Architect A. Quincy Jones (1917-1979) devoted much of his postwar career to creating a middle ground between custom-built and developer-built homes. A cooperative group, the Mutual Housing Assn., hired him as part of a three-man team to design modest-sized homes for returning servicemen.
Approximately 160 of their houses, based on eight models, were built in the Crestwood Hills area of Brentwood. Using unadorned materials -- cinder block, redwood siding, exposed plywood, tongue-and-groove ceiling planks -- the post-and-beam homes raised the tract house to a new level, dissolving the boundary between indoor-outdoor spaces. About 30 are still in original, or near-original, condition. Architect Cory Buckner, author of "A. Quincy Jones," shepherded 15 of them to historic-cultural monument status with the city.
"Most of the people buying them now understand how precious the original design was," says Buckner. "They respect that they're small. They change their lifestyle instead of the house."