Ahh, Joseph Eichler. For those who love midcentury design, the California developer and 1950s modern home evangelist's name is enough to inspire a starry eyed reaction. For healthcare exec Adam Banks, a midcentury modern enthusiast looking to build a single-story home for his young family based on Eichler plans (OJ-04, to be precise), the potential for a gorgeous end result has outweighed the challenges Banks and his architect, Sean Kennedy of Millerton, New York-based firm Allee Architecture + Design, have faced.
For one, there's the issue of adapting an Eichler design—meant for California's temperate, sunny climes—for the volatile weather of the northeast. Eichler's homes weren't insulated, for example, a no-go in the northern New York town of Copake Lake (about 120 miles north of Manhattan), where Banks is building his home on a hillside site.
"For two years, I'd been hunting for a midcentury house [here], but they're very hard to find," Banks explains, when asked how he decided on an Eichler design for his new-build home. "You just don't come by them frequently. And when one does come up, it's not necessarily where you want it to be."
So, what exactly is it about Eichler's designs, specifically?
Banks points to Eichler's creations—which were designed in collaboration with architects like Robert Anshen of Anshen and Allen—as cream-of-the-crop examples of midcentury residential design: "Pitched, wood ceilings, wood-paneled walls, open spaces with lots of glass…" Banks waxes. And "in the last 25 years, residential design has really closed itself off to nature," he adds. Not so in a midcentury house, in Banks's estimation: Clean, clear sight lines from indoors to out help residents feel like nature isn't too far away.
As the process continues, Banks balances his love of Eichler's original plans with changes necessitated by adjusting for modern building codes and New York weather.
There's also a matter he hopes you—the reader!—can help with: Banks and Kennedy are choosing among three cladding types, pictured below. Vertical cladding was Eichler's m.o., Banks notes, but horizontal cladding is all the rage these days. What do you think? Vote in the poll below (you can expand the images by clicking on them) and watch this space for an update and more stories tracking the building process. You can also take a peek over at Banks's blog, East Coast Eichler.
∙ Joseph Eichler coverage [Curbed]