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Robert Berger House, San Anselmo, California, 1950-1957


The Robert Berger house floor plan  is shown below.  This is a photograph I made in 1958 of  the floor plan drawing for the Berger house created by Frank Lloyd Wright and his Apprentices. This floor plan is based upon a diamond module unit system where the angles are 60 and 120 degrees.  The kind of "fin" that extends out from the main structure  of the living room and kitchen area  facing the bottom of the page below would come to a point of 60 degrees. The "corners" of the living area are 120 degrees, not the 90 degree corner of the typical box house.

A core kitchen hexagonal shape  extends above the roof and opens into the living room at one point.  Note that the floor plan shown below is only the First Unit of the Berger house.  It has only one bedroom.  You can see the dotted lines of the hexagonal-shaped roof which hovers above the central stack and the living area. 

Below: Berger house at start of construction

Hawaiian Sunset

The very beginning of work on the Robert Berger house is shown in the photo above. You can see the rugged nature of the San Anselmo hills. The part of the house that is being started here is the central kitchen core stack that will rise above the roof line.

Although this photo does not show enough of the site to tell, the house was placed by Wright on the slope, not on the highest point of Berger's hill.

The "fin" that extends out from the central kitchen-living area is seen here, which adds to the"fortress" look of the house. The house looks like it was built to withstand calamities of nature as well as attacks from gangs in very hard times.

Robert Berger sent me this photo, as well as the one showing the beginning of construction, in 1957, along with a letter describing his experiences in building this Frank Lloyd Wright diamond module "fort" in the San Anselmo hills. Probably Berger took these photos himself

Sample Photo 10

The color photo above shows the central kitchen-living area from a slightly different viewpoint, and again the "fin" extending out from that area is shown.

The house sits on the slope, but not at the very top of it.

The reddish-brown stones of the Berger house were not laid on top of one another and held by mortar as in more conventional stonework. Instead, forms were placed so that a space was left for the width of the wall - and rocks were placed aginst the forms so that they would show when the concrete was poured in to hold them in place. Probably, steel rods were placed at intervals within the walls

And, most likely, the walls were built in vertical sections, and not created in their full height at one time. Working with vertical sections, each of a few feet in height, would have enabled Berger to select the rocks he wanted to show on the outside of the finished walls. Apparently, he did cut a lot of rock.

This is the system Wright worked out for the bottom part of the walls of Taliesin West, in Arizona. The photo above was taken by Bruce Radde, in 1958 or 1959, and given to me.