Bay Region Gem Showcased

AIA East Bay home tour spotlights a rare treat that's 'Roger Lee modern' at the core
Roger Lee modern
Roger Lee tour home: expanded but its spirit remains.
(photo: Bruce Damonte)

There are so many things to like about the 2014 edition of the annual home tour presented by the East Bay chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), set for Saturday August 9.

To start, the self-guided tour showcases six hand-picked homes in four cities, with six styles ranging from Craftsman bungalow to California ranch, from contemporary to mid-century modern.

Tour guests won't be traveling in the dark, however. There will be plenty of opportunity to learn and get questions answered. Each home will have not only an AIA docent to greet guests, but also (in five of the homes) the architect who designed the house, or at least the architect responsible for its current iteration.

"We want people to come in and actually learn," says Sidney Sweeney, executive director of AIA East Bay, "and ask a hard enough question that the docent says, 'I don't know, but the architect is right over there.'"

One influential architect who sadly won't be there was one of the foremost practitioners of the Bay Region style and has been called one of "the Bay Area's great forgotten architects." Roger Lee (1920-1981) was a local treasure, born in Oakland and schooled at Cal, and most of his 100-plus houses were built in Northern California.

One of them, a 1962 modernist home in north Berkeley, captured the fancy of Berkeley architect Joanne Koch of Koch Architects in 2000. By converting a carport and excavating a basement, she almost doubled the floor space in nearly the same footprint for the house she calls home.

Possibly more important to modernists, though, is this aspect described in AIA publicity: "Exterior spaces and connections to the landscape are a strong influence on the house design, with intimate gardens visible through most windows." Koch's remodel was completed this year.

The August 9 tour will be open from 10am to 4:30pm, and guests do their own driving and parking.

To get more information, see photos of the homes, and buy tickets, click here.