From Susan Hartzler
James Morris, AIA, one of the original founders of what is now California’s prestigious The Warner Group Architects, was hardly a household name internationally. He was, however, an unlikely yet influential iconoclast. He dared challenge what was – and still is – the nearly sacred tradition of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture dominating residential and commercial design in Santa Barbara, California, and its affluent neighboring enclave, Montecito. Indeed, the two communities are known worldwide as much for red tile roofs and white stucco walls as they are for their high profile and high-net-worth residents and visitors.
James Morris was gifted with an eye for the mutual complementarity of design and location: a talent he shared with his 16th-century predecessor, Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Both architects created buildings with reference to their setting and utilizing simple mathematical formulas and spatial ratios. The results are classic structures of timeless and utilitarian design.
A singular example of Morris’s overarching talent, his pièce de résistance, is a private estate resting on approximately two beautifully landscaped acres in what is known as Montecito’s “Golden Quadrangle,” a coveted area of ultra-prestigious homes. Built in the early 1970s, the residence has undergone two meticulous renovations and combines elements of Modernism, Post-modernism, Neo-classicism and Art Deco. It is currently listed for sale by luxury Realtor Cristal Clarke of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties.
Clarke says, “The home is ‘iconic modernism’ and is distinguished as being the largest and finest of Morris’s modernist designs.” The home’s current owner adds, “Modernism is, today, the ‘de rigeur’ new wave in residential design. It’s the most desired new construction, commands premium pricing, and is getting stronger in all major cities coast-to-coast. Here in Montecito, however, James Morris was the visionary and trailblazer who introduced it – most notably in our home -- nearly 50 years ago.”
The residence maximizes all of Morris’s basic Palladian principles. There are subtle symmetries, and diverse roof heights allow ceilings to vary relative to room size. The home, built parallel to the ocean and at an ideal 600-foot elevation, allows unobstructed panoramic Pacific vistas over a verdant carpet of treetops.
The late James Morris would undoubtedly be proud of his creation which, even today, rivals the most awe-inspiring domiciles on California’s Central Coast, and can be considered one of the most distinctive luxury homes in all of North America.
See more at montecito-estate.com/lis...