Kemper Nomland Jr. dies at 90; L.A. architect built Case Study House No. 10


Kemper Nomland Jr., a Los Angeles architect who teamed with his father early in his career to design and build one of the homes in the landmark post-World War II Case Study House program, has died. he was 90.

Nomland died Friday of natural causes at an assisted living home in Long Beach, said his daughter, Erika Nomland Cilengir.

A Los Angeles native who was a conscientious objector during World War II, Nomland joined with his father to form Nomland & Nomland after the war.


During their partnership, the Nomlands designed numerous projects; chief among them was Case Study House No. 10 in Pasadena.

Sponsored by Los Angeles-based Arts & Architecture magazine in response to the postwar housing shortage, the Case Study House program was a forum for experimentation in low-cost modern housing for middle-class families and involved major architects such as Richard Neutra and Charles and Ray Eames.

Case Study House No. 10, at 711 S. San Rafael Ave., was the only Case Study residence built in Pasadena.

The house, constructed in 1947, was designed specifically for the sloping corner lot in the hillside neighborhood.

“The structure is adapted to the contours of the site, with the rooms placed on several levels to accommodate the slope,” says a 2007 Pasadena cultural resources report compiled by the Historic Resources Group and Pasadena Heritage.

“The room identified as the ‘Studio Room’ on the original plans exemplifies the connection with the outdoors that was so prevalent in Southern California architecture. There is a continuous slab from inside the house to the terrace, separated by a wall of glass that merges the indoor room with the surrounding landscape,” the report states.


After working with his father for a number of years, Nomland worked for several architectural firms, and at one point he designed a house for actress Jane Russell.

Nomland was born May 8, 1919, in Los Angeles. After graduating from Pasadena City College in 1938, he earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from USC in 1941.

He spent World War II in Civilian Public Service camps in Oregon, where conscientious objectors did forest-maintenance work -- first at the Cascade Locks camp and then at the Waldport camp, where he was involved with the fine arts group, designing several covers for books printed at the camp and working on Illiterati, a literary and artistic journal.

“I just figured I could never be involved in killing anybody,” Nomland said in an oral history interview for the U.S. Forest Service and Portland State University. “I couldn’t see any reason for war either. . . . I just couldn’t participate.”

In 1950, Nomland moved to Mount Washington near downtown Los Angeles, where he designed his own three-level, hillside home and at least a dozen other homes.

Nomland’s first wife, Ella, died in 1994.

In addition to his daughter, Erika, he is survived by his wife Joan and a grandson.

No funeral service will be held; a celebration of Nomland’s life is pending.