Silent footage of the grotto construction at the Playboy Mansion (aka Playboy West) in Holmby Hills, California. Includes footage of engineers, architects (The Dirsmith Group) and workers constructing the site as well as footage of Hugh Hefner examining the grounds. Others featured in the reel include Barbi Benton, Gene Siskel and Shel Silverstein.
Hugh Hefner hired The Dirsmith Group out of Highland Park, Illinois to design the pool and surrounding gardens of the Playboy Mansion. The Dirsmith Group is an architecture, landscape, and engineering firm headed by Ron and Suzanne Dirsmith, who worked previously with Hefner to design and construct his downtown Chicago offices. Hefner gave them 120 days after the concept design drawings were presented to complete the Playboy Mansion project. The entire project took place from May through September of 1971.
At the time of construction filmmaker Rhodes Patterson was working for Container Corporation of America on a special commission from Walter Paepcke, founder and CEO of CCA, to create a series of documentary films on the creative individual in contemporary society. The footage shot was to be part of a series entitled "Great Ideas of Western Man". This was an outgrowth of Hutchins' and Adlers' "Great Books of the Western World" series of 54 volumes (now 60) originally published by Encyclopedia Britannica in 1952. Books that were chosen had to be relevant to contemporary societal issues, important in their historical context to reward re-reading, and be a continuing conversation about great ideas.
Rhodes Patterson and the Paepckes decided to include Suzanne's and Ron's work in their "Great Ideas of Western Man" film series. Rhodes met Suzanne and Ron when they had returned from their 2 year odyssey as Fellow in Architecture at the American Academy in Rome. They had just designed and built the famed Bubble House with Eldon Danhausen, sculptor, which became their first design studio at 1418 N. LaSalle Street. Rhodes began filming the Dirsmiths' design and construction of the highly sculptural Playboy corporate offices in the venerable Palmolive Building on North Michigan Avenue and the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois. During that same period Rhodes flew out with them on many occasions to film the construction of Hugh Hefner's famed Grotto, Ponds and Pool environments they had designed and were building for his Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills California for the same film series.