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Gamble House

Greene & Greene. Pasadena, CA. 1908.

Kylie McManus. Architectural Design. Fall 2017.

The Gamble House was built by architects Greene & Greene in 1908 as a winter home
for David B. Gamble and his family. Built in Pasadena, California, the Craftsman style
home is now a National Historic Landmark and a California Historical Landmark. This
architectural style is especially popular in the Southern California area, the Gamble
House being one of the earliest and most beautiful examples.

Charles Sumner Greene (1868–1957) and Henry Mather Greene (1870–1954) were a
pair of very influential early 20th century architects. The two brothers worked largely
in the west coast, and were best known for building houses in the Craftsman style.

In their early life, they lived in Ohio, West Virginia, and Missouri. These rural areas
fostered a love of nature in the boys, which later was reflected in their work. As they
aged, their father urged them to pursue architecture, leading them to study at Washing-
ton University in St. Louis and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduat-
ing, they went on to work under several famous architects before beginning their own
firm, Greene & Greene.
Site Plan
1st Floor Plan
2nd Floor Plan
Roof Floor Plan
Basement Plan
Front Elevation
Rear Elevation
Cross Section
Arts & Crafts
The Gamble House is considered to be built in the Craftsman Style. This references the Arts and Crafts
movement, which was originally created as a reaction to the cold and rather callous Industrial Revolu-
tion. Those in the Arts and Crafts movement hated mechanized labor; they valued well designed, well
made works of art over cheap mass production.
The ideas that backed the Craftsman houses in the early 20th century included designs that were beau-
tiful, affordable, simplistic, artistic, and made with integrity. Common features of these homes, as seen
in the Gamble house, include low gabled roofs, wide eaves with overhanging rafters and exposed rafter
tails, open porches and terraces, use of natural materials (especially stone and wood), and exposure of
underlying handiwork.

Building with Nature

The Gamble house is built with nature very much in mind, both structurally and stylistically. The warm
Southern California climate allowed for a spacious design and a lot of natural lighting. There are multi-
ple porches and terraces that allow for outdoor entertainment and viewing, as well as to help bridge the
gap between inside and out. In the back patio, there are patterned brick pavements with planting areas, a
large pond, and a distinctive clinker brick garden wall. This use of water-worn stones further adds to the
nature-esque feel of the bungalow.
Back inside, the house also sports a great deal of woodwork. There are several different varieties, in-
cluding maple, oak, cedar, redwood, and mahogany. The different colors and grains were used to help
bring out contrast and add ambience to the rooms. They also used interlocking joinery in several places
throughout the house instead of nails or screws, which is considered a technique that is more beautiful,
complex, and long lasting. Additionally, the house features many art glass pieces, as seen in several win-
dows and lamps. The glass often depicts trees, leaves, and branches. Because of the spacious and open
design, the large windows filter in a great deal of natural light, giving the house a warm glow.
Historical References
Japanese Influence
Many of the aforementioned stylistic choices in the Gamble House have roots in Japa-
nese Architecture. The simplistic design, unpainted wood, use of natural and subdued
colors, and building with nature were all elements of Japanese architecture that were
utilized in the house’s design. Features such as the interlocking joinery originally were
created by Japanese architects and builders. Greene and Greene were specifically influ-
enced by Japanese architecture after being exposed to it at the Chicago International
Exposition of 1893, where they saw the Ho-o-Den Pavilion. This was an authentic Japa-
nese pavilion created for the fair to showcase their style of architecture.

Total Design (Gesamtkunstwerk)

Another big influence for Greene and Greene came from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase
International Exposition in St. Louis. There, they were introduced to the idea of “Ge-
samtkunstwerk,” or “total design.” This concept was featured in the German-designed
rooms, and put forth the idea that architects should not simply design the house, but
the entire home, including furnishings and landscaping. This is why the Gamble house
not only has a fabulous backyard and pond, but also custom made furniture throughout
the home.
Functional Analysis
Functional Analysis
Site Analysis
Indoor/Outdoor Space
Spatial Organization (Cluster)
Materials and Details
Art Glass
The Gamble house features many art glass works, seen
on lighting fixtures and doors throughout the house.
The most noticeable piece is on the two front doors; it
is a glass mural of a colorful, twisted tree that stretches
across several panes on the doors.

Patio and Pond

The back pond, bordered by a low stone garden wall
covered in ivy, is a highlight of the Gamble house. Its
beautiful and calming design furthers the idea of na-
ture and Japanese aesthetics within the property. It is
flanked on multiple sides by planting areas.
Materials and Details
Custom Wood Furniture
Following the “Total Design” principle, Greene and
Greene had custom made wooden furniture for each
room of the house. This included drawers, tables, chairs,
cabinets, and more. Though they all stick to the style of
the house, each set is distinct.

There are several open fireplaces throughout the house.
Each one is unique; one is a tall brick structure, while the
other two are tiled with unique floral patterns. They pro-
vide multiple comfortable spaces to gather, each being
uniquely furnished and decorated.

Wood Joinery
Several parts of the house are fitted together using in-
terlocking wood joinery. This is a beautiful, though very
complex and difficult, technique that involves hand
carved pieces of wood which link together to form struc-