From the 1920s until his 1970 death, Richard Neutra designed more than 300 homes on his way to becoming an icon of modernist architecture. One of the Austrian-born legend’s more intriguing masterpieces is the so-called Wilkins House in L.A.’s suburban San Gabriel Valley city of South Pasadena, which recently sold for $4.3 million to Elsa Hosk, the Swedish international model who has graced dozens of magazine covers.
Built in 1949, the Wilkins House was considered just another “ordinary” Neutra build until the early aughts, when it was discovered that the structure is actually a near-exact replica of Neutra’s plans for Case Study House #13, the never-actually-realized Alpha House. Neutra, the most prominent architect to take part in the fabled Case Study experiment, designed four homes for the program; of those, only one was officially built, Pacific Palisades’ Bailey House.
Two years after the aborted Alpha House, Neutra saw an opportunity to bring his unused design to life through a different residential project, this one located on a hidden flag lot in a quiet corner of South Pasadena. In essence, the Wilkins residence became the Case Study house that was never actually a Case Study house.
Although the property has been altered over the years, most notably with the addition of modern amenities like a butler’s pantry, top-end stainless appliances, and spa-style master bathroom, the non-famous sellers hired acclaimed architect John Bertram to restore and carefully renovate the house, reversing some unwise decor choices and add-ons. Today, the property retains much of the original design intent.
There are tongue-and-groove redwood ceilings, a massive double-sided brick fireplace, and expansive walls of glass that provide unstoppable natural light and the ultimate indoor/outdoor flow. Terrazzo and radiant heated cork floors add some cheeky playfulness, while there’s also a sleek master bedroom with built-in cabinetry and sliding glass doors leading out to a covered terrazzo terrace. The L-shaped main house, situated up a long gated driveway, is additionally secreted behind breeze-block walls.
The two-structure compound is comprised of a nearly 3,000-square-foot, three-bed, three-bath main house and an 800-square-foot, two-bed, two-bath detached guesthouse. Surrounding the two buildings is a lush, park-like landscape with magnolia trees and ancient oaks, plus amenities such as a swimming pool with old-school diving board, and a swingset for the kiddies.
Pasadena and its surrounding environs, while not traditionally a haven for the famous, are filled with architectural treasures and thus have been steadily increasing in popularity with design-minded celebrities. Meryl Streep recently bought a stunning midcentury modern in the Pasadena hills, and just a few streets away from the Wilkins House is Case Study House #10, currently owned by prolific comedian/actress Kristen Wiig.
Hosk, 32, initially rose to widespread fame as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and is a longtime runway veteran for the likes of Dior, Balmain, Valentino, and Versace. Besides her stylish new South Pas. digs, she continues to own a downright stunning loft in Manhattan’s trendy SoHo neighborhood — that property, listed with a $3.5 million ask, is currently under contract to be sold.