FYI: There was a good article about Claude Oakland and his career designing homes for Joseph Eichler in Saturday's S.F. Chronicle in the home and garden section (1/1/05). The article is called "Modern Homes for the Masses".
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times Magazine had an article about the restoration of a beautiful Jones designed house.
The article can be found at:
Ned Eichler's wife, Ava Eichler wrote an excellent letter clarifying some of the inaccuracies of the article:
The original article stated, "Oakland is said to have created the Eichler atrium, an open- air courtyard in the middle of the house." Ava Eichler refutes that claim.
Jeff, just to be clear, Ava was quoting her husband Ned in refuting the claim that Oakland was respondible for the first Eichler atrium designs. The full story is in Jerry Ditto's Eichler book. Oakland was working in the Anshen & Allen office as a draftsmen in the 1957-58 time period when Eichler introduced his first atrium designs. Whether Oakland came up with the idea or Anshen did is hard to say for sure, but Ned Eichler, who worked for his father at the time, says that Anshen did. And he's the only person who was involved with Eichler at that time who has gone on record on this subject. There may be others still alive who were part of the process, but so far I have not seen any statements from them on this subject.
As to what exactly is an "atrium" floor plan, that is a trickier question than one may imagine it to be. The definition of an "atrium" depends on who you want to quote. Go back to the Romans and you will learn that none of the 1950s Eichler "atrium" plans actually qualify as such. Also, many of the Eichler plans label the central area as a "courtyard". A review of 1956 and 1957 Eichler plans shows that many had such a a central courtyard but it doesn't seem like an atrium. The Eichler house to the right of the X-100 in the San Mateo Highlands was built in 1956 or 57 and it may be one of the very first atrium models. I live just down the street from it in a 1959 Eichler that is definitely considered an atrium model.