Cliff May: Cliff May house #4 (Los Angeles, Calif.)


Cliff May house 4, or the Skylight house, illustrates May’s eagerness to experiment, something he was particularly willing to do in the houses he designed for his family. Christian (Chris) Choate and May together designed it, with landscaping by Thomas Church. Choate, a licensed architect, worked in May’s office and became a partner with May in Cliff May Homes, producing prefabricated tract housing. The experimentation in this house clearly came out of their discussions about low-cost housing.
The house was unusual, especially for Riviera Ranch, because it did not sprawl but was rectangular and compact in its plan. May and Choate brought the patio inside the dwelling and covered it with a large skylight, about 30 feet by 50 feet, which had a retractable glass cover that was opened and closed by a motor. May collapsed most of the rooms into a single space that could be customized by moving around cabinets on wheels that served as temporary walls.


Cliff May, architect
Chris Choate, architect
Maynard Parker, photographer


Cliff May papers, Architecture and Design Collection. Art, Design & Architecture Museum; University of California, Santa Barbara.


circa 1949


Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.

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Cliff May, architect Chris Choate, architect Maynard Parker, photographer, “Cliff May: Cliff May house #4 (Los Angeles, Calif.),” UCSB ADC Omeka, accessed November 23, 2020,