Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Snuck out between conference calls for a walk today. It was raining lightly, and gray and misty, like walking through a cloud. I walked into the neighborhood just east of mine, which was built in the 60s by a visionary real estate developer named Joseph Eichler. Eichler and his wife had once lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house, and his dream was to make Wright’s modern vision and open floor plans available to the masses. Most thought he was a dilettante and a fool, but he ended up building over 10,000 homes, most of them in the Bay Area.

The Upper Lucas Valley group of Eichlers (as the homes are now known) is one of the best in the state. This was the first development in California where utilities were underground, so the neighborhood has a clean, modern look to begin with. Visit (or just click on the title above) to see examples of the Eichler style.

Unfortunately, over the years many of the Eichler homes have been remodeled with, shall we say, somewhat less respect for Eichler’s vision of modernism. It’s not even that the structures themselves have been extensively remodeled. What’s happened is that over the years, individual owners have made small changes that have the cumulative effect of turning them into what I’ve decided to call Yikes-lers. House after house, someone had taken off the modern house numbers and added ugly wooden things that look like they came from Yardbirds. Exterior lighting suddenly becomes colonial or mission style. The clean, single panel doors replaced by Home Depot specials that look as out of place on these modern homes as a spoiler on a Bentley.

Maybe I’m being judgmental, but I think people have forgotten there is a difference between modern and contemporary.

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