Echo Park’s black-and-white homes going for a lot of green

Blackbirds homes on Vestal Street

Blackbirds homes on Vestal Street

Eastside PropertyECHO PARK —  A grand opening is planned this Sunday for the stark black-and-white homes of the Blackbirds development, with prices expected to range from the high $700,000 range to about a million dollars, according to local brokers.

Located near Vestal and Baxter streets, the 18-homes designed by architect Barbara Bestor resemble industrial-like sheds with pointed roofs and large windows. The two and three-story homes range in size from about 1,300 to nearly 2,000-square feet.

Prices at some of the other nearby new housing developments have topped $900,000. But Blackbirds would be the first to see new homes priced at about or above a million dollar. The homes will be sold in phases but details were not available. One three-bedroom home with 1,582-square-feet of space was listed on Redfin at $955,000.

The Eastsider contacted a representative for the builder for more details.

Bestor, who has designed numerous residential and commercial properties across Echo Park and Silver Lake,  has won critical acclaim for her work.  But the Blackbirds project was opposed by many residents concerned that the development,  which required the demolition of several old homes, was not in keeping with the surroundings and would reduce street parking.

blackbirds development nearing completion in echo park 6-2-2015 10-15-54 AM

blackbirds development nearing completion in echo park 6-2-2015 10-16-15 AM

blackbirds map



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  1. I can’t figure out why, but I really like the look of these.

    • That’s funny. It’s just an opinion, but i find these to be so ugly. I know a lot of people are praising the design, which the cynic in me says is simply because a ‘starchitect’ designed it.

      For me, the black matte color makes it look imposing and unfriendly. the size of this complex really doe loom over the neighbors. The kitchens are way to white, but that’s just my persona; taste from growing up with 90’s white kitchens
      I like the late windows in the bottom, but they then seem to make the smaller windows up top look really tiny.. It just looks a little misshapen to me. Some may like that it’s hard to tell where one unit ends and another begins, but to me it just looks like a black blob complex.

    • I was thinking the same! Normally not my style at all. (More of a red-tiled Spanish/Mediterranean sorta guy.)

      Maybe it’s the clouds in the first shot, but there’s something coastal New England about it. Meets shipping container. Ha. Do oddly like the look, though.

    • I like the look too – simple and kind of classic. They sure look massive though – partly because they’re perched on the side of a pretty steep hill.

      It will be interesting to see how they feel at street level, once the landscaping is done and has had some time to grow.

  2. This development is going to make Vestal a terrible place to live.

    • I’m laughing at your hysterically pretentious comment. Love it or not, they exist, and they aren’t likely to destroy the neighborhood. You do realize that Echo Park has been gentrifying with awful flips and truly, truly ugly new homes, right? Everyone has an opinion, but try to dial back the black cape and emoting.

  3. You’re gonna have a pretty nice view from your pad if you live here.

  4. I still don’t understand an all black house in a city that sees nearly 300 days of sunshine per year. It has to be woefully energy inefficient.

    • Exactly my first thought. Million $ Black house in the desert. Genius. Same fool eats at pinks all the time too

    • agreed — painting your home here black is a bad idea. beyond the dubious atheistical choice, it’s a heat trap.

      at least the city has made it so you have to install “cool roofs” if you build a new place a replace a roof.

      so, I’m assuming the roofs are reflecting some of the heat that the black walls are sucking in?

      • I installed a cool roof on my home when I purchased it in 2011, but it was on option, not a requirement. Also, cool roofs are generally white, the roofs on the black houses are as black as the rest of them.

        Part of the idea of cool (i.e., white) roofs is also that they don’t reflect stupid amounts of heat back into the atmosphere, which of course these will.

  5. I don’t get your point. If you look at the second photo you can see the units have stacks of air conditioning units outside of each one so it isn’t like people aren’t going to be able to control the temperature inside.

    • Yes…air conditioning units which will have to run overtime to counteract the fact that the all black exterior of the house heats up to ridiculous temperatures in the blazing sun…hence, woefully energy inefficient.

      • I wonder if that’s true, given the incredible improvements in insulation. I mean, most of the homes built before the 1960’s had little to no insulation. Yes, the earliest ones were built with wide, shaded porches, and large windows to allow the breeze to cool the house, but … so many people have added air conditioning to these poorly insulated structures, That’s the real crime. I suspect that these Bestor ‘black and white’ homes have pretty high end insulation. It’d be a fantastic experiment to see what the air conditioning usage is between the dark and light homes. 🙂

  6. They are certainly better than those tall skinny boxes that are going up everywhere else and the sloped roofs fit in with the hills better than those of aforementioned boxes. However, I wish the sanction on pack ing small lots with a lot of houses had never happened.

    I do hate black as a color on or in houses,, and hope the trend goes away soon!

  7. I love that all the design magazines and blogs have been going on about how amazing this project is, especially how green it is. The Bestor marketing machine has been working overtime since the day she graduated from school so nobody ever asks any hard questions like how many hundreds of cubic feet of earth did you have to lop off the hillside to make this little faux village viable?

  8. I saw them today. They’re really well thought out, beautifully designed and considering what other places are going for in the neighborhood not that outrageously priced. But I understand that they are also kind of text book gentrification. But if you’re going to have that happen, as it already has, these are at least really good looking homes.

  9. These town homes, like most newer developments, have been designed with the goal of creating the most square footage while spending the least amount of money. The siding, aluminum slide windows, and simple boxy shapes make them look like cheaply built large sheds. The central court seems to be entirely of poured concrete with no space for gardening. The stark highly contrasting black and white cause these homes to stand out in a contrived and affected manner. This is an area that has such good weather and wonderful breezes that you can go without air conditioning or heating most days of the year, but these homes do not take advantage of that with their large non-opening windows and few small aluminum slide windows. The concrete court and black paint will increase temperatures. These homes seemed to be designed by a contractor/developer rather than an architect. Richard Neutra is rolling over in his grave.

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