Oscar Niemeyer, the Modernist architect who designed the government buildings of Brasilia and helped to design the United Nations in New York, died of respiratory failure today in Rio de Janeiro. Though renowned internationally, the only home he designed in the United States was the Strick House on La Mesa Drive in Santa Monica. The architect, at times out of favor due to his Communist Party membership, never saw the constructed home, says Nicholas Ouroussoff in the New York Times obituary.
Joseph Giovannini wrote in Architectural Digest in 2005:
Despite his global fame, the Santa Monica house he designed in 1963 was hardly known even to Southern California’s Nikon-strapped aficionados of midcentury modernism.
Sited on a bluff overlooking a golf course and the Santa Monica Mountains, the expansive one-story house, with a 14-foot-tall glass-walled living room, gradually became destabilized by seismic shifts in land values. Several years ago a developer bought the 4,600-square-foot house, planning to raze it to build one twice the size. The application for a demolition permit finally triggered the attention of the landmarks commission, which issued a stay of execution, putting the preservation community on alert.
The architect, now 97 and still practicing in Rio, had designed the house for Anne and Joseph Strick, who admired what Anne Strick calls his “high-flying, imaginative architecture.” The couple and Niemeyer agreed on a scheme, based on a T-shape plan. “We were very specific about details—a high ceiling in the public spaces, low in the private and level changes in the living area,” she recalls.
Photo of Strick house: Martin Schall/You-are-here.com