Video Series Visits Great Modern Homes

Jason Vera Cruz
Through 'Open Space' we meet passionate homeowners, including Jason Vera Cruz, seen in his Eichler home. Screen shot, cinematography by Mick Aure

Avid fans of Eichler and other modern homes are known to travel widely to visit gems when they come on the market and have open houses, or when they are part of an organized home tour. While you’re waiting for the next such opportunity, consider this interim measure: a series of online video visits dubbed ‘Open Space.’

These are short, five or 10 minute or so video visits to Eichlers and other modern homes that focus as much on the people who own and love and restore them as on the architecture itself.

“They're very passionate, and they feel like they're the caretakers, right? They're really taking care of the house, maintaining the real architecture, and the architect’s vision from when the house was built,” says Elias Tebache, the young man behind the series.

“I mean, people are what really make the architecture live, right?"

Through the video series we get to know the homeowners a bit, learning that Jason Vera Cruz was a car collector and restorer before restoring his Eichler home. Screen shot, cinematography by Mick Aure

“As much as architecture is very beautiful to look at, I think the story behind it, sometimes it speaks a little bit louder.”

Among the 11 home visits on the site, at the time of this writing, a conversation with Jason Vera Cruz at his Balboa Heights Eichler in Los Angeles reveals the story of a couple who fall in love with an Eichler that is crying out in need.

“We bought the house, and we started work as soon as we got the key,” Jason Vera Cruz tells Tebache, while the camera lovingly travels through his beautiful Eichler home.

Cinematography is by Mick Aure, who, like Tebache and the other people behind ‘’Open Space,’ do this work as volunteers because of their love of architecture, Tebache says. Sound is by Alphafox and still photography for the series is by Gage Bantiles

'Open Space' also takes us into this wonderful Eichler in the Orange tract of Fairmeadow. Photo by Gage Bantiles.

The Los Angeles Eichler had been highly altered and given a Spanish look. Vera Cruz and his wife did much of the restoration themselves. “I don’t have $200,000,” he told Tebache, “but I have two hands.”

In another episode, Tebache and Aure visit an Eichler in the Fairmeadow Tract in the city of Orange and meet a couple, “Brian and Missi from Birds of Ohio,” originally from Ohio, who run a company that focuses on the creative use of textiles in the fashion industry.

When they bought the house, Missi tells Tebache, they loved it – despite orange and purple walls and other such off-kilter design choices. Spending their first night in the home, on an air mattress, Missi fretted with worry, “What did we do!?”

Tebache explains why he has included Eichlers in the series:

“I think what Joseph Eichler did was phenomenal. I don't know anybody else that had such a big impact on development architecture around that period of time. He did amazing work, work with some amazing architects.”

Frank Lloyd Wright's Ablin home remains in the hands of the family that commissioned it and has been treated with loving care. Photo by Gage Bantiles.

Tebache, who works in real estate, says he does the series out of love for architecture, not to make a buck. His work on the series is unrelated to his career, though this profession facilitates access to homeowners. He reaches out to potential owners via social media.

So far the series has stuck to Southern California, though he plans to spread out geographically, to the Pacific Northwest, Northern California, perhaps beyond.

Other visits take us to a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Bakersfield, the Ablin house, built from 1958 to 1960.

Original owner Millie Ablin convinced Wright to design the home. David Coffey, who leads us through the home, talks about how great architecture requires “great clients…who had the understanding that Wright was a master.”

And for great architecture to remain intact, that understanding has to continue. As Coffey says, “It only takes one bad owner to destroy it.”

An early house by John Lautner has profoundly affected the life of its longtime owner. Screen shot, cinematography by Mick Aure

The home remains in the possession off the Ablin family. According to ‘Open Space,’ “the current owner alongside David Coffey plan to create a foundation for the home to maintain, preserve, and educate the community for decades to come.”

The owner of the Tyler residence, an early 1950s Los Angeles home by architect John Lautner, described by Tebache as a “mesmerizing sight from the street below,” with “a cantilevered living space with walls of glass and wood paneling set amongst the backdrop of greenery,” preserved the house for generations to come through a complete restoration.

“Living in a piece of architecture like this has made a profound impact on my life,” owner Peter Tangen says. “Every day that I spend in this house reveals something new or reminds me of something of value. It makes me value each moment. It reminds me of the spirit of creativity that is part of all of us.”

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