who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture

remembering kendrick bangs kellogg (1934-2024)

 

Last month, we bade farewell to American architect Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, the pioneer of organic architecture. Kellogg completed over a dozen striking structures, both residential and public, in the past few decades — each marked with his distinctly curved, irregular, and expressive style. Influenced by his ties to Frederick Law Olmsted, (the ‘Father of Landscape Architecture’), his independent architectural journey began after a brief meeting with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955. But unlike Wright and organic architect Bruce Goff, Kellogg’s approach explicitly defies categorization, often alluding to a mix of the Sydney Opera House and Stonehenge. In fact, the late architect 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 late 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. At certain moments, these natural elements pierce through the interior and become sculptural elements of the conditioned space. 

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late 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 late 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 late 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 late 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 0.9-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 late american pioneer of organic architecture
image © Agents of Architecture

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late 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 late 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 late 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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image © Mikael Olsson | HK productions

 

onion house in hawaii

 

The Onion House was commissioned by Elizabeth McCormick von Beck and designed by Kendrick Bangs Kellogg in 1962-1963. Located in Holualoa, Hawaii, the home features arched roof panels layered like an onion and lava rock walls, evoking ancient Hawaiian temples. Kellogg’s architectural vision, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, took a departure from conventional design principles with the Onion House, marking it as one of his most iconic creations. Kellogg collaborated with architect James Hubbell and metalworker William Slatton on the construction, incorporating intricate stained glass windows and metalwork details throughout the property.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture
image via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

 

The roof panels, supported by cast-in-place concrete arches, are adorned with hand-cut redwood shingles and steel spires. Their translucent skin pools natural light into the interior and emits a gentle and warm glow at night. The absence of exterior walls further blurs the boundaries between the home’s interior and the picturesque outdoor landscape. At the same time, a 21-meter-long pool envelops the main volume of Onion House, instilling a sense of calm and heightening a connection to the natural context.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture
image via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

 

The home, which turned into a vacation rental property in 2000, underwent renovations over the years, each overseen by Beth McCormick, Elizabeth McCormick von Beck’s very own niece. With its unconventional design and historical significance, the Onion House continues to be admired and enjoyed by guests staying in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

 

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image via Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

 

babcok house  in san diego

 

At 23, Kellogg designed the Babcock House in South Mission Beach, a striking contrast to its surrounding cottages, much like Rudolph Schindler’s Lovell Beach House on Balboa Island, completed three decades earlier. Initially desiring a Frank Lloyd Wright design, Russell and Virgie Babcock entrusted the untested talent of Kellogg to create an A-frame house. Architect Kay Kaiser observed in an insightful essay on Kellogg that the house’s soaring wooden prow draws inspiration from Polynesian architecture, popularized in the late 1940s by Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-tiki Expedition. Additionally, there are hints of Wright’s style in the repeated triangles, along with influences from Bruce Goff.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture
image via Kendrick Bangs Kellogg public page on Facebook

 

 

wingsweep in california

 

Wingsweep in Temecula, California, has earned national recognition and is celebrated as a modern masterpiece built in the tradition of Frank Lloyd Wright. It was honored as the top new architectural achievement of the 1990s and ranked among the top ten homes in America shortly after completion. Sited on a picturesque 52-acre ranch retreat two hours from Downtown Los Angeles, it embraces the rolling hills, oak groves, and scenic ponds. The property, once home to California’s largest llama operation, features a handcrafted residence with five bedrooms, seven baths, and grand indoor-outdoor entertaining spaces. The gathering room holds no vertical walls, is illuminated by an acrylic skylight, and is adorned with a massive stone fireplace. Wingsweep also includes a pond, stables, a professional greenhouse, and outbuildings.

who was kendrick bangs kellogg, the late american pioneer of organic architecture
image via IAA-NGO

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