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Craig Ellwood (April 22, 1922 – May 30, 1992) was an influential Los Angeles-based modernist architect whose career spanned the early 1950s through the mid-1970s. Although untrained as an architect, Ellwood fashioned a persona and career through equal parts of a talent for good design, self-promotion and ambition. He was recognized professionally for fusing of the formalism of Mies van der Rohe with the informal style of California modernism.
Jon Nelson Burke|
April 22, 1922
Clarendon, Texas, U.S.
May 30, 1992 (aged 70)|
Pergine Valdarno, Italy
Faith Irene Walker|
Jeffrey, Erin, Adam (with Gloria McIniry Henry) |
Caitlin Emily Ellwood (with Leslie Hyland)
|Practice||Craig Ellwood Design (established 1949) unlicensed architect|
1953 Case Study House 16, Bel Air, California, (1952-53)
The Milton Lappin House, Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, California (1948) |
The Epstein House, Los Angeles CA (1949)
The Meyer House, Los Angeles CA (1950)
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Ellwood was born Jon Nelson Burke in Clarendon, Texas. Along with many others in the 1920s, Ellwood's family moved west, following U.S. Route 66, finally settling in Los Angeles in 1937. There, Ellwood, as Johnnie Burke, attended Belmont High School, where he was class president before graduating in 1940. In 1942, Ellwood and his brother Cleve both joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Ellwood served as a B-24 radio operator, based with Cleve in Victorville, California until his discharge in 1946.
This section relies largely or entirely on a single source. (August 2018)
After his discharge from the Army, Burke returned to Los Angeles and set up a company with his brother Cleve and two friends from the war, the Marzicola brothers, one of whom had a contractor's license. The four men called their firm 'Craig Ellwood' after a liquor store called Lords and Elwood located in front of their offices. Burke later legally changed his name to Ellwood.
In 1948, he joined the firm Lamport Cofer Salzman (L.C.S.) as a construction cost estimator, having acquired this skill during his work for the Craig Ellwood Company. Ellwood also studied structural engineering through UCLA extension night school for five years. He became increasingly involved in design and architecture, resulting in Ellwood's first commissions, all for residences.
Ellwood established 'Craig Ellwood Design' in 1951. There Ellwood would provide the commissions and the vision, and it was up to USC-trained architect Robert Theron 'Pete' Peters, and later others, to provide the technical realization, drawings and the required sign-off of a licensed architect. Early projects included Case Study House 16 in 1952. The designs were well received by both the trade and potential clients, often receiving favorable coverage in influential publications like John Entenza's Arts & Architecture, often arranged for by Ellwood personally. Thus the firm received a growing stream of both residential and commercial commissions, and Ellwood's style matured to fully embrace the concepts put forth by International Style architects, particularly Mies van der Rohe.
By the late-1950s, though not a licensed architect, Ellwood was nonetheless a sought-after university lecturer, eventually giving a series of talks at Yale University, and teaching at the University of Southern California and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona's Department of Architecture.
Though Ellwood's office expanded with the size and number of his commissions, it was never a particularly profitable enterprise. It continued through the mid-1970s, with several notable projects, including the master plan for the Rand Corporation's headquarters in Santa Monica, California, a number of Xerox and IBM offices, and the trademark "bridge building" dramatically spanning an arroyo and a roadway at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena.
As published in the 1976, the Art Center building is recognized as the work of Craig Ellwood Associates, with James Tyler as design architect and Stephen Woolley as project architect. Some sources have sought to re-credit this building solely to Tyler, who had worked for John Sugden (a former associate of Mies) and was the architect of the Art Center addition, completed in 1991. The practice closed in 1977 and Ellwood retired to Italy to focus on painting and on restoring a farm house near Ambra.
Elwood's first wife was Faith Irene Walker, known as "Bobbie." In 1949 Ellwood married actress Gloria Henry. The union produced three children Jeffrey, Adam, and Erin Ellwood, before the couple eventually divorcing, in 1977. He then married Anita Eubank to live in Perigee, Valdarno, Italy. After divorcing Eubank, he and his fourth wife, Leslie Hyland Ellwood, had a daughter, Caitlin Emily Ellwood.
- Lappin House, Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, California, 1948 
- Hale House, Beverly Hills, California, 1949
- The New Case Study House 16 (Salzman House), Bel Air, California, 1951–53
- Courtyard Apartments, Hollywood, California, 1952–53
- Case Study House 17B (Hoffman House), Beverly Hills, California, 1954–56
- Case Study House 18 (Fields House), Beverly Hills, California, 1955–58
- Smith House, Los Angeles, California, 1955
- Hunt House, Malibu, California, 1955
- South Bay Bank, Los Angeles, California, 1956
- Carson-Roberts Office Building, West Hollywood, California, 1958–60
- Daphne House, Hillsborough, California, 1960–61
- Scientific Data Systems, various buildings and offices, El Segundo and Pomona, California, 1966–69
- Max Palevsky House, Palm Springs, California, 1968
- Charles and Gerry Bobertz Residence, San Diego, California, 1953
- Art Center College of Design (Hillside Campus), Pasadena, California, 1976
- Craig Ellwood Paintings, published by Converso Gallery, 2004, essay by Jeffrey Head
- "What Does Post-Modernism Mean to You?" L.A. Architect, March 1976.
- California Modern, the Architecture of Craig Ellwood, by Neil Jackson
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-06. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- "Jon Nelson (Jonny) Burke, aka Craig Ellwood (1922-1992)". ncmodernist.org. US Modernist Masters Gallery. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-04-11. Retrieved 2016-04-02.
- "The New Case Study House #16, by Craig Ellwood, designer" (PDF). Arts and Architecture. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Case study house #17, by Craig Ellwood" (PDF). Arts and Architecture. Retrieved January 17, 2017.
- "Case study house #18, by Craig Ellwood" (PDF). Arts and Architecture. Retrieved January 17, 2017.