What a difference five years has made. We have come from the abyss of a disastrous recession that forced millions from their homes to an economy that is producing new homes at a record clip. While the housing recovery is spotty, across the board there is work for builders, developers and architects. Investing in a home, which seemed like a terrible or impossible idea five years ago, seems like a very good one today. I have had the good fortune to develop a loyal client base of inspired architects. They have been rolling full steam ahead with clients willing to spend the money for well-crafted high-end design. The Bay Area has been the beneficiary of the extraordinary wealth from the tech and bio-tech industries and that wealth has slowly found its way into good design. Here is a quick look at three houses by three architects whose work I have had the privilege of documenting.
Pelican Point House
Pelican Point is a remodel of a 1950’s house overlooking the Pacific south of Carmel. The setting is legendary and building anything on this dramatic perch took both artistic courage and environmental respect. Architect Eric Miller had a dedicated client who gave him the freedom to create an extraordinary house for an exceptional site. Standing in the living room behind an 18 foot high wall of glass watching the mighty Pacific crash into the cliffs below is something that is hard to forget. Miller rose to the challenge using his immense creative energy to leave his mark on every corner of this amazing house.
Santa Lucia Preserve House
This Santa Lucia Preserve house on the central California coast is an elegant, subtle work of architecture by architect Peter Duxbury. Built on a hillside lot in a modern vernacular theme, the house is extremely eco-friendly. Duxbury smartly sets the house to cut into the hillside using thermal mass to create passive heating and cooling. Using thermal heat pumps for climate control and a large photo-voltaic array the house is close to a net zero energy consumer. The house’s low profile still gives its owners breath-taking views of the valley and ocean below.
Retrospect Vineyards House
The Retrospect Vineyards house sits in a pristine vineyard in the Sonoma Valley. Architect Robert Swatt oriented the house to have a commanding view of the 40 acres of vineyards that are part of the property. In keeping with mid-century Modernist themes, Swatt created a delightful inside out California living using rollaway glass walls and white stone verandas to contrast against the sylvan landscape. The deep exterior overhangs passively control the intense summer sun and give the house its distinctive sculptural look of a large white ribbon floating above a wall of glass.
Working With Books
It should be no secret to people who know me that I have been working on numerous book projects over the last five years. My publisher, Images Publishing of Melbourne has decided to expand its operations in the United States and has appointed me their Editorial Director for U.S. operations. I will be dividing my time between photography for my established clients and developing new book projects here in the U.S. If you have any interest in creating architectural books for your firm, please feel free to contact me.