'King of the Round House'

One of six circular houses by mid-century architect Leon Meyer is on East Bay market
Fridays On the Homefront
Mid-century architect Leon Meyer was infatuated with building round houses—and this one pictured here, in the Oakland hills, is on the market now. Photo: Liz Ruzby
Fridays On the Homefront
Fridays On the Homefront
Two interior shots of Meyer's 46 Melvin Court round house.
Photos: Liz Ruzby

Consider the noble circle, a shape revered in donuts, hula hoops, and pizza pies. But in modernist design—bastion of clean, straight lines—round is sometimes viewed as conventional—square, if you will.

But not in this case.

Mid-century architect Leon C. Meyer had no aversion to this simple shape of Euclidean geometry. According to at least one expert, this Oakland resident focused a good portion of his career on buildings with closed curves.

Meyer, though certainly obscure, was essentially the 'King Arthur of the Round House,' at least in mid-century East Bay. And one of his best is for sale and on open house Sunday in the Oakland hills.

"The rounds were really his main focus in the '70s," says Jonathan Taylor, one of the only people not related to the late architect of 46 Melvin Court who knows this. Taylor, whose design firm has offices in Oakland and New York, researched a monograph on Meyer for ten years before abandoning it for lack of interest from publishers.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom, listed at $674,000, is an amazing barrel-style construction that Meyer designed in variations throughout the Oakland hills, starting in the 1950s. Tackling land parcels others thought couldn't be developed, Taylor says the architect and his company, Meyer & Taylor (no relation) Modern Structures, "cracked the nut on building in the hills."

Current owner Aundra Tomlins says the capacity for effective, attractive "use of space" drew her to the 1,256-square-foot home in the Upper Oakmore neighborhood when she moved from an Eichler-style house in Orinda in 2011.