The Brenton House - Boulder Colorado
N 40° 02.578 W 105° 17.282
13T E 475428 N 4432566
Quick Description: Also known as "The Mushroom House" it was designed by Charles A. Haertling in 1969
Location: Colorado, United States
Date Posted: 11/28/2010 4:32:02 PM
Waymark Code: WMA7P8
From the Brenton House page: (visit link
During his Navy years Haertling spent a lot of time chipping barnacles from ships' hulls. A barnacle is a crustacean that attaches itself to a submerged object and then forms a hard curvilinear encrustation around itself. In the late 1960s the barnacle form was to be the inspiration for a house he designed for Dr. Stanley Brenton and his family. A sketch shows the barnacle influence.
The Brentons selected a beautiful site in Wonderland Hills subdivision directly above a lake with views of the mountains and sunset to the west, downtown Boulder and high noon to the south, and the plains and sunrise to the east. For two years they worked with Haertling on a design, often sitting on the site with the Brentons and talking about family, life, art and music.
They liked the Volsky house and the Boulder Eye Clinic, and the way that aesthetics are combined with those building's function. Dr. Brenton was also very interested in a new building material, polyurethane foam. Haertling offered the family several designs in the form of clay and balsa wood models. The whole family agreed on a clay model that looks like a cluster of bubbles. Haertling proposed a radial design for strength with a garden in the middle, orienting banacle-like pods to frame the most spectacular views. Gunite originally was considered as a building material, but would have been too heavy for the cantilevers, so polyurethane foam over a steel wire form was used.
The top floor houses Dr. Brenton's study, which looks like a mushroom from the street side. The main level is across all five pods. Three of them are one story only, and two are two stories. The two pods with lesser views hold the garage and dressing room of the master bedroom, while the three central pods with good views house a music room (Mrs. Brenton is a musician and piano teacher), a family room and a kitchen/dining room, each with balconies, including the master bedroom. Their four girls had separate rooms in the bottom floor off of a central recreation area with two shared balconies.
The house has enjoyed a good deal of notoriety. The National Enquirer once featured it in its "Weird Houses" column, and Woody Allen used it for a brief sequence in his 1973 film, Sleeper.
During construction of the Brenton house CAH filmed many interesting sequences. A video copy of a film, by Joel Haertling, incorporating this footage is available in VHS format. The tape also includes documentation of other CAH designs. A book of Charles A. Haertling's designs is also available.