Thorne was the last living contributor to the Case Study Houses program, a series of modernist designs commissioned by Art & Architecture magazine. The program, which asked progressive architects to design inexpensive steel-and-glass homes, aimed to show Modernist architecture could be both affordable and attainable, and helped popularize the style in the postwar era.
Thorne’s contribution, the Harrison House, built on a hillside in San Rafael, California, in 1963, was No. 26 in the program, which also featured iconic homes such as the Stahl House. Archilogic offers a virtual tour of Thorne’s design.
Thorne may be most famous for the homes he designed for jazz musician Dave Brubeck and his wife Iola in Oakland and Connecticut. The Bay Area design, a tree house-esque structure nicknamed the “House in the Sky,” was often a backdrop for interviews with the performer and composer.
Thorne went to school at UC Berkeley, graduating in 1950, and spent a brief time working for Bay Area architect Roger Lee, during which time he designed the Brubeck house. After starting his own practice in 1954, he was flooded with attention due his work for the jazzman, and began limiting his work, even changing his professional name from David to Beverley. He would later design a number of homes in Hawaii in the ‘80s.