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carlson residence (unbuilt)

los angeles, ca.

This project from 2007 was in collaboration with David Towbin who passed away the following year. Because it never progressed beyond the preliminary design stage as pencil drawings, I’ve developed it digitally to explore its possibilities.

The site is a densely vegetated steep hillside lot in the Benedict Canyon area of Los Angeles. The client wanted what is basically a bachelor pad that might also serve as his studio.

The program was simple: living, food prep, eating and sleeping in a way that intimately joined with its site.  A garage that might also function as a studio/workshop was to be located at the lower street level.  It needed to be notched into the lower corner of the hill where the street is located while avoiding destruction of a group of mature trees. This restriction plus setback requirements meant keeping the footprint as small as possible.

This solution has three stories: garage, living and sleeping levels, 1537 s.f. plus 503 s.f. for the garage.  Entrances were provided at both the street and second floor levels.  The latter one, reached by curved steps through the dense landscape, was for guests.  Because of the thirteen foot vertical travel distance between the garage and second floor living spaces, an elevator was included.

The second and third floors connect to the lushly landscaped hill by means of extensive use of glass. Privacy from the south and street below was a concern. Site lines from the south are blocked either by vegetation or by having a mostly blank facade on that side.   Site lines between the street and both upper floors are effectively blocked for privacy by a screen wall comprised of a series of horizontal 4x12 wood beams closely spaced with glass between - see photos below.

Primary building materials: douglas fir, cement plaster, board-formed concrete and exposed weathering steel.