Reader's Choice: Lasting Impressions By Carolyn Weber and Christina B. Farnsworth

Name: Pueblo Ribera

Location: La Jolla, Calif.

Year Built: 1930

Architect: Rudolph M. Schindler

Why it's relevant: These houses are proof that good design is not a prisoner of money

"I felt I was in heaven," says architect William J. Reese of the time from 1978 to 1982 he lived in one of the 12 Pueblo Ribera apartments.

Architect Rudolph M. Schindler designed the one-bedroom La Jolla, Calif., apartments to be built as economically as vacation rentals.

From Schindler, Reese, who now practices in Southampton, N.Y., learned to "simplify, simplify, simplify." Pueblo Ribera employed only reinforced concrete, redwood, and glass. "These are simple but not stark materials," Reese says. The concrete has texture and the redwood rich color and grain. Each home had both an indoor and a rooftop fireplace. The original bathroom sink was nickel, a shallow ship's sink perfect as a nautical reference in a seaside living space.

[Photo: Courtesy William J. Reese]

Schindler designed the furniture and built-ins, too. When Reese lived there, the dining room table was still in place. "I sometimes wish I'd taken it," he says, since by then Schindler was under-appreciated.

Schindler introduced the indoor/outdoor living that is such a part of California today (see Walkthrough, October 2001, page 262). A wall of rolling doors faces the private courtyard. Two doors roll on wheels recessed into the door frames. The wheels run in narrow tracks scored in the concrete floors--a clever and economical detail, Reese still recalls, that entirely opens the indoors to the outdoors.

Each home also had an ocean-view roof terrace equipped with a fireplace. By the time Reese was a resident, his was the only home with its original terrace.

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