Architect Harold W. Levitt is perhaps best remembered for the homes he designed for Hollywood’s elite, including Burt Lancaster, Steven Spielberg, and Lew Wasserman.
“Hal” Levitt started his practice in 1953 after working for the famous residential architects Roland Coate and, later, Burton Schutt. Levitt’s work reflects the best modern design philosophies of mid-century Los Angeles. The intermixing and re-interpenetration of the indoors and outdoors was used extensively in his projects. Large glass surfaces, interior courtyards, and surprising entry sequences exist throughout his residential work and blur the boundary between the interior and exterior. In many of his homes, Hal Levitt designed a solid large-scale door (or double doors) that appears from the street as the entrance to the home, but the portal will lead instead to a protected courtyard. In recent years, aficionados of mid-century-modern design excellence have brought Hal Levitt back into the vanguard: celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston, MaryKate & Ashley Olsen, Ellen De Generes & Portia DeRossi, and Darren Starr have each famously acquired and updated their prize Levitts, later selling them for soaring prices. While many Levitts have been razed or significantly altered, the best of his intact residences are centered in Beverly Hills, specifically, in the Trousdale Estates enclave.
Harold Levitt also designed many notable commercial projects such as the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas and the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences Building in Los Angeles. Harold Levitt was born in San Francisco on July 26, 1921. He earned a bachelor’s degree in graphic arts at Stanford University and an architecture degree at University of Southern California. He retired from his own practice to Reno, Nevada at age 79, and died from natural causes two years later.