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A note on preservation



"There was a man who lived in a square house in a round meadow." Charles Moore used to cite this line as inspiration for the tiny home he built in Orinda, California, in 1961 and 1962. The house and lot (!) cost about $10,000 to build. The house was 625 square feet, about 25x25. The meadow was round. The inspiration was from a Japanese poet, something said centuries ago.

A few years ago, I put together a talk on mid-century modern architecture, and started with Moore's Orinda House. I had seen Moore speak of it twice, visited it myself in the 1990's, and also read of it in Moore's fine book The Place of Houses.

And I also tried to find out if anything had happened to it since I had seen it. Sure enough--a complete travesty.



That should be a felony, should it not?

I might also add for the architectural record that once when I saw Moore speak of Orinda--which he often tried to pass off as the origin of postmodern architectural thinking, or at leas of his own such thoughts--he spoke of that baby grand piano in the sliding glass door. "It was sort of, well, you are probably too young to remember this ad for Smirnoff Vodka, with Noel Coward holding a bottle of the stuff, standing barefoot on some rocks on a breakwater. 'Smirnoff on the rocks,' the ad copy said. That grand piano in that window, so ostentatious in that little house--well, that was like Noel Coward, Smirnoff on the rocks."

For that anecdote alone, the house should have endured intact through the ages. Let us do better.