Created By: Friends Of Residential Treasures: Los Angeles
Buff & Hensman; Marmol-Radziner
Why is it on the Trail?
Built for MGM costume designer Helen Rose in 1963, and revived by Marmol Radziner in 1999 for interior designer Carol Katleman, this house is one that people always fall in love with. It’s sleek and beautiful, inspiring countless painters and photographers to capture its sophisticated volumes.
The front facade is visible from the street, and the front courtyard can be glimpsed through the gate behind the garage, with its stepping stones going over water and leading to the entrance.
Mid-century Modernism emerged from the International Style and became popular in the United States beginning in the mid-1940s, with Los Angeles being home to many of its most iconic structures. The style was characterized by an emphasis on minimalism, clean lines, flat planes and the use of simple geometries. New construction methods allowed for the creation of open floor plans and uninterrupted interiors, with large windows further expanding the space by blurring the boundary between inside and outside.
OTHER FACTS AND FIGURES
- It’s said that Helen Rose commissioned her Trousdale Estates home to function in part as a runway for her fashion shows, which were typically held around the pool using the glassed-in entry gallery for dramatic effect.
- In 1994, Rose House owner Carole Katleman redesigned the interiors of famed hairstylist Sally Hershberger’s nearby Trousdale Estates home, which had been originally designed in 1960 by architect William Stephenson.
- Katleman selected Marmol Radziner Architects to remodel the Rose House after seeing a sign outside a Neutra house that the firm was restoring for Tom Ford, who was then Gucci’s creative director.
IDEAS AND PROCESS THAT WENT INTO STRUCTURE:
The Rose House’s story is bookended by two acutely design-minded owners: the home’s original 1963 owner, Hollywood costume designer Helen Rose, and its current owner, interior designer Carole Katleman.
Rose was an active participant in the design of her residence, which she envisioned as a venue both for entertaining guests and for staging fashion shows debuting her latest collections. Her creative vision was so instrumental to the architectural program that it’s been said that “the design credit for the house might better read ‘Buff, Straub, Hensman & Rose.’” (Price)
Katleman similarly lent her design expertise to the home’s 1999 remodeling, proposing an innovative garage flanked by two doors and driveways. Buff,
Straub & Hensman’s enduring design and thoughtful updates to the structure make it “one of the most inspiring and beloved in today’s Trousdale Estates.” (Price)
BIOGRAPHY OF ARCHITECT:
Conrad Buff III (FAIA) and Donald Hensman (FAIA) were an award-winning and highly influential architect duo within the California Modernism movement. The pair received over 50 American Institute of Architects Awards for their residential designs throughout Southern California.
In 1955, Buff and Hensman formed a trio with their former professor, Calvin Straub. The three collaborated on multiple notable modern homes, including the Thompson Moseley House, the Laurence Harvey House and the Bass House. After Straub left the firm in 1961, Buff and Hensman continued their prolific partnership as Buff & Hensman Architects until Conrad Buff’s death. According to Victor Regnier, professor of architecture at USC, “Almost every California architect educated since the early 1950s has been influenced by the work of Hensman, Buff and Straub in one way or another.”
Conrad Buff III was born in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Eagle Rock in 1926. His father was a landscape painter who created a line of children’s books with his wife, Mary. Family friends of the Buffs included architecture luminaries Rudolph Schindler and Richard Neutra. In fact, one of Neutra’s first commissions was a redesign of the Buff family’s garage. Buff III joined the Navy during World War II before enrolling in the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture.
Donald Charles Hensman was born in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1924, but grew up in Hollywood. As a child, he lived close enough to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House to ride his bike up the hill in order to fish for tadpoles in the pond that sat on the property. Like Buff, he was eventually drafted by the Navy before studying architecture at USC.
Buff and Hensman met in 1948, when the two were undergraduate students at USC. They designed tract and model homes for developments throughout Long Beach in an informal partnership with Cunningham & Brittain, Inc. Following the death of a senior professor in their department, Buff and Hensman were asked by the Dean of the School of Architecture to take over his teaching duties. During this period, the two were students, instructors and working architects all at the same time.
One of their senior lecturers at USC, Calvin Straub, would soon join them in their partnership. Straub was born in Georgia in 1920 and grew up in Pasadena. He has been described by architectural historian Robert Winter as “one of the most prolific and strongest practitioners of what came to be known in California as wooden post-and-beam architecture.”
Straub joined forces with Buff and Hensman in 1955 to design the Frank House, a modular post-and-beam home in Pasadena with landscape design
by Garrett Eckbo. In 1958, the trio was invited by Arts & Architecture magazine to design Case Study House #20 (B) for Saul Bass, which is regarded as their masterwork.
In 1961, Calvin Straub left the firm to accept a position at Arizona State University. Buff and Hensman continued to work together, designing post- and-beam homes well into the mid-1970s, and later adopting a more sculptural design approach. Under the name Buff & Hensman Architects, the duo continued their internationally renowned work for almost three more decades.
After Conrad Buff passed away in 1989, Don Hensman made their longtime associate architect, Dennis Smith, a partner, and the firm became Buff, Smith & Hensman. It’s been suggested that Buff & Hensman would have preferred to leave out the comma between Buff and Smith, always preferring the simplest presentation possible. At times, one sees the name written as “Buff Smith & Hensman.”
ELEMENTS OF STRUCTURE THAT ARE TYPICAL OF ARCHITECT'S WORK:
With its floor-to-ceiling glass walls and generously-sized interior spaces, the Rose House was “an earth-toned aerie emblematic of the midcentury hand of noted architects Conrad Buff, Calvin Straub, and Donald Hensman.” (Price) Like many of Buff, Straub & Hensman’s designs, the Rose House is sited dramatically at the top of a hill, offering expansive views of the city below. Straub left the practice in 1961, so it is unknown if he had a hand in the design before he left.
In another architectural signature, the solidity of the front facade belies the lightness that one experiences as they step inside the home. As architectural historian John English wrote, “Often from the outside [Buff, Straub & Hensman’s houses] can appear windowless and maybe not that inviting… but you can’t read them from the outside; the house is designed to unfold itself and increase your experience of it as you walk into it.” (Iovenko)
Conrad, Tracy. “Helen Rose’s High Fashion and Stylist Life.” The Desert Sun, 9 Feb. 2019.
“Cutting Back on Real Estate? Hair Stylist Sally Hershberger Puts Her Sixties- Style Beverly Hills Home on the Market for $6.9m.” Daily Mail Online, 9 Aug. 2013.
Iovenko, Chris. “Buff’s house, still shining.” Los Angeles Times, Dec. 13, 2007.
Price, Steven M. Trousdale Estates: Midcentury to Modern in Beverly Hills. Regan Arts, 2017.
Helen Rose (known to be the owner in 1963),
Norman and Sara L. Rutkin (known to be the owners 1973), Evelyn Buyse (known to be the owner 1985-1995),
Carole Katleman (1996-present)
Helen Rose was an Oscar-winning costume designer who earned a reputation for her fluency with chiffon, which she used to grace some of the world’s greatest stars. Her most legendary sartorial designs include a long- sleeved lace dress for Grace Kelly’s 1956 wedding to Prince Rainier, and the diaphanous white crepe halter dress worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the 1958 film Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Rose was born on February 2, 1904, in Chicago, to William Bromber, part owner of an art reproduction company, and Ray Bobbs, a seamstress. She attended the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and went on to design stage costumes for various acts in the city’s nightclubs. She moved to Los Angeles in 1929, where she designed outfits for sister-and-brother producing team Fanchon and Marco’s low-budget stage shows. A year after her arrival in California, she married Harry V. Rose (born Rosenstein).
In the early 1940s, Rose had a brief stint at 20th Century Fox, where she designed costumes for the Ice Follies before settling at MGM in 1943. By the late 1940s, she had become the studio’s chief designer. She won her first Academy Award for The Bad and the Beautiful in 1952, and a second one for I’ll Cry Tomorrow in 1955.
Rose left MGM in 1966 and struck out on her own, designing elegant dresses sold by retailers across the United States. In the 1970s, she launched The Helen Rose Show, a traveling fashion show raising money for charity that featured many of the costumes that she had designed for MGM. She also wrote two books: her autobiography, Just Make Them Beautiful, in 1976, and The Glamorous World of Helen Rose in 1983.
Helen Rose died in Palm Springs, California, in 1985 at the age of 81.
QUOTES ABOUT THE HOUSE
“‘The modern character of the house had potential, but we simplified the plan and improved the disjointed circulation patterns,’ says [architect Leo] Marmol. ‘There are no doors dividing the den and living and dining areas and gallery,’ says [architect Ron] Radziner, ‘but rather a series of implied thresholds.’ Floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors ‘allow a strong visual connection with the outdoors.’”
“I wanted to see how the light worked. I wanted to see what the house wanted.” — Owner, art collector and interior designer Carole Katleman, in reference to her decision to live in the Rose House for a year before planning a remodel.
“‘Do you know how many times people ring my door?’ asks Carole Katleman, an interior designer who has lived in a pristine pavilion by Buff, Straub & Hensman since 1996, when she paid just under $1 million for the house. ‘I had somebody the other day who had the nerve to drive up my white concrete driveway and say, ‘I wanna buy your house.’ I said, ‘It’s not for sale.’ He said, ‘Don’t be ridiculous. I’m gonna give you $12 million.’ Like many of her neighbors, the designer cannot conceive of living anywhere else. ‘Every morning I come out here with my instant oatmeal and I say a little prayer,’ she says, stepping out to her pool terrace, her black jeans, black turtleneck and tight black chignon smartly foiling its white terrazzo tiles. ‘I thank God for another day here.’”
Folkart, Burt A. “Film Costume Designer Helen Rose Dies.” Los Angeles Times, 12 Nov. 1985.
Haldeman, Peter. “On the Verge | Trousdale, Los Angeles’s Forgotten Architectural Mecca, Makes a Comeback.” The New York Times, 16 Oct. 2013.
“Helen Rose.” Wikipedia.
Melick, Audrey. “A Modernist Beverly Hills Enclave Offers a View from over the Top.” 1stDibs Introspective, 24 Jan. 2017.
“Minimalism.” Architectural Digest, 1 Oct. 2008.
Moore, Booth. “Helen Rose Dressed Women like Silver-Screen Starlets.” Palm Springs Life, 2 Jan. 2019.
YOUTUBE RELATED LINK
TALES AND TIMELINES:
August 2, 1960
A certificate of occupancy is filed for a residence at 1320 Carla Lane for Helen Rose.
August 16, 1960
A permit is filed for a private swimming pool.
June 6, 1973
A permit is filed for a 12’ x 20’ storage addition.
August 1, 1988
A permit is filed to reroof the home.
Marmol Radziner Architects restore the home to its original design.
This point of interest is part of the tour: Over the Top in Trousdale