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Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia
by Cory Buckner

Cooperative Modern edens advertising Southern California Living—Baldwin Hills Village/Village Green, Channel Heights Housing, Community Homes, Avenel Cooperative, Broadacre, Eichler, to name a few—are widely chronicled by historians, coveted by Modernists, and too often mourned by preservationists.

Author and architect Cory Buckner tells the story of the optimistic Crestwood Hills, a Brentwood community conceived in 1947 by four musicians who founded the Mutual Housing Association (MHA), which sold plots for 500 homes. Buckner is known from her previous bookA. Quincy Jones(Phaidon Press, 2002), the Modern master’s first monograph. This book and community are very personal to Buckner. She had restored two Crestwood Hills homes prior to moving there, and went on to work on seven more, including her own that she restored with her late husband Nick Roberts, AIA.

The first part of the book beautifully presents the history, process, and challenges of the development. Architects Whitney R. Smith and A. Quincy Jones, FAIA, engineer Edgardo Contini, and landscape architect Garret Eckbo created multiple house plan options for the Modern community. The second part of the book reviews and describes individual homes with archival and current photography. Restoration architects are noted, but stating the date would have been helpful. Also included are “infill houses,” those built after MHA disbanded, and designed by Ray Kappe, FAIA, Craig Ellwood, Rodney Walker, and Richard Neutra, FAIA.

“Despite virulent opposition from local authorities all the way up to the Federal government, Crestwood Hills was built as conceived: people lived in architecturally significant structures, and people continue to live in those homes in the twenty-first century,” says Buckner in the introduction. A mere 47 of the original homes remain extant, with 18 of them declared—with Buckner’s help—City of LA Historic-Cultural Monuments.

Angel City Press; 176 pages; softcover; $35

 

 

 

 
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