Californian architects have long been blessed by an abundance of natural light and a dry temperate weather, which explains the airy expansiveness of so much of the state’s best architecture. And when a half-decent budget is thrown into the mix, the results can be both inspiring and aspirational.
In every way, the Los Angeles-based Marmol Radziner were the ideal architects for the Summitridge residence. The site, a steep slope that rises over downtown LA with views of Century City, the Getty Center and the ocean to the west, perfectly suited the firm’s penchant for interlocking volumes.
Ron Radziner says the client, an independent art collector, ‘wanted a modern home where every bedroom and living space has a view of garden roofs and the city beyond. They wanted the design to accommodate their grown children on the first and second guest floors when they would visit, and the master suite on the fourth, with the main living area in between. They envisioned indoor-outdoor living with an emphasis on exterior dining and entertaining against a natural colour and material palette.’
Radziner solved the tricky issue of the site by terracing into the actual rock a series of interlocking boxes, including a 54 ft saltwater infinity pool, with alternating north-south and east-west orientations. Zinc panels and bronze finishes differentiate the masses, while dry-stack stone and cement plaster add a rough-hewn warmth to the spacious proportions of the house.
The dry Californian climate is specifically catered to, with drought-tolerant Mediterranean plantings alongside California sycamores and coast live oaks, and native hillside plantings that provide natural erosion control.
‘The material and colour combinations on the façade, together with the terraced volumes and planted roofs, allow the structure to recede into the hillside,’ Radziner says, though, if it’s not already abundantly clear, Summitridge stands out in every other way.