Allyn E. Morris is one of Los Angeles' lesser-known modernists, but his residential designs are among the most innovative and transcendent of any in the city.
Trained as a mechanical engineer before he turned to architecture, Morris delighted in using bare structural elements to create unique and vibrant living spaces. He was influenced not just by his engineering background but by his work with Frank Lloyd Wright, Calvin Straub, and Lloyd Wright, and was particularly enamored of R. M. Schindler's free-flowing designs.
Morris built this Silver Lake home and studio for himself in 1958 and resided there for just a few years before moving out; originally conceived as a bachelor pad/24-hour workspace, the building became less functional when Morris married and had a son. Only a simple brick carport is visible from the street, but as the building steps down the slope below, it opens into a three-story glass box with spectacular red-painted steel beams and a red spiral staircase.
Dixieland jazz aficionado Morris used a two foot by four foot module in the building's design, claiming it provided a steady rhythm that held the beat of the house together.
The building's rear façade, which boasts an unobstructed view of the San Gabriel Mountains, is made of enormous double-hung windows that can be opened by hand with the help of huge yellow counterweights on bicycle chains.
The Morris studio is the perfect melding of industrial engineering principles and the more organic, subtle concepts of space and flow espoused by architects like Wright and Schindler. Few Modern designs can match it for sheer dynamism and charisma.