A few years ago Padaro Lane, a tony stretch of houses on the beach in Carpinteria, just east of Santa Barbara, California, buzzed with rumors that director George Lucas had purchased the most spectacular home on a street lined with other stunners. Originally listed for about $35 million, the house, designed by sculptor turned entrepreneur Sherrill Broudy, had languished for years on the market despite its 1.7-acre lot and 150 feet of shoreline. Then came news reports stating Mr. Lucas had acquired the property for slightly less than $20 million and was moving forward with plans for a new home. By this July, the demolition of the existing house had begun.
Built in 1981, 3389 Padaro Lane was one of just a few buildings designed by Broudy, who had initially worked as a sculptor. He created simple yet sophisticated environmental art in wood or copper that served as ornaments for the modernist buildings he designed. In 1956, Broudy partnered with Jerome and Evelyn Ackerman to form ERA Industries, which became one of the foremost manufacturers of midcentury furnishings in Los Angeles. In 1963, Broudy left the firm to found Panelcarve, which later became Forms+Surfaces, a source for high-end architectural materials still in operation today.
Broudy’s business savvy may have pulled him in a direction away from a full-time career in architecture, but he did manage to create a masterpiece on Padaro Lane. (Not even Kevin Costner’s exceptional Andy Neumann-designed home at the other end of the beach comes close.) The house resembled the work of Conrad Buff and Donald Hensman in the 1980s, yet it had a level of detail and sophistication absent in their work of that era.
And Broudy had an advantage. His background as a sculptor allowed him to create wood and copper detailing that recalled the best of his environmental art and granted the compound an Asian or perhaps Hawaiian look. His masterful eye extended throughout the site, where he laid out a gym, an art studio, and a lap pool in such a way as to create a tropical oasis that completely shut out the annoying din of the nearby 101 freeway.
Certainly this house was no Neutra, Schindler, or Lautner. But it’s yet another beloved modernist masterpiece that succumbed to the wrecking ball. The design of Lucas’ new home, by California-based Marc Appleton, has yet to be published. Though Appleton once worked with Frank Gehry, the design may end up being closer to the Spanish Colonial Revival style of his hero, George Washington Smith—well-executed, but part of a larger shift away from modernism.