George Löf House, 1956-2013

By ANTHONY DENZER, Ph.D., M.Arch.

Sad but not surprising news: The George Löf house — one of the seminal buildings in the history of the solar house and certainly a modernist landmark worthy of protection and preservation — was destroyed recently. I visited the Denver site on June 22 and found a large excavation and a foundation (presumably) for a McMansion.

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The George Lof House, Photo credit: Historic Denver, Inc.

Prior to the demolition, the Löf house was in original condition, including the flat-plate solar collectors (air heaters) on the roof. It had hardly been touched since its construction 57 years ago, not even a coat of paint in my estimation. At that time the house was vacant and for sale. Löf died in 2009, having lived there for 53 years.

As I document and discuss in great detail in my book, The Solar House: Engineering Sustainable Design, the Löf house was remarkable for its technical innovation and for the sympathetic relationship between the architects (James Hunter of Boulder, assisted by Tician Papachristou) and the engineer Löf. The design was celebrated in the New York Times for its heating system and Hunter’s “modern lines.” I visited Dr. Löf at the house just a few months before his death. He was bright and we had a long conversation. He gave me the original set of blueprints to the house, and I suspect, sadly, that he recognized that the drawings wouldn’t be needed by the next owners of the property.

A member of the ASES Board, Anthony Denzer, Ph.D., M.Arch., is an associate professor of architectural engineering at the University of Wyoming.

This article is adapted from his blog: solarhousehistory.com

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