harwell hamilton harris

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The brilliant Weston Havens Residence was built by Los Angeles architect Harwell Hamilton Harris for philanthropist and a devotee of modernism John Weston Havens Jr. in 1940. This hidden gem sits atop a steep slope on Panoramic Hill, east of San Francisco, just above the UC Berkeley campus. Widely acknowledged by scholars to be a masterpiece of California modernist architecture, it has been compared to Richard Neutra’s Lovell Health House and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water. After Havens’ death in 2001, the residence now accommodates visiting professors of the College of Environmental Design and provides a culturally and historically valuable haven to attract world-class talent.

Source: ced.berkeley.edu | huntington.org

Hopmans House, 1951

The Hopmans House was designed in 1951 by Harwell Hamilton Harris (1903-1990), a modernist American architect whose work assimilated European and American influences.

Born in Redlands, California in 1903, Harris began his studies at Pomona College but left after a year to study sculpture at the Otis Art Institute, now Otis College of Art and Design. In 1928, he began apprenticing under architect Richard Neutra. Adopting Neutra’s modernist sensibility, Harris merged the vernacular of California with a sensitivity to site and materials characteristic of the American Arts & Crafts Movement.

From 1952 until 1955, Harris served as the Dean for the School of Architecture of the University of Texas. In 1955, he left the university and established a private practice in Dallas, which he maintained until 1962 when he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina where he re-established his practice and began teaching at North Carolina State University. He retired from teaching in 1973 but continued to practice architecture from his home studio in Raleigh until his death on November 18, 1990.

Living room, Cecil J. Birtcher residence (Birtcher-Share House), Los Angeles, 1945. Architect: Harwell Hamilton Harris; furniture designer: Kem Weber. The Cecil Birtcher residence in Los Angeles is one of architect Harwell Hamilton Harris’s best- known works. In this 1945 photograph, Mr. and Mrs. Birtcher are seen lounging on built-in furniture that serves to separate the main public area of the home into living room, library, and dining room.

Maynard L. Parker, Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California

Source: neh.gov/divisions/preservation