Robert Birge Residence

Berkeley, CA, 1954 (Greenwood Commons)

The Birge house is a part of Greenwood Commons, a collection of houses in the Berkeley hills. William Wurster purchased the land and developed the property. Wurster envisioned a development that would combine an idealistic sense of community with a modernist design aesthetic and an awareness of regional traditions.  Robert Birge, a Bay Area native, grew up playing in the open area of Greenwood Common. Birge met William Wurster at a social event and inquired about obtaining one of the lots. Coincidently the Birge's were good friends with Arthur Kip, who Olsen designed a home for in 1952, and chose Olsen on their recommendation. The two-story Birge residence is a wood-frame, rectangular box lifted on steel pipe columns, with additional support provided by concrete-block walls that enclose the mechanical and storage spaces.

 Fun Fact: The house remained in the hands of the original owners until 2011.