Hyper About Hypars


Meet one of my favorite shapes, the hyperbolic paraboloid, also known as a hypar. It is shaped like a saddle and therefore is also sometimes referred to as a saddle surface. A perfect common example would be a Pringle's potato chip. In architecture, hyperbolic paraboloid geometry can be used to create a saddle roof. The hypar has been used a great deal in 19th and 20th century architecture, from Gaudi to Gehry.

There are a couple of examples of hypars here in Sacramento, but probably the most easily recognized hypars in town are located at the entrance of the Sacramento Zoo. The Zoo is located about 2.5 miles up the street from our Eichler Homes neighborhood. This is what the structures originally looked like:

I've researched these structures and discovered that they were designed by Rickey + Brooks, the same firm who designed our house. Rickey + Brooks were also involved in the making of Fairytale Town and also designed the William Land Golf clubhouse.

I've put together a Flickr gallery of hyperbolic paraboloid structures which include other Sacramento examples as well as Albert Frey's Palm Springs Tramway Gas Station, the Catalano House, and other architecturally significant MCM buildings. I've included examples of hypars on native buildings from Indonesia and Sulawesi (Toba Batak and Tongkonan), which strike me particularly as being similar to the Zoo structures.

Some of these structures, such as the Catalano House, have fallen victim to demolition. Per Joe Kunkel, who tried to save the Catalano House:
One by one, our country is losing its wonderful mid-20th century architectural designs, one after another, victims of a blind and unattentive public. A few get saved and preserved as monuments, like the Farnsworth House or the Kaufmann House or Fallingwater. But the vast majority get bulldozed and replaced with McMansions and parking lots. I cannot understand how or why this happens. But it does. Repeatedly.
Hyperbolic paraboloids from the mid-20th century in Sacramento are a rare and dying breed. Other remaining examples include a couple of surviving Orbit gas stations and Country Club Lanes.

I hope there is enough interest in the Sacramento region to preserve and maintain our historic Mid-Century Modern architecture, including the Zoo entrance hypars. They have been there for 50 years and are a landmark. As such, they are part of our collective memory and provide a distinct sense of place. They harken back to structures of distant lands and tribes and serve as a reminder that the animals also come from unique and far away places.

Blast from the past -- 1958 + 1961 Eichler Ads: Cabot's Ranch House Hues

Last night I was talking with other Sacramento Eichler Home owners and the subject regarding original exterior and interior stain colors was discussed. That reminded me there is an interest among Eichler Home owners in knowing more about the products that were originally used on their homes. In this spirit, I'd like to share the following vintage ads I found:

From House + Home, March 1958, Page 7.

Cabot's Stains were a semi-solid, oil-based product used on Eichler Home exteriors. They are still manufactured today in many colors.

 From House + Home, March 1958, Page 7.

"Cabot's Ranch House Hues - endorsements from leading builders such as Mr. Eichler are your assurance that with any Cabot product you get the finest quality, greatest economy, and longest life.

Cabot's Ranch House Hues
* cost only 1/2 as  much as paint
* won't crack, peel or blister
* are easy to apply and maintain
* give years of protection
* can be used on all types of wood -- siding, shingles and trim
* need no thinning -- no priming
* need no sanding -- no scraping

Choose from 18 modern colors -- many exclusive with Cabot including Alcazar Brown, Mariposa Redwood, Mimosa Yellow, Spruce Blue."

From House + Home, February 1961, Page 151

The Eichler Home in the advertisement above is a rare custom home in San Mateo and was designed by Pietro Belluschi, AIA. For more information regarding this home, please visit a great article written by Meredith L. Clausen for CA-Modern by the Eichler Network.

For more information regarding paint colors for your Eichler Home, including reconstructed color palette charts, please read Tanja Kern's well-researched article for for CA-Modern by the Eichler Network.

Streng Home Neighborhood Round-up



The question of where Streng Homes are located pops up enough that I decided do a round-up of Streng neighborhoods. As I understand it, Streng Brothers homes throughout the Sacramento region were designed by Carter Sparks. Occasionally I have encountered a custom-built Streng home, but I'm only going to talk about Streng neighborhoods in this post.

Here are some great Streng Home resources:

1) The Eichler Network has posted a great article by Dave Weinstein regarding the Streng Bros. which provides a comprehensive look at the history and scope of their work. Poke around the Network's site as they have a great deal of information regarding Streng neighborhoods.

2) Steve Streng has a real estate website full of interesting and important Streng Home information, including floor plans. He also lists many Streng Homes for resale in our area. Don't miss his site if you have an interest in Streng Bros. homes.

A more legible version of the Streng Carmichael neighborhoods map below (click to go to larger version), courtesy Modern Valley:

3) The Beam Guy also has a great deal of Streng Home information on his site and lists the following neighborhood areas: "Davis, Woodland, Elk Grove, Carmichael, Citrus Heights, Fair Oaks, Orangevale, Natomas, etc. Several of the more well known include River City Commons, Evergreen Commons, Shelfield Oaks, Willhagin Estates, Williamson Ranch, and South Overbrook."

4) Click on each of the highlighted links in item #3 above for more neighborhood-specific information online.

5) For some great pictures of Streng Homes in our region, I also suggest you check out the pictures posted by the Streng Bros. Flickr group.

6) Last but certainly not least, for an overview of post + beam construction homes including Streng Bros. homes and Carter Sparks custom homes, I recommend visiting an excellent local site, Modern Valley, by JW, our in-town expert on Streng and Sparks homes. For a truly in-depth look at custom homes specifically designed by Carter Sparks, visit Modern Valley's Informal Archive.

Announcing the first Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour

I've been a little busy with my friends, Kris Lannin Liang (who started the Mid-Century Sacramento page on Facebook) and Dane Henas recently. We've been planning this event.

The tour is still developing but will include several Eichler Homes designed by Jones + Emmons plus other homes and buildings designed by Sacramento area architects including: Carter Sparks, Leonard F. Starks, Rickey + Brooks, and other local builders and developers.

Please see the details at the Sacramento Mid-Century Modern Home Tour blog -- all updates and information regarding the tour from this point on will posted there.

We're really excited about this event and hope you will be too.

Another Sacramento Eichler Home for sale

Fresh on the market this weekend: a three bedroom, two bath Eichler Home built in 1955 on Oakridge Way. Open House today Saturday 2.6.10 from 1-3pm and tomorrow, Sunday 2.7.10 from 1-3pm.

Occasionally I find out about Mid-Century modern homes in the Sacramento region that are either for rent or for sale. I am not an agent nor am I affiliated with one. I am passing this information along as a public service to those who are interested and love MCM design and architecture as much as I do.

If you are looking for an agent who specializes in MCM homes here the the Sacramento region, I recommend Paloma Begin for further details regarding this home. Or you may find more information here.

Original Eichler Home cabinets, anyone?

While I'm working on intensive research and other Big Plans, thought I'd pass along these beauties (click on pix for direct links) -- reportedly straight from the "Original Model home" here in South Land Park Hills.

Per Schiff's Estate Sales in Sacramento, "These are original Eichler Kitchen Cabinets. They came out of the Original Model Home for Eichler in South Land Park, CA. There is an 18" built in cutting board and an opening of 26 13/16" for a sink. The counter top is formica. Measures: Bottom Cabinet 36 1/2" tall, 25" deep, 95 1/2" wide. Upper Cabinet 24" tall, 13 3/4 deep, 87" wide."

The matching tall cabinet/storage pantry from the same home is also for sale and measures: 80" tall, 13 5/16" deep, 45" wide.

I really love the multi-tone colors and that these are the real thing! Anyone looking to undo a bad remodel or re-authenticate their Eichler Home kitchen?