Home that Celebrates Nature

Walter Thomas Brooks' 'Devere Pyramid' hits market—an East Bay sight to behold
Fridays on the Homefront
Architect Walter Thomas Brooks designed many homes in an individualistic, modern style that blended FLWright, California modernism, and his particular take on organic architecture. Above: Rear view of his Devere Pyramid in Berkeley, now up for sale. All house photos: courtesy Open Home Photography

If the awe-inspiring circular site plan of Eichler's Fairmeadow tract in Palo Alto boggles your mind, you'll be happy to know that the architect behind that design didn't stop there.

During a 50-plus year career that followed, architect Walter Thomas Brooks, from his Bay Area base, continued to amaze, particularly with his unique brand of organic architecture inspired by natural forms.

So it's a reason to celebrate whenever one of Brooks' private residences comes to market. Bring out the champagne—his Devere Pyramid house, an experimental design at 841 Contra Costa Avenue in Berkeley, is now for sale, priced at $1,495,000. It's a sight to behold.

Fridays on the Homefront

Custom designed by Brooks and built in 1968, the Devere, according to the architect's website, is "structured around just the simple pyramid." But its unique design is a standout, with drama to spare.

In the modern tradition, the architect utilized natural woods, such as redwood and cedar, to design an organic, open-plan home that brings the forest inside, blending nature and shelter.

A central feature of the 1,927-square-foot home is an enormous, luminescent skylight that radiates natural light throughout the open living area.

  Fridays on the Homefront
Walter Thomas Brooks in 2007. Above: His site plan design for Eichler's Fairmeadow tract of Palo Alto made the cover of Fortune, one of the nation's top business magazines, in 1955. Photo: David Toerge

"Everyone who walks in to this home walks in with their heads up in a sort of reverence, gazing almost as if to the top of a cathedral," comments listing agent Colleen Larkin of The Grubb Company.

Light streams in from five directions—from the skylight, through windows on each of the four sides, and onto an entire wall that opens out to the rear deck and garden.

"A gentleman from Napa came to see this house because he owns a similar petal house in Napa," Larkin adds. "He said that he wasn't looking for a pyramid petal house, but the minute he walked in and saw this house, he fell in love. That's what good architecture does!"

Fridays on the Homefront

The Devere Pyramid is located in the Thousand Oaks area of Berkeley and is served by the Berkeley school district. The Solano Avenue shopping district is nearby, along with the North Berkeley shopping area, and the ever-popular Gourmet Ghetto of creative restaurateurs in the North Shattuck section.

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