Martin Gelber

The Gelber House

While I was up in Crestwood Hills to visit the Smith House, I drove around a little on some of the winding nearby streets, with the aim of ending up at a Ray Kappe design at 12256 Canna Rd. That house turned out to be very difficult to see from the street, but a purple railing in front of the next-door neighbor’s house immediately caught my eye. I took a few photos of what I could see of that house, marveling at both its simplicity and its playfulness: a barely-visible cylinder at the front door, subtle wire sculptures lining the road.

I was thinking it had to be something from the 1970s, with its small-window-post-energy-crisis-fortress-like street-facing facade, and when I got home I was happy to find out it was a 1978 design: the Gelber Residence by Martin B. Gelber, a Los Angeles-born, USC-trained architect who passed away in 2019 at the age of 82. He lived in this self-designed home for 40 years with his wife, Michela Gunn, who appears to still own it.

I get the sense that late 70s modernism is fairly un-loved, but when I arrived the May grey had just lifted and the sun was casting soft midday shadows across the plain stucco exterior. Stumbling on this house was a real treat.