Mutual Housing Association / Site Office

The Mutual Housing Association Site Office (1947)  by A. Quincy Jones, Whitney Smith and Edgardo Contini.

The Mutual Housing Association concept began with four musicians who, in 1946, wanted to share an acre of land and a swimming pool. At one point, the association had 500 members.

Mutual Housing Association was formed as a nonprofit entity. All of the members of the co-operative owned shares and would be entitled to a housing site. After looking at various properties around Los Angeles, they settled on the rolling hills of Brentwood. They purchased 835 acres for $400,000 and the sites for homes were estimated to cost between $11,000 to $25,000. A. Quincy Jones, Whitney Smith and structural engineer Edgardo Contini were selected to design the community. 

Source: Arts & Architecture

Here's a map for reference.

The site office was the first building constructed and was essentially a full-scale mockup. Although not an actual house, the basic structural framing and architectural details are typical to the models that were built. This is where the architects would work on designing the rest of the development. The plan was for the building to become an arts and crafts center after the architects were done with their work. Instead, the office was converted into a house.

Source: Arts & Architecture

Source: A. Quincy Jones by Cory Buckner

The book's author is an architect and actually lives in the MHA site office. She also wrote a book on Crestwood Hills. Through her preservation efforts, 15 of the remaining 30 MHA houses have been designated Los Angeles Historic/Cultural Monuments.

A 1951 Progressive Architecture article on Crestwood Hills stated that the development "...suffers at present from lack of planting and some crowding not intended in the original scheme, but taking these into account the scene is dramatic, stimulating and altogether human."

Well, the planting has certainly filled in nicely.

 This comes from the Pilot House brochure.

The Pilot House was built in 1948 by Jones, Smith and Contini to test design concepts. It's extremely similar to the MHA site office.  However it's located further east, in Mt Washington, where land was cheap. 

Frank Bros. decorated the Pilot House, which included some of the best names in modern. Seen here is Stan Hawk and Maurice Martiné.

Eames and Alvar Aalto too.

Back to Crestwood Hills and the MHA.

 The entrance is located on the opposite side of the driveway.

 This room was added by a previous owner. The fireplace was also relocated.

Alvar Aalto

Iron. There's a Ravenware tray and the cart is by.... It will come to me.


That's a Eugene Weston table in the back, with a Japanese lantern on it. I believe it's a more recent Ten10 production.

I'd like to thank Cory Buckner for opening up her home and giving a great tour.  I'd also like to thank the LACMA Decorative Arts Council and especially Joel Chen for letting me tag along on their outing. It's a wonderful group.

More information on Cory's house can be found at MHA Site Office.

Here we have a video by Open Space Series. This is their latest release, which is timely. The first two videos were on Edward Killingsworth houses that belong to Lewy and Nate. It's an awesome series.