The Max Bubeck residence: A beacon of uncommon design

The Max Bubeck residence: A beacon of uncommon design
The Glassell Park home, offered at $1.395 million, was designed for motorcycle racer Max Bubeck by his friend Allyn E. Morris, the king of the cantilever. (Shooting LA)

A motorcycle legend and a brash architect. Two renegades, one house.

That pairing promises singularity — precisely what's rendered in the Midcentury Modern Max Bubeck residence in Glassell Park, offered at $1.395 million.


First, the two renegades.

The owner

Max Bubeck spent his youth drag racing Indian bikes, his fingernails black from devising novel retrofits. In 1948, Bubeck set a speed record of 135.58 mph on his "Chout," an Indian Chief and Scout hybrid. He was a regular (1937-79) at the Greenhorn Enduro race in mountains and deserts near Bakersfield.

Thrice-married Bubeck had this quick and honest answer when asked about his imaginative fixes and thirst for speed: "I didn't think it could be done, so I did it."

The architect

Allyn E. Morris built his name by bending a 1950s aesthetic to his whims. The 1956 single-family home he designed for his good friend Bubeck was his first. Morris never gained significant traction as a Los Angeles architect, but he left behind gems, including his 1957 Silver Lake residence and studio, a steel-and-glass wonder that seems to emanate from the hillside.

Morris was king of the cantilever. The architect craved the horizontal line and seemingly tried to stretch it to infinity — most evident in his 1961 Aldama Apartments in Highland Park.

The 1,950-square-foot Verdugo View Drive home

Morris renders the lean architecture of the era but applies a sculptor's sensibility. He triple-stacks his plan, extending cantilevers in all directions to a modest degree (for Morris), the entrance set to the left.

And about that entrance — it's a geometric vortex, funneling attention within, and away from all that horizontality. Rose-tinted block walls flank the deeply inset door, enveloped within more vertical planes. The cascading steps are also blushed pink, and mirror the network of cantilevers above.

Double-stacked clerestory windows rise just inside, bordered by Morris' signature red-painted steel beams. An eight-sided atrium soars behind the block-built fireplace. The hearth's three-quarter circle base is the single arced element in the entire design, as if Morris contends: Yes, I can create those as well, but I'll give you only one.

Morris was not interested in solving interior space puzzles. Rather, he was wholly fixed on creating them. He created complex, interlocked layouts that never confused, only intrigued.

A jungle gym wall of blocks, airily set in contrasted placement, leads to the upper den. "I was a little monkey of a kid, and I climbed all over that house," said Bubeck's son, Lon, who co-owns Flying Cloud Yachts in Long Beach. "Max was very hands-on when the house was built; he acted as general contractor."

This is a party house, strewn with light. Inner and outer space is muddied by the living room's sliding glass that opens to the square pool and spa. A suite of three smallish bedrooms line the home's east side, flanked by decks.


As if to signal the home's iconoclast design, Morris faced his chimney with illuminated glass, which extends through the roof to the flue. Current owners say they can spot the beam from the 134 and 2 freeways.

A beacon of uncommon design.

Robert Kallick of Los Feliz Brokerage is the listing agent.