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New Fuksas

Studio Fuksas reworks Los Angeles’s Beverly Center

The 886,000-square-foot Beverly Center first opened in 1982, in true Los Angeles fashion, on the site of a former children’s amusement park and next door to an active oil drilling site. Critic Aaron Betsky, appraising the structure ten years later in the Los Angeles Times, consecrated the blob-shaped mega-mall as “the Acropolis of shopping, dedicated to our national religion, consumption.” A new luxury-oriented $500 million overhaul by Studio Fuksas has only made that description more apt.

The eight-story edifice has undergone a midlife facelift that includes the addition of an undulating aluminum mesh facade over the building’s five above-grade parking levels. The expanded metal veil billows around the hulking mass, disappearing to mark three monumental entrances and a pair of glass-wrapped escalator bays.

The mall itself is laid out along the building’s top three floors, where a new 25,000-square-foot skylight and other reconfigured vertical openings bring crisp, white sunlight into its gleaming halls.

8500 Beverly Boulevard Los Angeles 310-854-0070 Designer: Studio Fuksas
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R.I.P.

Los Angeles architect Francois Perrin has passed away
Los Angeles–based architect Francois Perrin has passed away. Perrin was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer in January, 2019, and passed away on April 1, 2019, in Ventura County, California. Born in Paris, France, Perrin would eventually settle in Los Angeles, where his design practice, Air Architecture, was well known for creating materially inventive spaces filled with ethereal physical qualities that transcended everyday experiences. Perrin’s architectural projects were widely published; his Venice Air House from 2006, an addition to a single-family home that used trapped air visible through clear polycarbonate siding as a form of insulation, was well known. Perrin’s Hollywood Hills House from 2012 was designed as a series of terraces that simultaneously disappeared into and were hung off of a steeply-sloped site. In the past, Perrin has organized several exhibitions including "Dialogues" and "Yves Klein-Air Architecture" at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and "Architectones" in several locations around the world. In 2004, Perrin’s The Weather Garden transformed the courtyard of Materials & Applications in Los Angeles using netting, a wooden platform, and palm tree saplings. In 2016, Perrin and French Canadian architect Francois Dallegret organized a retrospective of Dallegret’s early works at WUHO Gallery in Hollywood. In 2017, Perrin’s Air Houses brought a series of tent-like shelters to the Palm House at the Garfield Park Conservatory for the Chicago Architecture Biennale. A joint project between Perrin and Dallegret was scheduled to go on view earlier this year at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture in Los Angeles as part of the Shelter or Playground exhibition, but Perrin’s work on the exhibition was cut short by his illness. Perrin was decorated with the Chevalier de l'Art et des Lettres in June, 2018, at the Residence de France in Los Angeles. On top of everything, Perrin was an avid big-wave surfer and an artist, pursuits that earned him the love of a wide community of artists and architects around the world. As the shocking news of Perrin’s illness spread among his friends last week, several organizations and institutions rallied to his family’s support. Perrin is survived by his partner Eviana Hartman and their 16-month-old daughter. A fund has been set up to help the family navigate this difficult time.
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Up in the Air

Artists’ housing in downtown Phoenix might (literally) elevate the Airstream
Public design review on the project has yet to start, but it looks like downtown Phoenix’s Roosevelt Row could be getting bohemian-style artists housing courtesy of national firm Shepley Bulfinch. By suspending chrome Airstream trailers within a diamond-shaped scaffolding, developer True North Studio, artist Wayne Rainey, and Shepley Bulfinch hope that the four-story Roosevelt Land Yacht Club will supply up to 30 units of affordable housing for local artists. Rather than acting as a standalone building, the project presents a novel type of urban infill; the Roosevelt Land Yacht Club will wrap around the exterior of an existing corner parking garage and fill in the 15-foot gap between the building and the sidewalk. Each trailer—the Airstreams may have to be replaced with a less iconic model—will feature about 350 square feet of living space. The multilevel steel matrix will be constantly painted over by the artists to create a structure that’s half living space, half piece of art. The diamond motif and airy framing reference both rolling desert dunes as well as the sense of freedom brought on by the open road. Of course, this is all speculative at the moment. True North Studio expects that the design review and permitting process with the city of Phoenix will take approximately six months, and hopes to break ground in 2020. While no rent information has been released yet, making it unclear how affordable the spaces will be, the scheme could still create a new precedent for infill housing if it moves ahead. The Roosevelt Land Yacht Club is part of the much larger, multi-building mixed-use renovation titled Ro2. True North Studio is handling the entire project after being selected through a request for proposal issued by the city of Phoenix, but, as the Phoenix New Times noted, it was also the only developer to submit a proposal.
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Balancing Design

The 2019 Seattle Design Festival puts out a call for proposals
The Seattle Design Festival (SDF) is returning from August 16 through 25 and will once again gather tens of thousands of architects, designers, residents, and aficionados in the city. Before that, though, the SDF is openly soliciting installation proposals throughout April and May. SDF is run by Design in Public, an initiative of AIA Seattle, and appropriately, a host of supplemental educational events will run during the festival. The SDF is being broken up into three parts: a block party at Lake Union Park on August 24 and 25, which will showcase outdoor pavilions and events; neighborhood design crawls from August 16 through 25, where visitors can stop in at lectures, tours, screenings, and more; and finally, partner events all over the city. This year’s theme, Balance, asks applicants to consider how balance can be won by design. How can good design help balance our ecological concerns and restore the environment? How can design establish urban equity, or negotiate a work-life balance? Proposals can address any and all interpretations of the theme. While designers don’t need to be affiliated with a studio or even live in Seattle to apply, Design in Public will be hosting three “design jams” at Seattle’s Center for Architecture and Design. On April 20, May 8, and May 16, interested parties can workshop their ideas, get feedback, ask questions, and mutually support other applicants. Interested applicants and partners can submit their proposals here.
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Zumth(ingm)or(e)

Peter Zumthor lightens and shortens LACMA design
Peter Zumthor's office has released new renderings of its new building for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). In this latest update, the building's amorphous "canopy" level still sprawls across Wilshire Boulevard, and several pavilions still connect the upper level to the plaza, but now those pavilions are shorter and do not rise above the upper level. The building's material also appears to have been toned down; previous renderings showed striations on the pavilions' exterior, but now all facades seem to be blank concrete. The building's color has come a long way since the building was conceived as a kind of oil slick, referencing the local tar pits. Originally, the building was a sort of black blob, but over the past couple of years, that color seems to have been phased out. The sprawling elevated floor has remained throughout the project's development. The new building will replace an existing William Pereira–designed structure and is scheduled to be finished in 2023.
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Yabba Dabba Don't

California town sues owner of the “Flintstone House” over prehistoric additions
The owner of the Bay Area’s famed “Flintstone House,” a sprawling red, orange, and purple dome home that’s become a local landmark, is facing a lawsuit over her unlawful additions—namely a menagerie of dinosaurs. The house was originally built in 1976 and designed by architect William Nicholson, who used a novel construction method to define the building’s forms. By first inflating large balloons, then spraying shotcrete over mesh and rebar, Nicholson was able to create interconnected round volumes. The building was originally off-white but rose to social media fame after being painted orange and purple in 2007 (it should be noted that in the show, the Flintstones lived in a modern-style boulder). After sitting on the market for two years, 45 Berryessa Way was sold to Florence Fang, a retired newspaper magnate, in 2017 for $2.8 million. Now Fang is embroiled in a lawsuit with the town of Hillsborough, according to the New York Times, over what officials claim were unapproved additions. Those additions? Dinosaurs so large that the town says they qualify as unenclosed structures, mushroom and animal sculptures, multicolored letters spelling out “Yabba Dabba Doo” by the driveway, a retaining wall, new steps, gates, and a life-size Fred Flintstone statue. According to the lawsuit filed on March 13, Fang was cited multiple times for adding to her property without the required permits, and her home was ultimately declared a “public nuisance” at a hearing last October. Fang was fined $200, which was paid, but the town filed the lawsuit after her changes were not reversed. Ultimately the case seems to stem from the presence of such an “outlier” house in a neighborhood filled with multimillion-dollar properties. As the suit itself alleges, the basis of the complaint is that Fang’s additions were, “designed to be very intrusive, resulting in the owner’s ‘vision’ for her property being imposed on many other properties and views, without regard to the desires of other residents.” Fang is reportedly consulting with her lawyers at this stage, and AN will follow up when further action by either party is taken.
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Critical Mass

World’s first mass plywood panel approved for 18-story buildings
Located in Lyons, Oregon, Freres Lumber has been in business for nearly a century. After starting out producing standard lumber projects, the company moved into wood veneers some 60 years ago and in 1998 purchased a plywood plant. Now, it's made another step: getting U.S. and Canadian patents on its mass plywood panel (MPP), the first veneer-based mass timber panel in the world, and fire approvals to build up to 18 stories high with the panel. The mass plywood panel has already been put to the test on a smaller scale—this past year Freres worked with design-build startup BuildHouse to construct an A-frame house with the panel in Snoqualmie, Washington. The company has also seen its product used in larger projects. Oregon State University’s new Peavy Hall, a forestry science center designed by Michael Green Architecture (a Katerra partner), featured Freres Lumber’s product on the roof, while the nearby A.A. “Red” Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory shows off the panels on its interior and exterior walls. Both buildings are part of OSU’s forestry complex, which is designed to display an array of new mass timber technologies. Freres also maintains a relationship with the TallWood Design Institute, a partnership between OSU and the University of Oregon, working with the institute to test its products. The company claims that MPPs have a number of benefits when compared to the cross-laminated timber products that have taken off in recent years—it was a CLT product that collapsed this past summer in the Peavy Hall Project, not Freres’s. Freres noted that MPPs offer better structural support and design flexibility. CLT can only be built out in orthogonal layers and is generally confined to standard lumber dimensions and shapes, whereas MPPs have greater flexibility in form and dimension (the panels and their thin veneer layers can be very small, but they can also scale up to as much as 48 feet long and 1 foot thick), giving designers and builders a greater range to work and experiment with. Prefab plywood panels are also an option, but they can easily be cut by a CNC machine to spec. Mass plywood panels also use less material; they take 20 percent less wood fiber to meet the same structural specifications as CLT. They're also more eco-friendly in terms of what trees they can use. MPP can be built with smaller diameter trees, as small as 5.5 inches, though normally trees with 9-inch diameters are used. Using small trees means relying on second-growth trees, like local Oregon Douglas fir, and ones that are likely to be “choked out” under the shadow of larger growth.  Things are getting easier, according to Freres, and while he pointed out that the “mass timber movement is so new,” many projects and possibilities are on the horizon for MPP, including tornado-resistant structures, highway barriers, as well as buildings both tall and small. “People are constantly coming up with new ideas and new ways to use this material,” said Freres, “[mass timber] is going to be an enormous benefit to the construction industry going forward.”
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Fieldworks

Office Kovacs, Kyle May, and MILLIØNS to lead desert design-build festival in California
In May 2019, Southern California’s “community in residence” design-build festival, Space Saloon, is returning to the desert highlands for its second incarnation. Titled Fieldworks, the elbow grease-fueled festival will take its inspiration from “cumulative methods of scientific field research—the approaches, techniques, and processes used to collect raw data outside of a laboratory setting” by staging a series of desert constructions that focus on imbuing quantified data with cultural meaning. The eight-day workshop is open to anyone age 18 or older and will cost between $1350 and $1500 to attend; the program price includes room and board, three meals a day, and all of the necessary construction materials. As with the previous iteration of the festival, organizers hope to draw an interdisciplinary group of students that will complement the diverse set of practitioners leading the project. Project leaders for this year include architects Andrew Kovacs (Office Kovacs), Zeina Koreitem and John May (MILLIØNS), Kyle May (KMA), as well as workshop leaders Alex Braidwood (Listening Instruments), Noémie Despland-Lichtert and Brendan Sullivan Shea (Roundhouse Platform), Lena Pozdnyakova and Eldar Tagi (the2vvo), among others. According to a press release, program participants will work to undermine the “constructs and apparatuses through which we perceive a place,” investigations that could include questioning how knowledge is produced, manipulating one’s perception of the desert landscape, and creating “new methods for presenting subjective realities.” The workshop joins an ever-increasing number of arts- and architecture-related events taking place across the desert regions surrounding Los Angeles, including the Desert X art biennial, the High Desert Test Sites program, and the Coachella Arts and Music festival. For a collection of last year’s projects, see the Space Saloon website. Applications for the program will be accepted through April with the workshops taking place in California’s Morongo Valley between May 25 and June 1, 2019.
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Only the Bestor

Bestor Architecture and Jamie Bush + Co. bring an unfinished Lautner into the 21st century
In 2013, Bestor Architecture, interior designer Jamie Bush + Co., and landscape architects Studio-MLA were tapped to restore and complete the Silvertop Residence, a domed, cave-like home designed by John Lautner in 1956 for industrialist-inventor Kenneth Reiner. “Big chunks of the house weren’t finished,” Barbara Bestor of Bestor Architecture explained as she described the ad hoc kitchen and bathroom spaces she initially found in the home. “But we tried to bring a 21st-century idea of what progressive architecture might be in this context.” The Los Angeles home represents Lautner’s own attempts to create a progressive architectural vision for domestic life and includes his first spanning concrete shell structure as well as movable glass walls and interior finishes that can conveniently snap off for maintenance and replacement. Within a T-shaped composition of intersecting semicircles in plan, the home is divided into sleeping, kitchen, and living zones that frame opposing outdoor spaces, including a pool patio and a tree-filled courtyard. Bestor explained that Lautner and Reiner had infused the home with a spirit of material inventiveness that included Portuguese cork ceiling tiles, thin-shell concrete finishes, and other factory-produced elements. It was an ethos that Bestor sought to channel, but rather than imposing a new order on the home, her restoration is instead geared toward reviving and perfecting many of Lautner’s original ideas. For example, the architect replaced rudimentary mechanical systems for a movable window wall with a state-of-the-art motorized pulley concealed by scalloped concrete edging and an upturned swoop of terrazzo flooring. She also perfected the home’s master bathroom through the addition of a fully retractable 20-ton glass partition that disappears into the floor. Coupled with a disappearing skylight system, the shower is now a completely outdoor experience that is more true to the original intent for the space than 1950s-era technology allowed. Bestor’s hand also worked silently below the floors and within the walls of the house, where transformative HVAC, digital, lighting, and sound systems were added. In the master bedroom, an original moonroof above the bed has been redesigned to completely disappear. Fully concealed by dummy ceiling panels when closed, the opening is one of several precisely designed and exactly located operable windows around the house. The home’s kitchen received some of the most dramatic transformations of the project. Tucked into a low block between the entry and the space-age living room, the new kitchen is wrapped in vertical bands of thin cypress slats and is lit from above by square-shaped skylights. Glimmering stainless appliances designed by Ilan Dei Studio fill out the space, while overhead, restored and original pieces of cork ceiling intermingle and conceal technological equipment. The stealthy and informed approach, according to Bestor, allowed her team to “think aloud through forms and ideas” in a way that mirrored Lautner’s original work while still remaining respectful to those designs. Today, the home lives on as it was always meant to: completed, occupied, and at least for now, technologically up-to-date.
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Font of Creativity

Angela Danadjieva remains an unsung luminary of landscape architecture
In 1967, Angela Danadjieva, a Bulgarian-born architect, found herself working in the San Francisco office of the celebrated landscape architect Lawrence Halprin. From 1967 to 1976, she worked on 20 urban design and city planning projects at Halprin’s office, driving design on some of the office’s best-known projects. Her work was integral to the office’s output, but today, Halprin is remembered in histories of landscape architecture while Danadjieva is almost forgotten. In 2019, when we’re increasingly cognizant about the vital positions of women and natural resources, it seems timely to bring attention to Danadjieva. She was enabled by the socialist privilege of women’s rights in her native Bulgaria, and Halprin’s devotion to the profession. Halprin was a giant in the landscaping field, walking in the footsteps of Frederick Law Olmsted and having learned from Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius. Danadjieva won a competition while living in Paris in 1966, which brought her to San Francisco where she met Halprin. Freeway Park, which covers interstate I-5 in Seattle is their best-known project. For Halprin, it was the poetic outcome of his 1966 book Freeways and was another manifestation of his appreciation of waterfalls, while for Danadjieva, it was an opportunity to shine in Halprin’s eyes and fulfill her design ambitions. However much Danadjieva contributed as a designer, Halprin’s lead as landscape architect made him the architect in charge. But her participation in the Seattle park design can be seen as an object lesson in who gets credit for projects, particularly when one of the designers is a woman. Danadjieva was born in 1931 and was brought up in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. Lofty ancient architecture adorned Sofia’s broad cobblestone boulevards, and greenery surrounded the city. But the political background for Danadjieva was highly unsettling. After a period of neutrality, the country was eventually thrust into the theater of World War II, caught between the Nazis, the Soviets, and the Allied Forces, which bombed Sofia in 1941. In 1944, the city was captured by the Soviets, and the subsequent socialist regime seems to have eased the way for Danadjieva. Women made inroads in Bulgarian culture, and the state-supported university helped to cement Danadjieva’s abilities. She studied environmental design and received a degree in architecture. In 1963 she paired off with Ivan Tzvetin to work on a Cuban urban project; they won second prize for it and she was awarded the prize by Fidel Castro. Not fully satisfied with her university education, Danadjieva chose to leave Bulgaria and attend Paris’s Ecole des Beaux-Arts between 1964 and 1966, which seems to have imprinted on her an appreciation for forms from the past. While in Paris she was employed by Denieul-Marty-Paoll. Danadjieva first became a set designer for a state film company—winning a Golden Rose (the Bulgarian equivalent to an Oscar) for The Captured Squadron—and then won the competition that landed her on the West Coast and eventually in Halprin’s office. Halprin and Danadjieva reached common agreement that she would have a creative role in his firm, and as project architect she worked on both the Freeway Park and the Auditorium Fourcourt (now Ira Keller) Fountain in Portland, Oregon. Danadjieva made clay models for the fountains’ concrete forms. Both the Ira Keller and Freeway Park fountains are exciting to the senses. When operative, primal water gushes over primordial masses that resemble brutalist waterfalls. The Ira Fountain, engineered by Richard Chaix, is built on a declivity in the road whereas Freeway Park builds over a tear in the city. Ada Louise Huxtable considered Freeway Park equal to European masterpieces. When the fountains are running crowds of people are drawn to them. There has been danger in Freeway Park—a 2005 murder—which has precipitated adding amusement structures like bandshell and food vendors. The structures around Freeway Park are not that humanistic—large metal and glass buildings like the overbearing Convention Center (which Danadjieva worked on) dwarf the park—but amid the stepped and zigzagging walkways and terraces, the rushing waterworks, and the sylvan plantings, the park is a superb haven. Both Halprin and Danadjieva claim authorship of Freeway Park. Legally, it can be assumed that it was Halprin’s design—it came from his office. While Danadjieva did make the clay models of the brutalist stonework, Halprin’s hand came into play earlier. His Portland Lovejoy Fountain of 1967, which is similar and was inspired by his Sierra watercourse drawings from 1964. And the epitome of the office’s rock and water play comes somewhat later: the Washington, D.C., Roosevelt Monument designed in 1974 but not constructed until the 1990s. Also, it was Halprin’s call at the studio to make models before drawings for the Freeway fountain. But Danadjieva’s hand seems secure at the Ira Keller and Freeway fountains because the bursting water flows over those large bold idiosyncratic forms that seem characteristic of her hand. Danadjieva said in an oral history done by Michael Apostolos in February 2010, the year after Halprin’s death:
At a few occasions he left on my board thank you notes about my work…Walking through the office at lunchtime Larry came to my desk looking at what I was modeling out of clay. Seeing my concept for Seattle’s Freeway Park he turned around and disappeared—saying nothing. I went outside for lunch. We faced each other around the block and he told me: “Angela, I am so excited seeing your Freeway Park design concept. Sorry even could not speak, needed to get some fresh air,” and at that time I saw tears in his eyes. This is how I like to remember Larry Halprin, one of the greatest appreciators of my design work.
Danadjieva is still active, working with her partner, Thomas Koenig. Her work has received numerous awards, including an Honor Award in Design from the American Society of Landscape Architects. One of their projects was an addition to the Freeway Park (a monumental endeavor, including work on the Washington State Convention Center). She and Koenig are responsible for large-scale projects such as White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana, and James River Park System in Richmond, Virginia, and have earned a reputation in urban development. The pair live and work in Tiburon, outside San Francisco. She is reportedly a modern woman with old world aristocratic, courtier traits. She is elusive—very difficult to locate and interview and could not be contacted for this article.
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High Desert Test Sites

Another arts festival returns to the Southern California desert
It’s getting rather busy in California’s High Desert these days. With an ever-expanding set of art-related events, programs, and biennials taking place across the region, High Desert Test Sites (HDTS), a long-running artist showcase in the area, has announced its 2020 return. The event, titled HDTS2020 and conceived of as a “free-roving” art exposition, aims to revisit a 1972 slideshow lecture given by American land artist Robert Smithson titled Hotel Palenque via a series of new public artworks and events. The lecture, given by Smithson to his students at the University of Utah after a trip through Mexico in 1969, centers on an “eccentrically built hotel…simultaneously undergoing decay and renovation” that Smithson encountered while on his travels. Smithson considered the hotel a “de-architecturalized” space that existed both as a ruin and a site of reconstruction in keeping with the artist’s interests in fragmented landscapes and simultaneous states of being. The work, according to the Guggenheim website, was developed in tandem with a photographic series titled Yucatan Mirror Displacements (1–9) that Smithson created by photographing dispersed sites that had been augmented with the installation of 12-inch, square-shaped mirrors. For the 2020 run, HDTS has brought on guest curator Iwona Blazwick from the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The series will feature the work of eight artists, including Alice Channer, Gerald Clarke, Jr., Dineo Seshee Bopape, Erkan Özgen, Dana Sherwood, Paloma Varga Weisz, and Rachel Whiteread. Smithson will also be included in the showcase, which will focus on creating “a poetic narrative on the geometry of ruin, the entropic play of nature, and the ghosts of cultures both ancient and modern.” The artists are slated to create or place their works across the High Desert region, both in urbanized areas and within the desert landscapes. HDTS, a non-profit organization founded by artist Andrea Zittel, Los Angeles gallerist Shaun Caley Regen, and others in 2003, aims to “support immersive experiences and exchanges between artists, critical thinkers, and general audiences—challenging all to expand their definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy,” according to Zittel’s website. HDTS2020 will include a public discussion titled Desert as Situation on April 7 hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM) and moderated by Brooke Hodge, director of architecture and design at PSAM. The exhibition series itself runs from April 18 through May 9, 2020.
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Sky-lightness

Griffin Enright Architects’ Birch Residence tracks the sun with a jagged skylight
While curmudgeonly critics lament the return of pomo styling in architecture schools, it can be easy to forget that in Los Angeles, few architectural modes ever go fully out of style. A case in point is the Birch Residence, designed by Griffin Enright Architects (GEA), which was not specifically conceived as a deconstructivist work, but bears the movement’s expansive and explosive feel. From the street, the home’s erupting components—smooth white stucco boxes, projecting and frameless windows, and a central light well—stand out amid the surrounding suburban tract houses. Though situated on a mostly flat site, the main level, containing entertainment-focused kitchen and living areas, is elevated several steps above grade due to an underground garage. As a result, the home spreads from setback to setback, allowing for inventive uses of the tight urban lot. The home’s boxy volumes push and pull against a jagged two-story skylight that runs through the center of the building and divides its constituent parts with glass, steel, and freeform refractive panels. The slinking, canted skylight is topped with an angular shade designed to track the sun from east to west on its daily journey. A clear glass bridge bisects the light well, providing access between the two bedroom wings on the second floor. Below, splayed living spaces and a sculptural stair further accentuate the light well’s vertical orientation. According to Margaret Griffin, principal at GEA, the skylight “brings a seasonal component to the house” while also creating a promontory from which to catch views of the nearby Hollywood sign. The skylight, a tour de force of structural engineering, construction detailing, and exacting handiwork, folds down over the back facade of the house, where a single sheet of canted glass meets a polished travertine floor that spills out onto a backyard patio and reflecting pool. “We try to bring particular innovations that transform the way people live,” said Griffin, explaining the dark-colored paneling that wraps the living room ceiling as well as the main kitchen areas. “We realized that a dark ceiling makes space feel bigger than it really is, so one plane is darker to give a greater depth of space as well as a more expansive feeling to the home.”