Although Calvin Straub originally designed 725 Burleigh Drive to be his own personal residence, the noted midcentury architect never actually lived in the home. Instead of moving into the home in 1957, Straub, the former dean of Architecture at USC, helped form the famous partnership of Buff, Straub, and Hensman—a firm responsible for many classic post-and-beam homes across California, including Case Study House No.20, a design which cemented their place in Los Angeles Modernist history.
Last year, the Pasadena home was purchased by HabHouse, a Los Angeles design and development firm. Andreas Larsson, the firm's co-owner and designer, had first noticed the property years ago when walking his dog through the neighborhood. The house sat empty for a decade, and although Larsson didn't know who had designed it, he always knew the home was something special. When it finally listed, Larsson and Mike Landry (the other co-owner of HabHouse) jumped on the chance to buy it. The icing on the cake: "After a trip to the permit office, we discovered that it was actually designed by Calvin Straub," says Larsson.
Unfortunately, the house had undergone an unsympathetic renovation in 2008 that changed the roofline and removed some of the authentic midcentury details. This meant that HabHouse needed to start from scratch in order to bring the home back to the way Straub had designed it. The process started with Larsson making a visit to Arizona State University to research Straub's archives and "determine exactly how the house needed to be put back together."
"My intention with this project was not just to restore the original design, but also to make it livable for the modern person. This lost piece of architecture needed to be saved." Andreas Larsson
The firm renovated absolutely every surface in the house. The kitchen is completely new; however, it was designed according to its original footprint. The materials were chosen in accordance with HabHouse's research, which revealed that Straub used vertical grain Douglas Fir cabinetry in most of his projects. "We made some modern modifications to the kitchen, but stayed true to the intended design and feel," says Larsson. Both bathrooms were also modernized and updated in a manner that was respectful to the original design.
The original color study of the house was revealed to be an earthy mix of browns, grays, and greens. In Larsson's color research, he visited several houses designed by Straub. The homeowners were incredibly helpful, assisting him with his discovery of Straub's color vision. The home's current colors are inspired by Straub's 1957 commission, The Thompson House on Poppy Peak St. in Pasadena. "This color combination helps the house appear more integrated into its natural environment, per Straub's organic architectural philosophy," says Larsson.
Ultimately, the project was a huge undertaking that took an entire year to complete. "To build a true 1957 post and beam home with current 2019 building codes presents a massive challenge. We constantly had to be creative in our structural solutions to respect its original design and still meet code," they share. A true labor of love, and one that yielded spectacular results.
725 Burleigh DrivePasadena is currently listed for $2,088,888 by Michelle St. Clair and Joey Kiralla of Sotheby's International Realty.
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