Architect Aaron G. Green’s mid-century masterpiece draws interest in Palos Verdes
Perched high above the Pacific along the Palos Verdes cliffs, a renowned mid-century architectural masterpiece will be raffled in conjunction with a landmark exhibition.
Written by Suzanna Cullen Hamilton | Photographed by Lance Gerber
Long regarded for incredible ocean vistas, horse trails and a placid lifestyle, Palos Verdes is often overlooked for the rich mid-century architectural gems nestled among the hills. The opening of the Aaron G. Green and California Organic Architecture exhibit at the Palos Verdes Art Center (PVAC) profiles a renowned mid-20th century architect while concurrently promoting the raffle of one of his organic homes tucked into the cliffs of Palos Verdes.
“Curated by Alan Hess, this is the fourth scholarly exhibition at the PVAC and the first in Southern California on Green, and the PVAC shows bring national acclaim by reaching new audiences,” says Scott Andrews, communications director of the PVAC.
“Organic architecture” is a term coined by Frank Lloyd Wright that describes his philosophy that “form and function are one.” Tenets of this philosophy include the idea that architecture should be environmentally integrated and evolve from the site while also having an interrelated composition in both interior and exterior design. As a result, building materials indigenous to the site area, lines that follow the geography and built-in furnishings are hallmarks of this design style.
Aaron G. Green was an internationally renowned architect whose career began as an assistant to Frank Lloyd Wright and continued for more than 60 years while developing a portfolio that included residential, commercial, industrial, municipal, religious and urban designs. Green was born in Mississippi in 1917 and received his architecture degree from The Cooper Union—a most prestigious architecture and art school. After working for Wright as an apprentice in the Taliesin Fellowship, Green continued working with him for more than 20 years both as an employee and through their joint projects via Taliesin Associated Architects.
Green maintained offices in both San Francisco and Los Angeles and designed his own projects separate from those with Wright. In 1959 he designed the Anderson Residence in Rancho Palos Verdes, and it remains a textbook example of organic architecture. With an emphasis on local materials and embodying a Japanese aesthetic, the house follows the lines of the rugged Palos Verdes cliffs.
Remarkably, the house remains in pristine condition—both in terms of architecture and interior furnishings. Nationally renowned photographer Maynard Parker took photos of the Anderson Residence soon after its completion, and those photos now reside in the permanent collection of The Huntington Library. When the house was photographed in 2016 by Lance Gerber, it proved that very little has changed since the house was built and it’s been well-preserved.
The sharply gabled roof is anchored by a massive stone fireplace, while exquisite redwood walls and cabinetry are constructed to furniture-grade standards. Dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows offer spectacular panoramic ocean views. The open floor plan flows throughout the interior and spills onto the pool terrace, where the area visually drops off into the ocean–a fluid creation designed long before today’s “infinity” pools. The elongated, pentagon-shaped pool subtly mimics the rooflines of each wing that frames it.
The interior furnishings of the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home are minimal in number but maximal in luxury. Built-in sofas with a pair of striking Japanese gilt-and paint-decorated screens above each anchor the living room. The master bedroom cabinetry is of the same caliber as the kitchen furniture-grade cabinetry, and both are plentiful but not distracting from the views. Each room opens to the outside, so the flow of light and air is as fluid as the floorplan itself.
“The emphasis is on the relationship between the inside and the outside and softening the border,” says Andrews.
As part of annual fundraising, the Palos Verdes Art Center will raffle the Anderson Residence as the grand prize of the 2017 Palos Verdes Dream House Raffle. The sale of 77,000 raffle tickets permits the PVAC to expand educational and outreach programming while also providing architectural and artistic education through the interest generated about the house.
“The exhibition and raffle are about the emphasis of scholarly work on important architecture—not just about selling real estate,” says Andrews.
Founded in 1931, the Palos Verdes Art Center is a multifaceted organization that strives to engage and educate people about all areas of the arts. Exhibition, education and outreach programs continue to expand at the center. The Studio School offers a multitude of classes for all ages and ability levels, while the gift shop features sophisticated, artist-made wares of many mediums.
Each year the PVAC strives to bring nationally renowned creators to broad audiences. The integration of an educational exhibit with a period, authentic home as a raffle creates a tangible experience that both teaches and engages. The PVAC has elevated Palos Verdes to new heights with the Aaron G. Green and California Organic Architecture exhibit and the raffle of the Anderson Residence.
The house will be raffled on Saturday, May 6 at 5:30 p.m. at the PVAC. Ticket information may be found at pvartcenter.org
Back to school already? We’re just getting into our summer groove. Nonetheless, many South Bay college students are packing the books and comforters before driving or flying to campus dorms all over the country, some for the very first time. We asked a handful of local collegiate types what they miss most about the South Bay when miles away from home.