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Crosby Doe, Architecture for Sale

Crosby Doe is CEO of Crosby Doe Associates, Inc., a real estate company based in Beverly Hills, California, and the developer behind our sponsor, architectureforsale.com a platform for showcasing important properties of architectural significance available for purchase around the world.

Tell us about your own relationship with significant houses
Like art, architecture inspires me. The uplifting experience of great architecture compels me to want to share the gifts it imparts to our daily lives. Each significant house holds the power to enhance and even change the lives of those who live in it, or even just happen to walk by. When we look around carefully at our built environment, it would be easy to become depressed - so much is shabby and mediocre. Architecture’s creativity and the beauty it creates is proof that we do not have to accept these circumstances.

Do you have a favourite house?
How could I choose between a Rembrandt and a Rothko? I feel the same about so many houses. I have been fortunate enough to experience the important residential work of a great number of modern architects. These works fit together like a wonderful mosaic, each house conveying its own magic and affording a unique lifestyle. Just think of the diversity of the houses created by Schindler, the Wrights, Harris, Neutra, Lautner and Neff, to name just a few here in southern California. Even though some of the works may be judged more successful than others, each house is a wonderful piece of a puzzle, and today the loss of any one of them somehow diminishes the rest. Even though I am inclined not to pick favourites, I would like to share that my experience of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Millard House as a very young boy. This conveyed an indelible impression which probably set me on an unconscious trajectory that enabled my career.

What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation right now?
We are a small business. Scale is our biggest challenge at this time. Thousands of users have signed on and registered to view the unique architecture offered at architectureforsale.com. Agents and owners from all around the world are placing their properties on the site. We are growing into the marketplace for architecture we envisioned many years ago. We now publish a wonderful magazine, ArchitectureForSale Quarterly, which is distributed on newsstands in the southern California area, and which is also carried by Barnes and Noble bookstores across the country. We have also developed a unique search engine for all identified architecture on the market, and this is currently being beta tested in the southern California area. As rewarding as all this has been, we are experiencing growing pains. A goal this year is to find a larger corporate partner with an understanding of the importance of market differentiation for architecture, and a vision of the opportunity for our endeavour to expand into important markets around the world.

What do you expect from the upcoming Iconic Houses conference at the Getty Center in Los Angeles?
I am looking forward to meeting Iconic House members who have undertaken to preserve and share their houses, and open them to the public. Their generosity helps to grow the appreciation of architecture. It has always seemed to me that one can really understand the art in architecture only by experiencing it directly. As important as they are, models, and even the best architectural photography, can’t impart the true essence of a great work of architecture. Even though I had admired pictures in architecture books for years, they could not begin to convey the emotional impact I experienced last summer when I visited Philip Johnson’s Glass House, Pierre Chareau’s Maison de Verre and Wright’s Robie House for the first time. I am grateful that these properties have been made available for the public to experience.

Which 21st-century house in California has the potential to become a future Iconic House, and why?
This question is not as easy to answer as it sounds! For one thing, I don’t think we need the test of time to judge whether a house is iconic. They are born that way so to speak. Just think of a few of the Southern California classics from the 20th century: Schindler’s Lovell Beach House, Neutra’s Lovell Health House, Wright’s Millard House, Lautner’s Chemosphere. They were iconic the day they were built, and remain so today. So what 21st-century house would I pick as an example? I think the 2009 Caverhill Residence by Zolton Pali, which we are now representing for sale, is iconic. I think it meets the test because of its function, siting and sculptural qualities. The important aspect here is that, like sculpture, the house is fully and successfully resolved. In this example, the form of the house truly follows function. It perfectly accommodates the owner’s living requirements, and successfully responds to building codes and environmental restraints.

Crosby Doe recommends taking a look at this video as a warm up for the conference: 'Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles’. Architectural critic Reyner Banham explores Los Angeles in this 1972 BBC documentary.


Mary and Lee Blair Residence by Harwell Hamilton Harris, Los Angeles 1939. Photograph: Cameron Carothers



Mary and Lee Blair Residence by Harwell Hamilton Harris, Los Angeles 1939. Photograph: Cameron Carothers



Caverhill Residence by Studio Pali Fekete architects, Los Angeles 2009. Photograph: Cameron Carothers



Caverhill Residence by Studio Pali Fekete architects, Los Angeles 2009. Photograph: Cameron Carothers

Publication date 14 January 2016