Architecture

Inside the Al Struckus house in Woodland Hills

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LA Observed photo

I got a chance on Saturday to visit the Al Struckus House, a distinctive circular design by architect Bruce Goff set amid the urban forest in the old Girard section of Woodland Hills. "The house is unlike any other," the LA Conservancy says. "A four-story-high central cylinder surrounded by five smaller connected cylinders clad in natural redwood, glass tiles, and undulating stucco. It is capped by a roof with skinny eaves like Popsicle sticks, and punctuated by four large, round windows resembling nothing so much as giant eyeballs." Goff, a modernist who also designed the Pavilion for Japanese Art at LACMA, designed the house for Rocketdyne engineer, woodworker, and art collector Al Struckus, but Goff died shortly after construction began in 1982. The job was completed by Struckus and architect Bart Prince over the following decade.

The current owners opened the house to the Southern California chapter of Docomomo, a national organization that celebrates the modern movement in architecture. Last weekend the chapter hosted Prince at LACMA to discuss his collaborations with Goff and other topics. The Struckus House has one major room on each level: the kitchen one flight up from the ground, then a bedroom, then a living room that feels like it's up in the treetops. There is distinctive, circular tile work throughout and a very cool swiveling front door with a circular window that Prince designed.

The neighborhood surrounding the Woodland Hills Country Club is one of my favorite enclaves in the Valley. It is thickly wooded with eucalyptus, pine and other non-native trees planted as part of a 1920s scheme to lure buyers to the hottest corner of the San Fernando Valley. The development was called Girard, after the colorful real estate subdivider who came up with the idea, and though his sales operation did not survive the Great Depression, Girard's shade trees and a colony of cabins on narrow windy streets south of Ventura Boulevard became the foundation of the postwar suburb of Woodland Hills.

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The front view. Photo by Judy Graeme.

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Swiveling front door. Photo by LA Observed.

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Open stairs connect the levels. Photo: Judy Graeme.

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Cantilevered deck off the kitchen. Photo by Docomomo Southern California.

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Tile pattern found in the home. Photo by Docomomo Southern California.


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