"Modern Patrons" Richard King and Carol Soucek King: Living by Design in a Classic Arroyo Buff & Hensman
Carol Soucek King graciously hosted members of the Southern California Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians for a leisurely tour and conversation with the Society’s “Modern Patrons” organizer John Berley last Saturday, May 8, 2010, between 10AM-12PM. Husband Richard King, seen below, was unable to attend due to a prior commitment to attend graduation ceremonies at Woodbury University where he has been a long-time trustee.
This event a was nice followup to the March 28th Pasadena Heritage Spring Home Tour “Buff & Hensman: The Art of Modernism”, (see tour brochure cover below)
Following is a link to the latest SAH/SCC Newsletter announcing the event http://www.sahscc.org/SAHSCC%20News%20MaJu%202010.pdf.
SAH/SCC organized this very successful event as part of their “Modern Patrons” series which was a very special opportunity to visit the Buff & Hensman King Residence “Arroyo del Rey” adjacent to not so dry Arroyo Seco beneath the monumental Highway 134 over-crossing in Pasadena. (See image below). Built in 1979, the King Residence is a superb example of Buff & Hensman’s melding of architecture and landscape in a most unusual setting in the Arroyo. In March 2009, the Pasadena City Council officially designated the Kings’ home a Historic Monument.
Saturday was a rare chance to experience the house and surrounding gardens, pavilion, and creekside gazebo and also to learn firsthand from Carol how she and husband Richard came about hiring the architects to create a place of serenity and refuge in a spectacular setting. In the monograph Buff & Hensman (USC Guild Press/Balcony Press, 2004), author Don Hensman recalls the King Residence as “a deceptively straightforward floor plan (that) is balanced without being superfluous.
Neutral stucco walls complement the natural wood trim of the sunken living room. In fact, the home feels more like sculpture than structure. We designed the artscape and landscaping to connect three structures, blending them into the natural surroundings.” (The above monograph contains a nice 6-page spread on the King Residence). Carol informed the intimate group attending Saturday’s event that their 1.5-acre compound was executed in three phases during which the undertaking led to a very close friendship with Conrad and Don.
Also major USC patrons, the Kings hosted a memorable symposium “The World of Buff & Hensman” on November 16, 2008 at which the formal announcement of the donation of their fabulous home, “Arroyo del Rey”, a prime example of Buff & Hensman’s work, to USC School of Architecture for use as an events center and the acceptance by School of Architecture Dean Ma were made. The Kings are also providing a generous endowment for the compound’s maintenance. Thus, the home and surroundings will be preserved in perpetuity and in the future will be known as “The Carol Soucek King and Richard King Center for Architecture, Arts and the Humanities/University of Southern California.”
Back issues of Designers West edited by Soucek King are also becoming increasingly rare and quite collectible. The above issue contains a spread of Beth Kudlicki and my Buff & Hensman home in Playa del Rey, the 1983 Harry Dorsey Residence with Julius Shulman photos. We also have a 6-page spread in the above “Buff & Hensman” monograph.
For a related post I did last January on Buff, Straub & Hensman go to http://socalarchhistory.blogspot.com/2010/01/three-amigos-conrad-buff-iii-calvin.html
I have an Annotated and Illustrated Buff & Hensman Bio-Bibliography in the works which currently contains over 500 articles. Also under way, with the assistance of remaining firm partner Dennis Smith, is a Buff & Hensman Project Database. Stay tuned.
For a related link to John Berley, Project Manager of Frederick Fisher Partners Annenberg Community Beach House project in Santa Monica see http://socalarchhistory.blogspot.com/2010/05/annenberg-community-beach-house-at.html