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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Case Study House #16 Redux

Craig and Bruce Walker didn't find out until a few years ago how important their father Rodney Walker was. To them, he had built some houses and made really good spaghetti. The elder Walker didn't talk much about his career. He never aspired to be an architect. Instead, he preferred to be called a designer-builder. He didn't keep records of what he had built...or where. It wasn't until 2001, when historians began to contact them for information, that they realized just how esteemed a place their father holds in the field of architecture.

Bruce, then a 58-year-old acoustical engineer, and his 52-year-old brother Craig, a secondary school teacher, decided it was time to do some detective work and find out more about their father's work. All they had to start with were memories of going to job sites with him and a few old photographs and magazine spreads.

As nearly as they were able to discover, their father built between 75 and 100 homes in Southern California. He also built a home in the San Francisco area for his sister. Three of Rodney Walker's designs were chosen for John Entenza's Case Study House program and became houses #16, #17 and #18. The brothers, who are both married and have grown children, decided to build replicas of Case Study House #16 for themselves as a tribute to their father. Bruce's home is in Camarillo, California, and Craig's is 20 miles away in Ojai, where the brothers also lived in the masterpiece residence their father built for the family in 1959.

The original Case Study House #16 was the first home Rodney Walker built for his family in 1946 at 9945 Beverly Grove Drive in Beverly Hills, California, and the brothers had visited it from time to time over the years. When they called the current owner to see if they could look at it again, they were shocked to learn that it had fallen into disrepair and had been demolished.

By chance, however, a project Rodney Walker had done in Louisville, Kentucky, came to light, and it turned out to be an identical construction of Case Study House #16. Luckily, the owner still had the plans Walker had left with her, and she was happy to share them with Walker's sons. They gave the plan, along with old photos, to an architect and a structural engineer who made slight variations to suit each brother's needs, and the two houses became a reality. Bruce and his wife Delores moved into their home in Camarillo in 2002, while Craig and his wife Debi moved into their Ojai home in 2006.


Original Case Study House #16

Exterior of Craig Walker's home in Ojai, California

Interior of Craig Walker's home in Ojai, California

Craig Walker's Ojai home


  1. I adore the look but could never keep my home so uncluttered!

  2. @DearHelenHartman: I have my doubts that anyone can keep a home that uncluttered, except when a photographer is coming over. I have a friend who has a super minimalist condo, and he says the only thing he dislikes about it is that even putting your mail and keys down on the counter makes the place look messy. Oh, how I wish all the clutter I had around my house were mail and keys!

  3. Well, the plan belongs to another CSH- the other no. 16 which was built in 1952 by Craig Ellwood.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out. I found that image while researching another site, and apparently they used the wrong set of plans. I looked back at the original article in Arts & Architecture and found the right plan and have removed the one posted in error.

      I've never been sure why the numbering of the Case Study Houses wasn't more straightforward. With no #14 and no #19 in the 1940s, then a Soriano simply called 1950, with numbering starting over in 1952 with #16-28 (and some lists referring to 17-21 A & B, but no 16B), it's no wonder people confuse them.