A Case Study Case Study

Meltdown, shmeltdown: If you've got a spare $14 million, you can have a genuine Case Study house, a Pacific Ocean view—and a 1990s mansion to boot.

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The latest Case Study House to come on the market is the Entenza Home (1949), designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen as Case Study No 9. It was originally built in Pacific Palisades, California, for editor John Entenza of Arts and Architecture magazine, which first commissioned all the Case Study houses in 1945.

The real estate listing for Case Study No. 9 is remarkable (and kind of bizarre) for the elephant in the room, which is the four-bedroom postmodern "estate" that now dominates the property—as well as the photos in the listing. Though it's touted in all the ad copy, the actual Case Study house peeks out from a corner of the photographs like a guest house for the new-ish mansion—which is exactly what it is. (It's rumored that the Eames/Saarinen design currently serves as a maid's quarters.)

The marginalizing of Case Study No. 9 reflects the changes in Pacific Palisades over the decades; there are four other Case Study houses hidden in this formerly sleepy, now ritzy L.A. neighborhood. It also illustrates a change in the way we think about houses: The Case Study homes were intended to be prototypes for middle-class suburban housing of the future. But until very recently, 2 bedrooms and 2 baths meant condo, not house. Maybe the real estate crash will cause us to reconsider the economics, if not the ethics, of thinking small.

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