Eichlers have a signature mid-century look: flat or low gabled roofs, horizontal forms, plenty of windows for natural light. Joseph Eichler’s designs defined middle-class homes at the time, as did his work toward fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, according to Dwell. Born to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler was sensitive to the common practices housing discrimination and believed if a buyer was qualified, there was no reason not to sell them a home. He went on to organize California’s housing issues convention, assisted in writing the state’s fair housing law, consulted with the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency, and more.
Joseph Eichler’s name is synonymous with the stylish, midcentury homes that his development company brought to the suburbs of California. His role in fighting for fair housing policies and integrated neighborhoods, however, is lesser known.
Born in 1900 in New York City to German Jewish immigrants, Eichler founded the eponymous Eichler Homes, which built more than 11,000 residences concentrated in Northern and Southern California. He worked with leading architects of the day—Anshen & Allen, Oakland & Associates, Jones & Emmons, A. Quincy Jones, and Raphael Soriano—to design the distinctive dwellings that are now simply known as Eichlers and still coveted today.