Living West: New Residential Architecture in Southern California

Overview

A dense concentration of design talent, uniquely varied topography, and one of the world’s most pleasant climates have made Southern California a crucible of architectural innovation. There, forward-looking clients respond to dramatic modern interpretations of form and site that capitalize on natural light and magnificent ocean views, perch delicately on steeply graded land, or maximize privacy on a sliver of a city lot.

Thirty of the best designs by the most creative firms ...

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Overview

A dense concentration of design talent, uniquely varied topography, and one of the world’s most pleasant climates have made Southern California a crucible of architectural innovation. There, forward-looking clients respond to dramatic modern interpretations of form and site that capitalize on natural light and magnificent ocean views, perch delicately on steeply graded land, or maximize privacy on a sliver of a city lot.

Thirty of the best designs by the most creative firms portray the diversity of Southern California’s architecture. Author Sam Lubell draws examples from Montecito to San Diego and the arid conditions of Joshua Tree to illustrate the wide range of responses to geography, budget, and space. Featured architects include Barbara Bestor, Belzberg, Griffin Enright, Lorcan O’Herlihy, Michele Saee, the Office of Mobile Design, and Predock Frane, among others.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Cantilevered over Los Angeles, tucked into a San Diego cliff, or sprawled across the Joshua Tree desert, the houses of Southern California are some of the most exciting on the planet." —Fast Company
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781580932493
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press
  • Publication date: 10/13/2009
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 962,083
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 11.86 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Lubell is the editor of the California edition of the Architect’s Newspaper and has written for Architectural Record, the New York Times, New York magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and elsewhere.
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Read an Excerpt

From: Introduction

LOOK ACROSS A HILLSIDE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and you will see an unbelievable variety of residential styles, types, forms, and volumes. Traditional Mission-style haciendas mingle with sleek midcentury modern residences, tiny ranch houses, nondescript tract homes, huge McMansions, Victorians, ramshackle beach houses, and Arts and Crafts bungalows. In short, one of the most varied urban fabrics in the United States, if not the world.

To many this jumble represents freedom. Freedom from established, accepted aesthetics, from space limitations found in denser cities, and from harsh climates that limit a house's form and how it can interact with its surroundings. That freedom, combined with enlightened clients and a love for the single-family house, has made Southern California a center for residential innovation and experimentation for over a century. Millions of people have come to this beautiful stretch of land to start anew, and talented architects have been no exception.

From Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, John Lautner, and Pierre Koenig to Frank Gehry and Richard Meier, successive generations of experimental architects working in Southern California have continued to rethink contemporary conventions. They have broken the barriers that separate inside from outside, rethought how rooms and people should interact, and used inexpensive materials to create new building methods and styles. This tradition thrives even as new Southern California designers face challenges including a reduction in open land and ever more strict zoning regulations. Veteran firms as well as hungry young designers both prosper here. While influenced by the designs of their predecessors, they are adapting to—and are stimulated by—restrictions that force creative solutions. Innovative forms, plans, programs, and techniques continue to emerge regularly.

Perhaps above all, architects working in Southern California cannot be accused of being timid. They exploit new technologies to create innovative forms and structures, and to build in locations that were once deemed impossible. Striking examples include Escher GuneWardena's Jamie Residence in Pasadena, a rectangular structure lofted high in the air like a bridge to provide breathtaking views and minimize disruption of the land underneath, Patrick Tighe's Tigertail, with its angular, cantilevered second-floor roof shaped like an airplane wing, and Johnston Marklee's Hill House, with its seamless envelope and precarious site on the side of a steep ravine. Others, like Wallace Cunningham's Crescent House with its multiple ramps, terraces, and curving concrete forms, are as much sculpture as house.

These new structures, like the classic designs that came before them, are designed to embrace the varied, beautiful landscapes and benign climate of the area, just in different ways. Sliding glass doors, windows, and skylights continue to increase in size and in their ability to cleverly disappear discreetly into walls, opening structures fully to the outside. Houses today often meld unobtrusively into their surroundings, adopting the colors, textures, and even topography of the land they rest upon—Griffin Enright's Point Dume residence curves sinuously in response to its lot's natural undulations; its cladding and interior fittings were also chosen to match the surrounding hardscape. Safdie Rabines's aptly named Tree House in San Diego is perched on the edge of a heavily wooded ravine and thanks to outsized sliding doors and clerestory windows opens so completely that birds fly through it as if it were part of the forest itself.

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Table of Contents

ON CLIFF'S EDGE

Belzberg Architects | Skyline Residence | Los Angeles 2008

Johnston Marklee | Hill House | Pacific Palisades 2004

Callas Shortridge Architects | Rochman House | Los Angeles 2000

Predock Frane Architects | Twin Houses | Pacific Palisades 2008

Escher GuneWardena Architecture | Jamie House | Pasadena 2000

Safdie Rabines Architects | Tree House | San Diego 2000

URBAN INNOVATIONS

XTEN Architecture | Surfhouse | Hermosa Beach 2007

John Friedman Alice Kimm | King Residence | Santa Monica 2008

Steffen Leisner/Syntax | 1+3=1 House | Venice 2006

Lloyd Russell | R3 Triangle Building | San Diego 2006

Touraine Richmond Architects | One-Window House | Venice 2005

Michele Saee | Linnie House | Venice 2005

RADICAL TRANSFORMATIONS

Techentin Buckingham Architecture | Los Feliz Residence | Los Angeles 2008

Daly Genik | 823 Palms | Venice 2009

Studio Pali Fekete Architects | Beuth Residence | West Hollywood 2005

Tighe Architecture | Tigertail | Brentwood 2007

Steven Lombardi | 330 Neptune | Encinitas 2008

Neil M. Denari Architects | Alan-Voo House | Culver City 2007

OPEN AND AIRY

Abramson Teiger Architects | Kelly House | Brentwood 2006

Griffin Enright Architects | Point Dume Residence | Malibu 2007

Barbara Bestor Architecture | Marco Place | Venice 2009

Steven Ehrlich | 700 Palms Residence | Venice 2005

Jonathan Segal | Lemperle Residence | La Jolla 2008

ENVIRONMENTALLY MINDED

Sander Architects | Residence for a Briard | Culver City 2007

Office of Mobile Design | Seatrain | Los Angeles 2003

Pugh + Scarpa Architects | Solar Umbrella House | Venice 2005

Taalman Koch Architecture | Off-Grid ItHouse | Pioneertown 2007

MOUNTAINSIDE RETREATS

agps.architecture | Topanga Ranch | Topanga Canyon 2004

Lorcan O'Herlihy Architects | Jai House | Calabasas 2004

Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects | Montecito Residence | Montecito 2008

Kanner Architects | Malibu 5 | Malibu 2006

Aleks Istanbullu Architects | Lago Vista | Beverly Hills 2007

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Introduction

LOOK ACROSS A HILLSIDE IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA and you will see an unbelievable variety of residential styles, types, forms, and volumes. Traditional Mission-style haciendas mingle with sleek midcentury modern residences, tiny ranch houses, nondescript tract homes, huge McMansions, Victorians, ramshackle beach houses, and Arts and Crafts bungalows. In short, one of the most varied urban fabrics in the United States, if not the world.

To many this jumble represents freedom. Freedom from established, accepted aesthetics, from space limitations found in denser cities, and from harsh climates that limit a house's form and how it can interact with its surroundings. That freedom, combined with enlightened clients and a love for the single-family house, has made Southern California a center for residential innovation and experimentation for over a century. Millions of people have come to this beautiful stretch of land to start anew, and talented architects have been no exception.

From Frank Lloyd Wright, Rudolph Schindler, Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, John Lautner, and Pierre Koenig to Frank Gehry and Richard Meier, successive generations of experimental architects working in Southern California have continued to rethink contemporary conventions. They have broken the barriers that separate inside from outside, rethought how rooms and people should interact, and used inexpensive materials to create new building methods and styles. This tradition thrives even as new Southern California designers face challenges including a reduction in open land and ever more strict zoning regulations. Veteran firms as well as hungry young designers both prosper here. While influenced bythe designs of their predecessors, they are adapting to-and are stimulated by-restrictions that force creative solutions. Innovative forms, plans, programs, and techniques continue to emerge regularly.

Perhaps above all, architects working in Southern California cannot be accused of being timid. They exploit new technologies to create innovative forms and structures, and to build in locations that were once deemed impossible. Striking examples include Escher GuneWardena's Jamie Residence in Pasadena, a rectangular structure lofted high in the air like a bridge to provide breathtaking views and minimize disruption of the land underneath, Patrick Tighe's Tigertail, with its angular, cantilevered second-floor roof shaped like an airplane wing, and Johnston Marklee's Hill House, with its seamless envelope and precarious site on the side of a steep ravine. Others, like Wallace Cunningham's Crescent House with its multiple ramps, terraces, and curving concrete forms, are as much sculpture as house.

These new structures, like the classic designs that came before them, are designed to embrace the varied, beautiful landscapes and benign climate of the area, just in different ways. Sliding glass doors, windows, and skylights continue to increase in size and in their ability to cleverly disappear discreetly into walls, opening structures fully to the outside. Houses today often meld unobtrusively into their surroundings, adopting the colors, textures, and even topography of the land they rest upon-Griffin Enright's Point Dume residence curves sinuously in response to its lot's natural undulations; its cladding and interior fittings were also chosen to match the surrounding hardscape. Safdie Rabines's aptly named Tree House in San Diego is perched on the edge of a heavily wooded ravine and thanks to outsized sliding doors and clerestory windows opens so completely that birds fly through it as if it were part of the forest itself.

Excerpted from Living West by Sam Lubell Copyright © 2009 by The Monacelli Press. Excerpted by permission of The Monacelli Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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