Santa Monica, CA / Completed 2004
Green Opportunities: Designed for an entrepreneur seeking refuge from his unpredictable, nomadic life, this 3,500 square foot residence is one of the first houses to demonstrate that utilizing the full range of sustainability features is not only good for the environment, but also completely consistent with creating progressive, spatially rich environments.
Neighborliness: The same strategies that modulate the penetration of sun and air into the house (south-facing eaves, minimal western penetrations, etc.) also generate a dynamic layering of forms and planes that are appropriately scaled to the surrounding neighborhood. The choice of sustainable materials such as shiplapped cement board and plaster contributes to a respectful relationship with adjacent residences.
Diagonal Void: The internal masses of the house have been distributed to create a “diagonal void” that brings light and air deep into the house through both plan and section. It begins at a large, south-facing clerestory on the second floor that emits a warm glow at night. Carved from its center is a stair atrium that collects and vents hot air through motorized skylights in the roof. The unexpected void intensifies the abstract spatial qualities that are at the heart of the home’s aesthetic.
Blurring Boundaries: The structure’s siting and openness allow sunlight and breezes to naturally warm and cool the house, as well as to encourage the type of indoor-outdoor living made possible by Southern California’s temperate environment. (The house has no mechanical air conditioning system.) The koi pond cools the air before it enters the house. The concrete floors absorb heat during the day and release it at night.
See the Light: A generous use of skylights and clerestories reduces the need for artificial lighting. It also creates a combination of dynamic and reflected light that brings the owner’s art collection alive.
Unseen Beauty: The house employs the following active green technologies: Santa Monica’s first gray water system, which filters much of the house’s waste water for use by the garden; a 4-kilowatt rooftop photovoltaic system that supplies 85% of the house’s power; and a highly efficient in-floor radiant heating system. Recycled or sustainably produced materials not already noted include: recycled cotton insulation; sustainably harvested wood stairs and floors; formaldehyde-free MDF cabinets; low VOC paint; and quartz countertops. The house has been the subject of several university lectures and is on the cover of Santa Monica’s influential “Residential Green Building Guide.”
- Principal-in-Charge: John Friedman
Project Team: Alice Kimm, John Martin, Leigh Christy, Pauline Shu, Matthew Nesbitt
Project Assistant: Elsye Alam
Structural Engineer: William Koh and Associates, Inc.
Landscape Architect: Orange Street Studio
Lighting Design: FIRE Ltd., Light Vision
General Contractor: Bonomo Development
- Craig Ehrlich
- 2006 AIA/Los Angeles, Decade Award
- 2003 AIA/Los Angeles, Citation Award
- 2009 DECO Design
- 2009 American Houses: El Sueno Americano de los Grandes Arquitectos Contemporaneos (Atrium Group de Ediciones y Publicaciones, SL)
- 2009 January/February, Green Source, “Back to the Garden” Case Study by Aric Chen
- 2008 1000x Architecture of the Americas (Braun)
- 2008 100 x 400, Vol. 2 (Rihan.CC)
- 2007 June/July, Wallpaper, “Eco Chambers” by Amara Holstein
- 2007 Convertible Living, edited by Amanda Lam & Amy Thomas (Gibbs Smith)
- 2007 Green Homes (Collins Design)
- 2006 October, L.A. Archtiect, “Decade Awards: Honor, Merit, and Citation”
- 2006 September Disen Art
- 2006 2000 Architects (Images Publishing Group)
- 2006 July, Architectural Record, Kitchen and Bath Portfolio by Rita Catinella
- 2006 February, Interior Design, “It’s A Breeze” by Edie Cohen
- 2006 A Pocketful of Houses (Images Publishing Group)
- 2005 Architecture Inspirations (daab GNBH)
- 2005 25 September, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, “Living Lightly” by Barbara Thornburg
- 2005 100 More of the World’s Best Houses (Images Publishing Group)
- 2005 January/February, L.A, Architect, “Design and Next LA: Honor”
- 2005 Santa Monica Residential Green Building Guide, City of Santa Monica