Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream

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9781586851842: Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream

Joseph Eichler was a pioneering developer who defied conventional wisdom by hiring progressive architects to design Modernist homes for the growing middle class of the 1950s. He was known for his innovations, including "built-ins" for streamlined kitchen work, for introducing a multipurpose room adjacent to the kitchen, and for the classic atrium that melded the indoors with the outdoors. For nearly twenty years, Eichler Homes built thousands of dwellings in California, acquiring national and international acclaim. Eichler: Modernism Rebuilds the American Dream examines Eichler's legacy as seen in his original homes and in the revival of the Modernist movement, which continues to grow today. The homes that Eichler built were modern in concept and expression, and yet comfortable for living. Eichler's work left a legacy of design integrity and set standards for housing developers that remain unparalleled in the history of American building. This book captures and illustrates that legacy with impressive detail, engaging history, firsthand recollections about Eichler and his vision, and 250 photographs of Eichler homes in their prime.

Paul Adamson, AIA, holds a Master of Architecture degree from Columbia University and has practiced in New York and San Francisco. He is currently a designer at the San Francisco firm of Hornberger + Worstell, Inc. He lives in Kensington, California.

Marty Arbunich is director-publisher of the Eichler Network, a Bay Area-based company devoted exclusively to supporting and preserving the architecture and lifestyle surrounding California's 11,000 Eichler homes. He lives in San Francisco.

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From the Inside Flap:

Joseph Eichler was a pioneering developer of residential suburbs whose socially conscious ethic progressive planning, and elegant modern design for moderately priced housing in California still serves as a standard for housing developments today. Defying conventional building industry wisdom by hiring a group of progressive architects to plan subdivisions and design reasonably priced homes, Eichler provided more than 11,000 residences that helped meet the dramatic need for post-World War II housing with extraordinary commodity and style.

Through the 1950s and sixties, Eichler Homes gained national and international acclaim for its innovative yet affordable features. Eichler and his architects improved family living when they initiated flexible open planning and built-in furnishings that reformed traditional rooms. The kitchen opened onto a "multipurpose room" (the forerunner of today's great room); the living and dining rooms were combined, and often used to separate the children's rooms from the parents' room; and a central atrium brought the ambient joys of the Californian climate inside while expanding interior vistas.

Eichler's social conscience inspired him to confront prevailing business and political trends that promoted racism and discouraged creative land use. His subdivisions, recalling the planning ideas of Clarence Stein, were based on village concepts, and he publicly declared a policy of nondiscrimination.

Fifties-era photographs capture the now-classic style that introduced middle-class families to a modern way of life. Popular today, as they were then, the Eichler homes represent a legacy of design integrity and demonstrate a level of quality for residential development that remains unparalleled in the history of American building.

From the Back Cover:

Atriums, household conveniences, and sleek styling made Eichler Homes a standard-bearer for bringing modern home design to middle-class America.

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