Nicknamed the “Tree House” for the giant conifer tree that rises between the beams of its front entryway, the Cox House is a striking Mid-Century Modern residence that literally embraces the natural environment. Designed by local architect John Galbraith in 1959, the residence is a wonderful example of the interpretation and evolution of modernism in Southern California.
The Cox House draws from the Miesian tradition of architecture, which uses simple geometric forms to emphasize horizontality and transparency. The building is a simple, one-story pavilion, with alternating expanses of glass and stone exterior walls. One long, horizontal beam stretches across the entire front façade at the roofline, while individual bays step backward and forward, creating a strong visual rhythm. Rooms lined with floor-to-ceiling windows stand adjacent to recessed patios, blurring the relationship between indoor and outdoor space – a hallmark of California modernism.
Educated at the University of Washington, Seattle, John Galbraith was a Pasadena-based architect who designed a number of institutional, commercial and residential buildings. The Cox House is one of his finest designs and a small gem in South Pasadena’s Arroyo, celebrating European architectural traditions while creating something entirely regional with its natural materials and forms.