Archive for May, 2009
By: Malcolm Scott
This post might seem a bit like a plug. Well, I guess it is. Primarily, because I have seen the light. Well, at least the clouds have broken open a bit, (enter the sun) through my otherwise close-minded vision of what I might call a home. Perhaps it is just a story of a man’s vice-grip on what he feels comfortable, slowly loosening.
After growing up in Greenwich, Connecticut I seem to have traditional architecture supplanted in my psyche all the way down to the cellular level. Along with that goes the North of the Merrit Parkway standard four-acre-zoning, then comes the never-ending rolling lawns, black shutters framing the windows, multi-story boxy styling, terraced gardens, pool houses, ponds, gazebos, tennis courts, and, the like. Unfortunately, my present pumpkin-world existence doesn’t offer that kind of extravagance. That’s alright, the weather back there was horrific for the most part, anyway.
Begrudgingly, I look at all the McMansions out here, which often consist of the pseudo-Spanish style, stucco and a few tiles tossed in here and there. Well, it isn’t quite that bad. Some of the track developments are though. I should perhaps temper my sarcasm a tad, as there are truly some stunning homes in Southern California; they come in all shapes and forms, with enough architectural diversity to satisfy a broad spectrum of varying tastes.
Along Comes 171 3rd Anita in Brentwood, Los Angeles
Perhaps what has surprised me the most was seeing Randy Forbes Jr.’s most recent listing located at 171 Anita 3, in Brentwood. I remember when I lived in Venice 15 years or so ago, I used to call those concrete contemporary homes the special bunker styling. It was quite prevalent and still remains the foundation to the artsy architectural landscape down there. Even though I was renting at the time, I was way too close-minded to appreciate it.
Enter 2009, the end of the world part two has come, people are scrambling for their identity, new careers are being considered, Wall Street has come undone, Bankers are wearing camouflage and hiding somewhere. And, I, the traditional purist, have embraced this stunning contemporary home on Anita. I’m not sure I have had an epiphany, although, I have changed my tune considerably. Do traditional homes still give me the warm and fuzzies? Well, yes, but I have to tell you, this home on Anita really opened my eyes.
During the open house with a hundred people roaming through there, it felt like it was hardly occupied. There were intimate areas scattered all over the home. A variety of living spaces and areas to gather. The screening room was awesome, the downstairs family room was insanely cool. The views out the back are expansive, and, the architecture wasn’t cold and stark but rather unique, warm and very functional. Fountains seemed to be everywhere, the outdoors and indoors areas seemed to have no borders, but existed through some invisible diaphanous membrane that made both worlds merge as one.
The scary part…I could actually see myself living there! Nice pool, very private, outdoor indoor living space, outdoor fireplace, barbecue potential on multiple layers, really, quite complete. It encompasses all the accoutrement’s of fine upscale living. When I checked my pockets I realized I was slightly out of my purchasing range, but, irregardless I could see myself sipping my double latte in the morning on one of the balconies or some other concoction at dusk. Some builders and architects have their fingers on the pulse. These folks have a traditionalist reevaluating his stance on comfort and style. If you are so inclined, you owe it to yourself to see this fine piece of living space. That is, if you can afford a multi-million dollar home. It’s funny, I still find myself reflecting on Anita with a true sense of admiration and respect.
In yesteryears wine cellars were relegated to – as a cellar would imply – underground areas. Historically, cellars were dark and quiet respites for the storage and unabated maturation of wine. More recently, with the increase in the popularity of wine and its storage, wine cellars have moved out of the basement and become focal points in homes and restaurants, often ensconced behind glass walls to maintain the temperature and humidity requirement for aging wine. Rob Hussey (Hussey Real Estate Group) has taken the evolution to the next step. Set in a contemporary home in Brentwood (West Los Angeles) that Hussey designed and built with partner Mark Keckeisen (Woods Design Group) is an entire wall of concrete dedicated to the storage of wine. “The idea originated from a wall of terra cotta pipes that I saw in a Spanish house.” Hussey commented when asked the genesis of his design.
”I had the idea – for a contemporary house – to construct a wine cellar using cinderblock turned on its side and placing the bottles in the openings of the block, but that was very inefficiency. Cinderblock only comes in rectangular shapes and that left a lot of wasted space for a symmetrically-shaped wine bottle. The idea then evolved into a poured-in-place wall with open cylinders for the wine storage. The Brentwood design had a number of poured-in-place concrete elements; so it was a natural fit to make the wine wall out of concrete.”
A two-foot thick wall was poured between the screening room and the wine lounge. The wall is backed on the screening room side and open to the wine lounge. The wall is trimmed in Douglas Fir, has a cantilevered Glulam bar in a center niche with wine glass storage, an built-in wine bottle opener, and overhead light, and a rolling library ladder for access to the upper bottles. Each cylinder holds two bottles of wine in tandem. The entire wall can store up to 510 bottles. There’s a section with larger cylinders for the storage of magnum bottles. The wall is chilled in a fashion similar to that of radiant heat with cold water circulated through plastic tubes that run through the wall. The wall has three zones; each can be set to a different temperature (as white wines typically are stored at a lower temperature than reds). Because of the row and column layout of the columns a collector can address the various cylinders using spreadsheet convention with numbered rows and lettered columns to find the perfect bottle of Château Mouton Rothschild in cylinder E12 and record the storage addresses in a wine storing software program.
This design looks to be a signature piece in the future Hussey/Woods projects. We look forward to seeing its evolution.