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who used to be kendrick bangs kellogg, the yankee pioneer of natural structure

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remembering kendrick bangs kellogg (1934-2024)

 

Last month, we bade farewell to American architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, the pioneer of organic architecture. In the past decades, Kellogg completed over a daozen striking structures (residential and public), each marked with his distinctly curved, irregular, and expressive style. Influenced by his family’s ties to Frederick Law Olmsted, the ‘Father of Landscape Architecture’, Kellogg’s independent architectural journey began after a brief meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955. However, unlike Wright and organic architect Bruce Goff, his style explicitly defies categorization, often alluding to a mix of the Sydney Opera House and Stonehenge. In fact, Kellogg prioritized durability, solidity, and intricacy, a vision reinforced by his collaboration with visionary clients, using high-quality materials like copper and concrete. Below, in honor of his passing, designboom rounds up Kellogg’s most iconic works, including the Lotus House in San Diego, High Desert House in Joshua Tree, Onion House in Hawaii, and the Hoshino Stone Chapel in Nagano, Japan.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image via The Onion House Hawaii 

 

 

High Desert House in Joshua Tree, california

 

Sculpted over 30 years, the High Desert House in Joshua Tree is probably the greatest example of organic architecture signed by Kellogg. Nestled among the rocky terrain of Joshua Tree, California, the house takes the form of an organic object made up of a cluster of sculptural piers. There is an ambiguous relationship between the built space and the extreme landscape as the house navigates between the protruding rock formations. AAt certain moments, these natural elements pierce through the interior and become sculptural elements of the conditioned space. 

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Jim Haefner via The Kellogg Doolittle Residence on Instagram | full header © Lance Gerber 

 

 

Kellogg, alongside his longtime associate and protege John Vugrin, built the residence for the artistic couple Bev and Jay Doolittle. Both facilitated an environment free from pressure, allowing the architect and design duo to carefully lay out every aspect detail of the High Desert House, both inside and out. According to Kellogg, Vugrin  played a pivotal role in the project, contributing his expertise in the material palette and executing the architect’s vision with precision. His craftsmanship spanned marble, wood, stone, glass, copper, bronze, and steel. 

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Jim Haefner via The Kellogg Doolittle Residence on Instagram

 

 

The meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail is visible in the custom-made elements throughout, from the hand-laid stone paths to the marble, copper, and glass features indoors. Visitors often describe the home as a cohesive piece of art, with accents of Brutalism weaving into the organic architecture. Despite its predominantly glass and concrete construction, the house exudes warmth and intimacy, offering a serene retreat among ancient boulders and panoramic views of Joshua Tree National Park.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Katya Grozovskaya, via The Kellogg Doolittle Residence on Instagram

 

 

Lotus House in La Jolla, San Diego

 

Built in 1989, La Jolla Estate, more commonly known as Lotus House, integrates art and architecture in an ocean-view location in La Jolla Heights, San Diego. This Kendrick Bangs Kellogg masterpiece is tucked away at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, revealing a minimalist exterior that contrasts with its impressive interior design. Inside, expansive ceilings, curved Douglas fir beams, and expansive glass walls surround a central three-level atrium, flooding the home with natural light.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Agents of Architecture via Facebook 

 

 

The Lotus House instills warmth with its natural wood finishes, spacious proportions, and panoramic views of San Diego. A focal point is the artistic concrete fireplace, although attention quickly turns to the panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and La Jolla Shores. Spanning approximately 241 square meters on a .9-acre homesite overlooking Pottery Canyon, the organic architectural residence features three bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and one half-bath.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Agents of Architecture

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Agents of Architecture

 

 

hoshino stone CHURCH in nagano, japan

 

The Hoshino Stone Church – full name Uchimura Kanzo Memorial Stone Church – was completed by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg in 1988 in the Nagano prefecture of central Japan. Today, the church is used primarily for weddings, a widely popular destination in Japan though not as widely known outside of the country. The chapel is situated in a heavily forested area and strives to integrate into the landscape, remaining lower than the surrounding trees and allowing vegetation to form part of the interior vernacular.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Mikael Olsson | HK productions

 

 

The chapel is experienced not as a standalone structure but as part of a linear journey through the site, beginning with a trail emerging from a roundabout leading guests through the chapel and exiting from the rear. Local stone was used to build the foundation, which is visible from the exterior and interior and supports a series of east-west-oriented slanted concrete rings gradually growing in radius to eventually form the chapel hall. Like a row of dominoes in mid-fall, the spaced arches are filled with continuous obscured glass skylights that diffuse constant natural light throughout the day.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the american pioneer of organic architecture
image © The Onion House, Hawaii

 

 

The interior, marked by stone, concrete, vegetation and natural light feels, like an ancient and primitive spiritual space, engulfing visitors with sweeping overhead curves and rough textures. Custom wooden fixtures accent the otherwise stone/concrete interior, with custom designed doors and pews that add a touch of warmth to the Hoshino Stone Church. 

 





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