511 Dwight Place
511 Dwight Place, Berkeley
Perched on a dramatic pinnacle of Panoramic hill, this mid-century masterpiece offers some of the most expansive and extraordinary views of the entire San Francisco Bay area. First time on the market and being sold by the original family, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The Bay Area Architect John Hans Ostwald designed “The Moruza-Ostwald House” in 1958. Ostwald designed the home to take advantage of the site's 270 degree view. The home’s location and architecture strike a masterful balance between the surrounding urban and the natural landscapes.
The Moruza house features a striking cathedral ceiling living room, wrapped in glass on three sides, South, West and North to take advantage of one of the most comprehensive panoramas of the Bay Area. Toward the West one looks straight out at the Golden Gate with a dramatic canyon view to the South side. Ostwald’s goal in all his designs was to bring the outside in, so the structure with its glass walls are light and draw attention not so much to themselves, but to the spectacular Bay and natural Canyon vistas.
The view is unique because the spur on which the house sits extends out beyond all the other ridges in the East Bay Hills providing unimpeded views north, west and south to include all five bridges of the San Francisco Bay. At approximately 760 feet above sea level, the elevation of the home is ideal to allow for an expansive view and separation from the urban landscape, while not being too high in the hills so that the detail and three dimensional effect is flattened as it often is at higher elevations. In fact, although it does not feel like it, about a ten-minute walk will take you to the UC Berkeley Campus and shopping areas.
To the north, one can see Napa on a clear day, Mount Tamalpais and all of Marin County. Through the center of the living room pavilion one looks straight out to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Faralon Islands beyond. Looking south, one can take in San Francisco, the Peninsula all the way to San Jose. In the East Bay, the view extends from the San Rafael Bridge to San Leandro. The house looks “over” and down on all of the UC Berkeley Campus and its’ Campanile tower (Sather Tower).
Another unique aspect of the four parcels on which the house is built: They were purchased by Tito and Margaret Moruza from the direct descendants of the Peralta family. As a result, the Moruza house is built on one of the last parcels to be sold from the original Royal land grant to the Peralta family from the Spanish colonial era.
As one approaches the house from down the hill and looking at it from the street, the asymmetric porch can be seen jutting out towards the bay, an effect made possible by a steel cantilever beam, which also supports the living room. The house was designed to present the views to a person entering the house as a striking revelation because one enters from below, up two levels of the outside stair case, and then up a spiral staircase to the living room where the views suddenly and unexpectedly present themselves on all directions. This transition ends with a sense of floating over the entire Bay Area.
The living room is visually anchored on the left front by a black classic modern cast iron fire place in the round designed and built by JP Glaser, who designed the famous fire place in the Squaw Valley Lodge. There is a matching fire pit in the backyard also by JP Glaser. Mr Glaser fashioned both round bases of the fireplace and the fire pit from five foot caps of a pressure vessel.
Ostwald believed that a house should be fitted to the personality and style of life of its occupants as well as to the nature of its environment. He valued rough cut simple materials, so you will see exposed double beams and all the ceilings of rough cut fir with Japanese style post and lintel timber construction, and direct unaffected use of planks, posts, trusses, nails and bolts, all of which are references for Ostwald, of early California rural farm structures.
The entire view side of the house to include the front bedrooms has a wraparound continuous deck, which juts out in front towards the Golden Gate on a cantilever beam like the prow of a ship.
The back of the house and protected patio provides a rock garden respite from the expansive view. A sitting room and bedrooms face the secluded garden, which is protected from the elements by a glass windbreak. Landscaped paths lead uphill behind the house to terraces for more perspectives of the view and the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve to the South.
The seclusion of The Moruza-Ostwald house is guaranteed because the property is contiguous to the East Bay Regional Parks Claremont Canyon, a natural canyon of extraordinary beauty. Both the canyon and the dramatic knoll across can be viewed from the living room and deck. While the south edge of the property is completely protected by the Regional Park, the property also includes two lots to the front assuring protection of both the view and the home’s privacy. The lot adjacent to the north of the house is also part of the property, which includes four lots in all.
The house made quite an impression when it was built, as it can be seen from all over the bay area, and was featured in an article and on the cover of Sunset Magazine in 1960 and local newspapers.
More about the architect:
John Hans Ostwald 1913-1974