September 2023

Craig Ellwood (Clarendon 22nd April 1922 - Pergine Valdarno 30th May 1992), the stage name of Jon Nelson Burke, Texan by birth and American by adoption, was one of the main innovators of mid-century Californian architecture. During his short career - he retired to live in Tuscany at the age of just 55, devoting himself entirely to painting - he stood out in the mid-1940s for his involvement in the Case Study Program, a highly avant-garde experimental programme promoted by John Entenza, editor of the magazine ‘Arts and Architecture’. This project enabled the industrial machinery used to fight the war to be converted for other purposes and also the construction of steel framed and glass houses in the Californian hills to accommodate hundreds of thousands of American soldiers returning from the war.

Craig Ellwood, Weekend House, San Luis Obispo, California, 1964-1968

Craig Ellwood,  Case Study House 16,  Bel Air, California, 1953

Craig Ellwood, Hunt House, Malibu, California, 1957

Ellwood built Case Study No. 16 (1952-53), No. 17 (1954-55) and No. 18 (1956-58), steel-framed and glass-framed bridge houses built out of prefabricated sections that matched the unevenness of the ground and could be built very quickly and cheaply in terms of materials and manpower. A man with an flamboyant personality, an extremely sophisticated ladies’ man who was passionate about both cars - he owned two yellow Ferraris - and gambling, he was a character who - despite being self-taught – left his mark on the history of mid-century architecture thanks to his structural elegance and economy of means - as Norman Foster pointed out – not to mention the extreme lightness and great elegance of his bridge buildings.

Craig Ellwood, Hoffman house Case Stdudy 17, Berly Hills, California, 1954-1955

Craig Ellwood,  Case Study House 18_B,  Berly Hills, California, 1956-1958

Craig Ellwood, Daphne house , Hillsborough, California,1960-1961

Craig Ellwood, Rosen House, Los Angeles, 1961-1963

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