Dave Brubeck and his “tree house”
This unusual house in the hills of Oakland, California is the home of Dave Brubeck, known as “Mr. Jazz” to his fans.
Thanks to the ingenuity of their architect, Dave and Iola Brubeck and their five children have a home that provides much more than just their needs as a family. Jr all began with a hillside lot with tall trees and a pretty view of Oakland Bay. But it’s also narrow, steeply sloped, and virtually all rock. Could a house be built here? Architect David Thorne found the answer, and he found it with steel.
He decided to create a level area, a sort of “hand” to hold the house, by anchoring structural steel “fingers” to a mass of solid rock. These beams, as shown in the sketch, support five bedrooms, two baths, living room, dining room, music room, play room, kitchen and utility room — all on one level!
So easily can these steel beams carry the weight of the house that Thorne was able to “cantilever” them out into space. Thus, the bedroom wing extends 16 feet beyond the brick wall, a good 20 feet above the ground, creating the tree-house effect shown above.
How do the Brubecks like their home? Here’s how Dave puts it: “This house expresses much of my wife’s per-sonality and my own. As a musician, I feel that if inspiration can come from good surroundings, I’ll find it here.”
Mike on drums, Chris toots the clarinet, Darius spoons out sweet trumpet, while Danny gives Dad a hand on the ivories.
This sketch shows how five steel beams form a “hand” to support the living area on one level. Bethlehem Pacific Coast Steel Corp. furnished the structural steel to the fabricator, National Iron Works. Consulting engineer was Carl Replogle, Jr.
Architects and builders are using steel more often these days for homes. They know that it’s strong, durable, and so much more versatile than other materials. Bethlehem produces steel in many forms for building nearly every kind of structure, from homes and schools to towering skyscrapers and monumental bridges.