Berger wrote to Wright, asking him to 'design a home which was expandable, inexpensive and easy for one person to build.' Wright responded with a request of his own: photographs and a topographical map of the site. In an eventual meeting with Wright, Berger stated that he could afford no more than $1,500 in architectural fees and $15,000 in construction costs. Mr. Wright agreed to the terms and sent the preliminary drawings to Berger in January of 1951.Construction began in April of 1953, but it took until July of 1957 to complete the core living area of the home, finally allowing Robert Berger, his wife Gloria and their four children to move from their sleeping bag encampment outside. Berger did all of the work — save for the radiant heat installation and the concrete floor — himself, under the guidance of Wright’s San Francisco Associate, Aaron Green. Unfortunately, Berger fell ill in 1969 and died in 1973 before the house was totally complete, but his wife Gloria hired a professional carpenter to finish the job including construction of the furniture.
Nestled on a promontory with views overlooking San Anselmo and the surrounding hills, the two bedroom, two bath, 1,760-square-foot Berger Residence is a shining example of Wright’s Usonian design. The building materials include Philippine Mahogany wood work, Sonoma field stone, desert masonry style 14-inch thick walls, and cement floors with radiant heat. The living area encompasses three sides of the central kitchen and is made up of 120-degree corners. The dining room area flows naturally off the kitchen and into the living room where a large, built-in seating area follows the contour of two of the exterior living room walls and faces an imposing stone fireplace. The fireplace, made of the same 'desert masonry' technique as the exterior, is the core of the main living area, a signature of Usonian homes. In addition to the home, Wright designed furniture and a matching dog house, which was commissioned by Berger’s son. The home sits on nine-tenths of an acre and affords stunning views of the surrounding area, which can also be viewed through walls of windows and from the large deck.
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