The Architect's Notebook

Great Houses in the Movies

Hollywood has presented use with some great architectural and urban design ideas over the years. One of the best essays I remember writing back in uni was one comparing the city design depicted in two different movies. So while watching a great Alfred Hitchcock movie a little while ago, I thought of writing this post on great houses in Hollywood movies. So here are four of my favourites:

1.  North By Northwest (1959) – Vandamm House

Iconic and well-remembered by most people who have seen the Hitchcock masterpiece, the house on top of Mount Rushmore is a striking example of Modernist 1950’s architecture…or is it? Sadly, this house is not real but rather an elaborate movie set at MGM Studios in Culver City, California. MGM set Designers Robert Boyle, William A. Horning, Merrill Pye, Henry Grace, and Frank McKelvey were instructed by Hitchock to design the house in the style of Frank Lloyd-Wright – the most popular architect of the time.

2.  The Ghost Writer (2010) – Martha’s Vineyard Beach House

Again, Hollywood worked its magic and created a house that wasn’t a real house – just a set in Germany. The facade for exterior shots was built at Usedom, and the interior scenes were done on sets constructed at Babelsberg Studios in Potsdam. Like the Vandamm House, this “dream” house uses lots of hard textures and natural stone and timber throughout the interior and exterior.

3.  Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) – Ben Rose House

Finally – real house! The house, designed by A. James Speyer, for textile designers Ben & Fran Rose, was built in 1953. But it is the 1970 Pavilion addition, designed by David Haid that we remember best. The windows of the pavilion were replaced with “candy glass” so Ferris’ friend’s dad’s classic Ferrari could be pushed right through them!

4.  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011) – Overby

Designed by John Robert Nilsson, the house is on Varmdo, one of the many islands near Stockholm. Clean, crisp and modern and in direct contrast to its rustic setting, the house is largely built from plaster, steel, white ash wood, limestone and floor-to-ceiling glass.

So – what do you think? Have I missed any? What’s your favourite house in the movies? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

By |2017-02-01T14:05:37+00:00November 22nd, 2015|0 Comments

About the Author:

Melissa Fleming
Principal architect, founder and director of Metroworks Architects, Melissa has been involved in the industry full-time since graduating with Honours from Deakin University in 1995. She has single-handedly developed her business into a multi-award winning, boutique practice that offers high quality and personalised architectural solutions - specialising in the design of new homes and major renovations.

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