Flintstone HouseWilliam Nicholson
45 Berryessa Way, Hillsborough, CA, 94010, United States
The home can be seen from the Doran Memorial Bridge (Interstate 280).
About the Artist/Site
This Hillsborough iconic landmark, seen from highway 280, was designed in 1976 by Bay Area architect William Nicholson, the single family residence boasts multiple domes that were constructed by spraying shotcrete onto steel rebar and mesh frames over inflated aeronautical balloons. San Francisco builder, Wayne Da San Martino, managed the project. Originally painted off-white, this unique organic building was painted orange in 2007 and now sports a purple dome.
Tourists and travelers alike admire and are in awe of this exceptional residence nestled into the hillside overlooking Crystal Springs Reservoir. The reception from Hillsborough residents has been mixed through the years. It is purported that one Hillsborough resident at the time founded an architectural review board specifically to keep out experimental architecture.
In the spirit of the style, the owner enhanced the interior to match her esthetic. She commissioned Emeryville architect, Eugene Tsui, to design her kitchen. Tsui is famous for designing many unusual buildings and structures in the U.S. and Asia. Lighted niches and appliance enclosures, glass countertop encased with a diagonal metal spine, wood cutout swinging doors, drawers and cabinets were custom designed and “biologic.” Burning Man artist, Dan Das Mann, fabricated beautiful steel doors that have cut coils protruding from the surface. Oakland artist, John Lewis Glass Studio, created the custom glasswork in the kitchen and guest bath. Tim Weldon paintings grace many of the open curved walls. The owner chose unusually thick stone Jerusalem tiles to cover most of the house.
Da San Martino describes his part in the interior design. “Nicholson designed the basic form, then he pretty much gave us free reign. (We built) a huge conversation pit, with the window cut at a level to hide the freeway, but show the reservoir.” The owner enhanced the room with specially made orange colored plaster for the circular seating area that is embellished with a tangerine cushion and pillows. This intimate warm setting is enriched by the height of the dome, fireplace, amoeba shaped window showcasing Crystal Springs Reservoir, and an Italian Catellani and Smith medusa chandelier hanging from the high pitch of the dome.
The home was purchased by Florence Fang, the former owner of the San Francisco Examiner, in 2017 for $2.8 million. Since moving in, Fang has embellished the property with several large dinosaur sculptures, multicolored mushrooms, a giraffe and a woolly mammoth, among other additions. According to a March 2019 article in The New York Times, neighbors have filed complaints about the changes, and a panel of code enforcement officials declared the updates a "public nuisance." Fang's family insists they "will fight" to protect the property and the recent additions.
~Jo Farb Hernández, 2016
Update - July 2021: The legal dispute regarding the sculptures Florence Fang installed on the Flintstone House property has been settled. The town of Hillsborough will pay Fang $125,000, and she has agreed to comply with all permit applications moving forward. Read more here.
shotcrete on steel
Map & Site Information
45 Berryessa Way
Hillsborough, CA, 94010 us
Latitude/Longitude: 37.5313137 / -122.3590704
San Mateo, California
San Francisco, California
San Francisco, CA