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Maynard Parker view of hills

architect's drawing


The House


In 1939, Havens was living in the Coxhead-designed Rieber House at 15 Canyon Road. But he wanted something altogether different: a house that would take maximum advantage of the glorious view. And he had other requirements: walls that should be either books or glass; a spiral stair; a pass-through between kitchen and dining room; and a map of the world. The architect delivered just that. In 1944, Harris described the design for a House Beautiful article devoted exclusively to this house:

The ceiling of each room is tipped up to increase the vertical view and include a larger slice of the sky, which in this area is filled with ever-changing patterns of clouds sweeping across the Golden Gate toward the house and disappearing toward the hills behind the house. The view is no mere segment of something seen through a hole. Rather it is an extension of the sky, the water, the hills. Because the house has no visible connection with the ground, a soaring effect is produced by the rising ceilings. It is a sky house, more than an earth house.

Built on a 35-degree slope and hidden behind a seven-foot high redwood fence, the house is divided into two volumes. The small east wing, comprising a 742-foot carport with maid’s quarters below, hugs the hillside. A sunken courtyard separates it from the two-story main building to the west, which is approached via a dramatic covered bridge. Standing free of the slope, the house faces open space on all sides. Inverted roof gables maximize both natural illumination and views.

The main (upper) floor of the dwelling includes living and dining rooms, kitchen, and a guestroom. Like the exterior, the interior walls, cabinetry, and doors are made of redwood. In the public rooms, note the lively contrast between inner and outer walls. Along the east wall, the ceiling is only seven-feet high. Here the warm colors of redwood bookshelves, brick hearth, books and furniture bestow an intimate atmosphere. In contrast, the western wall is all glass, extending the living space toward the view by way of a wraparound balcony, where the eaves are 15-feet high. In the dining room, the east wall displays a world map mural painted by Patricia Fudger, a family friend. The middle panels of this mural open to reveal a pass-through to the kitchen, which retains its original cabinetry.

Source: Daniella Thompson, from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association 2005 House Tour guidebook, Panoramic Hill.

> link to Berkeley Architectural Heritage site