Cary House
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Architect Joseph Esherick
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Location Mill Valley, California   map
Date 1960   timeline
Building Type house
 Construction System wood frame
Climate mild temperate
Context suburban
Style San Francisco Bay Regional, Shingle Modern
Notes aka Carey House. Quietly sculptural combination of wood trellises over projecting deck.




Plan Drawing

Upper Plan Drawing

Lower Plan Drawing

Axonometric Drawing

Elevation Drawing

Section Drawing

Section Drawing

Site Plan Drawing

Rendering, exterior perspective
Plan Drawing, lower level
Plan Drawing, upper level

More drawings available on The GBC CD-ROM.

3D Model
3D Spatial Model (DesignWorkshop 3dmf)

Model Viewing Instructions
 Free 3D for the GBC
Discussion Cary House Commentary

" a fairly simple box, elaborated by the eyelashes and eyebrows of overhangs which soften the transition from the simple box to the bright light of the outside. There, I think, for the first time in several centuries, the windows came clearly to be seen not just as walls of glass as in earlier houses, nor as holes in solid walls, as in still earlier ones, but rather variously as chances to pick up light along a wall or floor or to look at a view through an opening shaded by trellises, each window responding to the special aspects of what lay beyond or the quality of entering light. The effects inside in three dimensions are far more complexly developed than they would have been in earlier Bay Area buildings, to get the pleasures of light on more surfaces. Not the extent of the space but the way the light falls in it is the key ennobling factor"

— Charles Moore from Sally Woodbridge, Ed. Bay Area Houses. p298.

The Creator's Words

"There is a new cult in architecture, for the most part subjective and trivial, that concerns itself only with aesthetics: beauty for beauty's sake, at all costs and no matter how arrived at. [In this category Esherick referred to an approach like Stone's or Yamasaki's, who he feels are moving absolutely in the wrong direction.] Beauty is a consequential thing, a product of solving problems correctly. It is unreal as the goal. Preoccupation with aesthetics leads to arbitrary design, to buildings which take a certain form because the designer 'likes the way it looks.' No successful architecture can be formulated on a generalized system of aesthetics; it must be based on a way of life. Nothing irritates me more than to hear people talk about noble materials—any material can be noble. Why anyone should think that marble is one bit better than concrete, or that red brick is more human, is something I have never been able to understand—although there probably is a point where you can say that people respond to red brick in a different manner than they respond to concrete. I am more interested in getting people to respond to the beauty of a sidewalk, or an asphalt street, than I am in getting them to understand the beauty of bricks or plants—I am notoriously unsuccessful in this respect."

— Joseph Esherick. from Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. p113-114.

Sources on Cary House

"Classic Home 040", by ArchitectureWeek, ArchitectureWeek No. 121, 2002.1113, pH1.

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. exterior perspective drawing, p33.   A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at

Paul Heyer. Architects on Architecture: New Directions in America. New York: Walker and Company, 1966. LC 66-22504. discussion, p113.

Hiroshi Misawa. "Cary's Residence", Japan Architect. March 1965. p81. drawing of west elevation, p81. drawing of east-west section, p82. drawing of north-south section, p82. drawing of main floor plan, p83. drawing of lower floor plan, p83. drawing of upper floor plan, p83.

Sally Woodbridge, ed. Bay Area Houses. Salt Lake City: Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 1988. ISBN 0-87905-306-2. NA 7235.C22S353. p298-300. — A wonderful classic book, sadly out of print, but you can request a search at

Kevin Matthews. The Great Buildings Collection on CD-ROM. Artifice, 2001. ISBN 0-9667098-4-5.— Available at  Find books about Cary House


Web Resources
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