Our renovation uncovers the underlying geometry of a 1952 Whitney Smith home that had been obscured by decades of compromises.
The two wings of this house, book-ended by diamond-shaped roof profiles, converge at the anchoring mass of a fireplace. While the ceilings suggest a structure that traces back to the generative form of the diamond, that connection had been buried over by earlier remodels. Recognizing this relationship as the dynamic through-line of the building, we sought to foreground it and to make it reverberant through the house.
Working within the pre-established structural rhythm, we peeled away layers to reveal visual connections and to accentuate relationships. We introduced functional amenities and articulated spaces for clarity and flow. We threaded the diamond through, its expressions respond to conditions at different junctures of the house.
Located on the slope of a shallow oak-studded valley, the secluded one-acre was once part of a grand estate. In 1954, a house was built near the highest elevation of the site. The sense of place that the house and the native landscape represented, led the Owners to decide to sensitively extend the house and to build a series of satellite pavilions to provide for their needs.
A collection of pavilions, are sited in the clearings of mature oaks, and for the vantage point of the main house. In the desire minimize their perceived footprints, the project is an exercise in blurring figure and ground; building and landscape.
Navigating the tension between an imposed geometry and the natural topography, each pavilion evolves its form as they move across the site, from the cardinal order of the original house to the shifting geometry of the land. Each establishes a distinct relationship to main house based on its program; and each, to varying degrees, opens up to and melds its built-form into the natural landscape. Roofs become ground planes, inside becomes outside; each structure supporting a relationship or a pursuit that matters deeply to the Owners.
This all-electric dwelling is designed for any solar orientation, offers different entry approaches and site adaptability to most level lots. Its one-bedroom layout can be modified to accommodate a two-bedroom arrangement and its bathroom can be made universally accessible.
Designed around an L-shaped indoor-outdoor zone where living and kitchen-dining spaces extend into a working courtyard, the plan incorporates the outdoor for everyday living. The 2-bedroom alternative commissions the kitchen area into a second bedroom and assigns the kitchen-dining functions to the living area.
A circulation spine accommodates over-head storage and mechanical needs. Doors and windows are strategically placed for privacy, ventilation, natural light, spatial flow and borrowed views. A staggered series of fences provides soft-edged screening from the main residence and other parts of the property. An optional roof terrace extends outdoor living possibilities.
Intended for an individual, a couple or a small family, this 795 sf dwelling is calibrated to be a self-contained microcosm for living.
Publication: LADBS | Dwell | Architectural Record | Wallpaper | Architect Magazine | Los Angeles Times
Built on the posts and beams skeleton of an existing pergola, the Ceramics Studio‘s enclosure consists of glazing applied directly to shelves that are suspended between the original columns. This system provides ample storage, natural light and filtered views by day, and transforms into a glowing vitrine of pots and artifacts by night. A bank of shelves breaks free of the rectilinear footprint to respond to the geometry of the main house. The resulting exterior display ledges accentuates the dematerialized nature of the pergola, and defines a kitchen garden court for outdoor living.
Sited at the parking court, the Library Studio marks a gateway to the interior of the property. Taking its geometry from the main house, its matching roof slope rises to accommodate a tall canted wall of north-facing glass that surrenders to the view of sheltering oaks. From the living room overlook, the building’s planted roof reads as a sloping tapestry of sedums floating beyond a foreground of grasses.
Located at a far corner of the property, the Guest House turns its back to the main house, revealing only its planted roofs. Approached through a passage tucked behind a retaining wall; the structure emphasizes seclusion, yet its airy interior opens through tall walls of glass to oak-shaded patios. Fitted throughout with built-in furnishings, it is a compact, inviting and self-sufficient retreat.
The pool house presents itself as a graceful pavilion partially floating over the water’s edge. Its butterfly roof, cantilevered from a stout central concrete tower houses a brick oven and a fireplace, providing a two-sided hearth for cooking and dining. Large sliding doors transform the dining area into an open affair overlooking the water while a fireplace-adjacent built-in daybed hovers over the treetops.
Through the center of the hearth, a concrete stair winds it way down, first to a landing for washing and changing, and past the inner sanctum of the spa. Below the sundeck, and against a length of a concrete wall, the gym opens to a woodland landscape as its outer edge bends in response to the terrain. At the far end, a light shaft penetrates from above, and a concrete canopy rises to mark the linkage to the guest house and reconnection to the landscape above.
At once building and landscape, the Blodgett-Calvin Pool House replaces the grounded predictability of the everyday; and evokes the visceral otherness that is encountered in the simplest and most primitive forms of shelter.
Set apart from and overlooking the landscape, the original house, designed by Calvin Straub, consists of four distinct wings that converged at a closed-in kitchen.
Below the shallow gable roofs, the house subscribes to a rigorous set of rules concerning structure, material and detail. Working off this matrix, the current update sets out to introduce a connectivity that was lacking and weave in a set of new experiences.
Jettisoning hallways and walls in the public spaces, the new open plan is redefined by strategically placed cabinetry and ceiling planes. Each adjoining outdoor court is re-commissioned into purposeful spaces with improved connection to the interior. In the main bedroom, a linear bathing zone weaves seductively into the bedroom and out to a shower garden, blurring the line between what is in and what is out.
Weaving into an existing mid-century campus fabric that includes the work of architects Smith and Williams and landscape architect Garrett Eckbo, Sequoyah’s expansion echos the spirit of the original architecture, while providing a sustainable, contemporary interpretation for a new generation.
The new L-shaped building turns its back against a freeway off ramp to frame a generous central courtyard. A two-story classroom structure features an north-rising ceiling to provide efficient daylight, passive cooling and heating. Moveable partitions, bay window lofts and exterior “seminar pods” support Sequoyah’s flexible class sizes and focused student group work. Separated by an intimate courtyard, a soaring one-story structure houses the performing arts and transforms into an all-school assembly space. Expressed plywood clad roof trusses rise to a clerestory providing daylight and sound attenuation. An exterior wall slides open to an ample outdoor stage that addresses the central courtyard for community-wide performances.
Publication: Architectural Record
Designed for a semi-retired man, the house is a matrix of interpenetrating volumes that can accommodate a diversity of living arrangements.
Sited on a north-facing slope with panoramic views, the building’s cubic exterior is eroded by a roof terrace. Carved into the top level, roof terrace clerestories allow southern light to penetrate deep into the living space below.
Steel clad beams that support the high roof soar over the terrace and land on pylons that skeletally complete the volume. A perpendicular set of beams and pylons suspend the lower carport roof and span over the entry bridge that meets the house between the second and third levels. A half flight of stairs up is an office/guest room that overlooks the living area and accesses the roof terrace. Half a level down is the main living spaces, master suite and space for a future elevator that would accommodate accessible living.
The lowest level houses an apartment that, with its own entry, functions as a caregiver’s suite, a rental unit or an additional workspace.
Constructed from recycled materials (glass, hardiboard, corrugated steel, and redwood) this poolhouse addition provides bath facilities for pool and guesthouse, while exploring the notion of tenuous enclosure.
Redwood evokes the warmth of the sauna, while glass mosaic tiles reflect the light that showers from a skylight above the bath basin. A casement window provides a horizontal view out to the garden. Honed slate and maple further complete the sensory palette for this interior.
We conceived our dwelling as a flexible environment that evolves with our changing needs. Its spaces can be perceived as a play of volumetric contrasts experienced through multiple paths.
The living quarters are located above a tall light-filled garage volume. Entered through a shaded garden and a compressed foyer, the living space soars to culminate in north-facing clerestories that provide even light and passive cooling throughout the day. Tucked against the hill, the kitchen-dining space extends laterally to patios and views. A central open stair organizes public spaces into living and service functions, and links a study to the private spaces above.
Around the exterior, a terrace on the garage roof bridges to a ground level dining patio, from which one may ascend to the upper garden and re-enter the house through a common room.
Designed by Gregory Ain in 1963, the Kaye Residence was organized as a series of hexagonal spaces with in rectilinear wings. In addition to its over-all restoration, our work involved the reconfiguration of a master bedroom suite, and the design of a pool house that remains un-built.
In the living areas we introduced built-in furnishings based on indications on Ain’s original drawings. Responding to the diagonal sides of the rooms, these in-situ furnishings destabilize the symmetries and introduce to the spaces a layer of complexity.
In the master bedroom suite, using the edge of the hexagon as a movement generator, we choreographed a ricochet against a wall of windows, creating a procession from sleeping, to dressing, to bathing. Residual spaces are in-filled with auxiliary functions, restoring the hexagons as centering yet dynamic stages for the most primary of daily rituals.
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Replacing a home destroyed in a fire, this dwelling honors the Owner’s desire to for it to fit into the neighborhood fabric and to incorporate the physical memory of the former home. The resulting design re-interprets existing stylistic elements and give them new purpose while exhibiting the formal rationality and structural expression that characterize our work.
At once, a one-person retreat and a generational home that accommodate family for extended visits, the house is hospitable to large groups indoors and outdoors while providing privacy for each of several bedroom suites.
An articulated structural system evokes the memory of half timbering. Alternating volumes under the gabled roofs soar to lofty heights along the northern length and opens to spacious outdoor rooms along its other three edges. A large pivoting glass door stands in for the ubiquitous picture window and opens to a patio screened from the street by a lush garden. The family room and kitchen form a court around a generous dining deck.
Well-modulated southern glazing enables light penetration deep into the spaces in the winter and cooling by prevailing breezes in the summer.
Publication: Los Angeles Times
Starting with a post-WWII concrete-block house with little room for horizontal expansion, we devised a strategy that adhered mostly to the original footprint but dramatically reshaped the volumes.
An existing attached one-car garage is deployed as an office/music niche. Its front wall is brought forward to the setback line and laps over the living area to introduce an entry foyer. Angled and offset from the existing house, it wraps into the curve of an ascending spiral stair. An asymmetric, diagonally oriented butterfly roof hovers over the new mezzanine and existing living room, doubling the height of the latter.
Light, planar materials of glass, lexan, perforated aluminum, corrugated steel, play off of the solidity of the original concrete block, transforming this dwelling into a contradiction of gravity and loftiness.
This 20,000 square foot film production facility inhabits two 1940s masonry warehouse bays, separated by a bearing wall that allowed very limited open passage between the spaces.
We were charged with designing a dynamic work environment with administrative and technical wings that include offices, workshops, editing rooms, equipment cage and long sight lines for camera staging.
We introduced a circular conference room that becomes the vortex of the environment. It straddles the central dividing wall and propels into motion a series of ripples whose trajectories penetrate and diminish the separation while establishing auxiliary spaces for informal gathering.
A new 2,400sf residence and 1,100sf artist studio nestled into a hilly half acre of native wilderness.
The project is a linear composition of three elements: A north-facing saw-tooth roof identifies the studio. A carved-out corner of a downward-arching roof marks the beginning of the sequence into the living quarters. A carport roof bridges between the above two elements and preserves the view from the street through to the canyon below.
On the lower level, the kitchen, dining, and living areas tuck under the arching roof and the carport. Against a board formed concrete retaining wall, the hallway narrows and widens, activated by the alternating bedrooms and baths which slide free under the rectilinear mass of the studio above.
This project is a study in the transiency and permanence of materials and in the interplay of dynamic movement against an armature of modular components.
Publication: Los Angeles Times | Der Standard
North Hill presented an opportunity to engage a building that is an integral part of the multi-layered fabric of the city. Developed in the 1940s, this portion of LA’s Chinatown has historically sported a public face that invited the outside world, and a back stage where families lived and labored, where the living had sometimes spilled into the alleys and plazas. This urban pattern of use has, in the last decade, invited a wave of artists and gallery-ists to the area. Through a grant from the Community Redevelopment Agency, our client invited us to help redefine the building for a new generation of use.
We started by striping the building down to its concrete shell and introducing a lighter infill of cabinetry and movable walls. The tall volume of the main gallery counterpoints intimate art-viewing areas and workspaces tucked away from public view. At the facade, shifted planes of glass and steel create a perception of depth. An indoor-outdoor entry foyer dissolves the edge of where the street ends and where the private space begins. A sliding and pivoting circular gate modulates varying degrees of openness for different events with playful reference to the changing phases of the moon.
Sited on a gentle swath of land, Rome deploys simple forms to create a dynamic of relationships between interior and exterior spaces. The L-shaped house, together with its carport and connecting retaining walls create two informal courts. The procession begins at the arrival court, ascends along a pair of concrete walls, and bypasses a private court to reach the main level.
Bedrooms at lower level opens to the private court centered around a pepper tree. Upper level living space stretches from a cantilevered deck with city views, through a dining area, to a pine-shaded patio and the gentle hill. An open kitchen and a core of cabinetry surround a three-story stair tower that culminates at the library-mezzanine over-looking the dining area. This stair tower imparts natural light deep into the interior; and along with clerestories at the mono-slope roofs, enables convective cooling throughout the house.