The Shoreline House

A nice modern hut on the beach

architectural illustration Shoreline House Smith Williams watercolor
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Above: Architectural illustration created by Al Smith of the Shoreline House designed by Smith and Williams, 1957. 

With projects located primarily in Southern California, architects Smith and Williams were influential in shaping the modern vocabulary of Post-World War II American architecture. Benefiting greatly from the postwar building boom, partners Wayne Williams and Whitney Smith had a practical approach to Modernism with a keen sense of blending interior and exterior spaces.

One of the more unusual projects created by Smith and Williams was the Shoreline House for the Orange County Home Show in 1957. The house, built around a central courtyard, was designed primarily to be a vacation or beach house, but could also be used as a principle residence. With exterior walls of translucent glass, perforated metal panels and multiple planes, the overall effect of the house was one a structural collage with controlled, diffused light.

One interesting fact about Smith and Williams’ Shoreline House is the courtyard fireplace. The orange ‘Firehood’, designed by Wendell Lovett, may be the first one ever installed into a home (albeit a show home). Lovett would not commercially market the ‘Firehood’ until a few years later in the early 1960’s which went on to become an icon of 1960’s American Modernism.

The following is an excerpt from the Art & Architecture Magazine, “Translucent glass for the exterior walls gives control of light and view, cutting lighting transmission without changing colors and precluding the need for many draperies. Clear glass is used for the fixed and sliding walls around the central court. The use of vaulted forms of perforated metal armor-weave over the court gives the open area the feeling of a bath house.”

Shoreline House at the 1957 Orange County Home Show, Costa Mesa, California. Unless otherwise stated all photos are by Julius Shulman. Click on image for full view.