More George

Clint Eastwood in 1978 at the redwood bridgetimber house designed for him by George Brook-Kothlow. Photo by John Bryson for TIME mag.

Through the end of the month, I’m continuing my tribute to the late George Brook-Kothlow [please see my previous entries on George below], and this past weekend I went up the coast to photograph more of the houses. While I’ll be presenting these buildings as part of an in-depth slideshow of the work at George’s upcoming memorial, here, in the meantime, is a sneak peak. I should note that for the last few years I’d been after him to publish a book of his work. Now, I’m happy to report, we’re looking closely at taking steps to make it happen. If you collaborated with George and have stories to share, please contact me via my website:  www.richardolsen.org

The 1975 Kemnitz House in Big Sur, a Douglas fir heavy-timber design by George Brook-Kothlow. Photo by Richard Olsen

The Coker Studio, as seen from the highway. Photo by Richard Olsen

The Staude House. Photo by Richard Olsen

In my last blog, I alluded to George’s work from the 1980s—specifically the transition away from bridgetimber construction that he had to make in order to keep up with the trends.  Here’s one of those 1980s projects, a spectacular house in Pebble Beach, a project that shows just how far this designer could stretch creatively.

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect.  On the street-facing side, the house enjoys a generous set-back and has lush gardens. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect.  The stucco-and-copper front elevation. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect. Off the front entrance is the grand stair, all done with plaster, brass, glass, and marble. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect. The second-floor landing. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect. The first-floor living room. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect. A bath on the second floor. Photo by Richard Olsen

A Pebble Beach house, built ca. 1986, by George Brook-Kothlow, architect. A guest bedroom. Photo by Richard Olsen

Lastly, here’s a look at a house in Carmel that George completed in 2011.

A 2011 house in Carmel, California. George Brook-Kothlow, architect. Photo by Richard Olsen

A 2011 house in Carmel, California. George Brook-Kothlow, architect. Photo by Richard Olsen

A 2011 house in Carmel, California. George Brook-Kothlow, architect. Photo by Richard Olsen

 

 

Sticks-and-Stones Organic: The Coker Studio / George Brook-Kothlow, Architect; Daniels & House, Builder. Circa 1971, California Coast.

In 1971, a year before the California Coastal Commission’s founding, legendary cartoonist Paul Coker, known for his long association with Mad magazine, commissioned an ecologically concerned live/work studio for himself, to be built on a rugged and wind-and-surf-blasted promontory in Big Sur.

Coker’s circumstances at the time required that the house be finished in only two months. His architect, Carmel Valley’s George Brook-Kothlow, working with Daniels & House Construction, of Monterey, delivered. The result is one of the most poetically quiet buildings I’ve seen on the coast.

With its humble timberframe form (the columns are reclaimed redwood bridge timbers) and sod-covered roof canted to the slope of the site, Coker Studio suggests a sticks-and-stones kind of architecture, a complete Organicism—timeless and free of pretension. The house manages to be exactly what the site demands of it: a warm, cozy, and soulful safe haven from the frequently harsh elements; a crafted building that asserts a certain rootedness to the earth without ever showing anything but absolute deference to nature’s strength and beauty.

It’s only as big as it needs to be. The ground floor holds a small living room with oversize fireplace, a galley kitchen, a bath, and space-maximizing built-in storage areas. A loft bedroom, situated to embrace the warmth of the chimney, completes the 700-square-foot floor plan. The floors are radiant-heat exposed-aggregate concrete—toastiness under your bare feet.

Recently, the very private current owners allowed me to visit and take some quick snapshots. Big thanks and appreciation to them for letting me share this with you.

 

 

For more information on the architecture of George Brook-Kothlow, click here to see/purchase Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home Design.