13 August 2006

Harris Allen: the spirit of individuality

Griffith house, 2830 Russell St., 1919 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

Architect Harris C. Allen (1876–1960) had no cookie cutters in his professional toolbox. No two of his buildings looked alike—each was designed for its particular site and stamped with the owner’s individuality.

Yet Allen was hardly the Zelig of architecture. All his buildings are marked with strong personalities and demonstrate, through many fine details, their designer’s enlightened sensibility to “patterns” (in Christopher Alexander’s term) that make a building livable.

Between 1901 and 1926, Allen designed 22 houses in Berkeley. Most of them are still standing. The article Harris Allen: the spirit of individuality will take you on a pictorial tour of these houses.

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