that fill up the interior--and they left their employers with very specific instructions on where all of these things should go.
The unique artistry of the Gamble House was meant as a rejection of the mass-produced aesthetic of the early 20th century. But several decades later, husband and wife Charles and Ray Eames embraced the design opportunities of mass-produced materials. Built as a Case Study House (#8 to be precise) for the hugely influential series of modernist homes sponsored by Arts & Architecture, the Eames house was constructed using inexpensive factory-made materials. The sleek and colorful design shows the potential for creative use of pre-fabricated materials.
Both the Gamble and Eames Houses have been enormously influential in shaping the architecture and style of Los Angeles and beyond. Watch the videos to see more about how.