Claude Oakland Design

Modern El Cerrito beauty was mid-century dream house for engineering great T.Y. Lin
Fridays on the Homefront
Designed with Eichler architect Claude Oakland, it's the world's first residence made of pre-stressed concrete. For 38 years home to the undisputed
engineering master of that material, T. Y. Lin, the El Cerrito residence is now on the market priced—for the first time—for $1.25M.
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Inside the Lin home's ballroom, where T.Y. and wife Margaret
used to host parties with lots of dancing, their favorite pastime.
Fridays on the Homefront
Lin home's designers: Claude Oakland (left), T.Y. Lin (right).

One of the most historic mid-century homes in the East Bay hit the market recently, offering a comparatively modest price tag, an Eichler connection, and a particular appeal for those who like to bust a move.

"You just won't see anything like this around," understates realtor Glen D. Bell, who listed the El Cerrito home—on the market for the first time ever—at $1.25 million.

What's more, the 4-bedroom, 3-bath home, at 8701 Don Carol Drive, was designed with Eichler architect Claude Oakland as the world's first residence made of pre-stressed concrete. For 38 years it was home to the undisputed engineering master of that material, T. Y. Lin.

"He's a heavyweight," said Bell, an agent for BHG Reliance Partners, and it's true. Lin is absolutely a great success story of the Bay and, as Bell said, "one of the greatest structural engineers of his time."

Tung Yen Lin and his bride, Margaret Kow Lin, were both children of supreme court justices in their native China. He was educated there and then at UC Berkeley, whose engineering department is the seller of the home designed by Lin and Eichler architect Claude Oakland.

Lin got his masters at Berkeley in 1933 and joined the faculty in 1946, eight years before founding TY Lin International in San Francisco. He and his firm engineered projects like the Moscone Convention Center, work on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and dozens of others, plus mostly public buildings across three continents.

Claude Oakland started his own architectural firm in 1960, and Lin hired him to help design this unique home built in 1965. The Louisiana native started with key Eichler architects Anshen and Allen, but Oakland himself ended up designing more of Joe Eichler's homes than anyone.

For the Lins, he designed a large, 4,317-square-foot home with a remarkable, 1,000-square-foot ballroom to accommodate his clients' favorite pastime of ballroom dancing.