Building California Dreams

Welcome to the website dedicated to the residential architecture of Conrad Buff, III, F.A.I.A., Donald Hensman, F.A.I.A., Calvin Straub, F.A.I.A. and Dennis Smith, A.I.A. as well as the many talented associates, engineers and contractors who contributed substantially to the quality of the firm's work and reputation over the years.

BUFF & HENSMAN created hundreds of houses that helped define the California post-war dream from 1950 - 2000. Along the way they garnered more than forty A.I.A. Awards. From budget-minded cabins to opulent celebrity sanctuaries. Their designs are timeless and their skills were agile enough to design fine residences for more than fifty years despite changing tastes and new stringent environmental regulations imposed in the 1970's and since.

Their aesthetic evolved over the years from pure post and beam, wood and glass classics, like Case Study House #20 to beautifully proportioned plays of mass and shadow. Despite the more sheltered exterior designs, the interior spaces remained open and airy.

The beauty of their work comes from attention to the large and small elements that make a house a fine personal experience for the owner. Starting with understanding what a lot has to offer, and taking full advantage of it. They were magicians at making a lot open and private, whether it really was or not by strategic placement of the house and use of structural planes as foils and baffles which were enhanced with expanses of glass.

They carried that attention through the beautifully proportioned spaces, the high-quality materials and workmanship and their renowned detailing and creative assembly.

Even people who know about BUFF & HENSMAN, tend to think their work ended with the case study program, but they continued to build elegant residences based on the very same principles for another thirty five years.

Many of the early projects were photographed by Julius Shulman and can be seen in the BUFF & HENSMAN book. Unfortunately, too many houses were not well documented and can't be shown. This site features many of the later residences and renovation of classic homes.

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BUFF & HENSMAN the book

Out of Print!

A site dedicated to the
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