I recently came across the listing for Raphael Soriano’s Austrian Spencer House in Silver Lake California. I wasn’t really familiar with Soriano’s work but was quite surprised after doing some research. He was one of the first architects to use prefabbed steel and aluminum in his homes, Soriano is credited as designing the first mass-produced steel home, which was later built by tract-housing pioneer Joseph Eichler.
In 1930 Soriano became an American citizen and in 1931 he secured an internship at the practice of Richard Neutra, working alongside fellow interns Gregory Ain and Harwell Hamilton Harris. This was followed by a brief internship with Rudolph Schindler in 1934 then Soriano quickly returned to his unpaid position at Neutra’s office.
Soriano’s Colby Apartments of 1951 were distinct not only for their modern design but also for their extensive use of steel, and were recognized, receiving the National American Institute of Architects Award for Design, the VII International Pan American Congress Award, and the AIA Southern California Chapter One Honor Award.
In 1953 Soriano relocated from Los Angeles to Tiburon CA where he lived with his wife Elizabeth Stephens(Betty) and her two daughters Margaret and Lucille Coberly. By 1955 Soriano designed the first mass-produced steel house, built by developer Joseph Eichler. His work with Eichler won two awards from the AIA Northern California Chapter. Text & image from Triangle Modernist Houses