Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pittman Dowell Residence : By Michael Maltzan Architecture

La Crescenta, California
Michael Maltzan Architecture
Post By:Kitticoon Poopong
Breaking Conventions: Michael Maltzan designs a house for a nontraditional household.
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
As a same-sex couple, we FELT that the old nomenclature of residential space didn’t apply to us,” states Lari Pittman, who, with his partner, Roy Dowell, challenged Michael Maltzan, FAIA, to explore the architectural ramifications of nontraditional relationships. For example, they wanted no doors or partitions between rooms. Instead, they asked Maltzan to “disrupt and dismantle the hierarchy of spaces” found in other houses and rethink conventions of privacy.

Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan 
Pittman and Dowell, both respected painters and teachers, lived in a 1,200-square-foot Richard Neutra—designed house on the northern edge of Los Angeles and needed more space. Although small, their 1952 house — designed for Neutra’s secretary, Dorothy Serulnic, and her husband, George — sits on a 6-acre site that Neutra planned so it could be subdivided into three parcels. Since purchasing the entire property in 1997, Pittman and Dowell had built a small pavilion and cactus garden on the second parcel and saw how the site’s various pieces all worked together. So instead of just building a bigger house on the third parcel and using the Serulnic residence as a guesthouse, they approached the new building as an integral part of a larger composition. 
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
Maltzan responded with a design that at first blush seems to contradict Neutra’s — introverted and opaque rather than outward-looking and transparent, polygonal rather than orthogonal. But the more you get to know his house, the more you see how it picks up Neutra’s ideas and gives them a new spin. While Maltzan certainly uses contrast as one means of relating the new to the old, his strategy is more sophisticated than simply doing the opposite of what Neutra did.
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan 
The new house had to work with the entire environment, not just the Neutra house,” explains Maltzan. A driveway winds its way up the site with the existing home at the top, so he used that processional element to help generate an asymmetrical, spiraling geometry connecting the new building to both the cactus garden and the old residence. To anchor the dynamic composition, the architect focused certain elements — such as an internal courtyard and an oval skylight in the master bathroom — on an imposing stone-pine tree in the Neutra house’s backyard. And since the old residence looks down onto its new sibling, Maltzan designed the roof of his building as an additional facade that clearly expresses the floor plan inside.
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
Neutra layered space in his house, taking visitors from a relatively enclosed entry to an open living room that flows directly onto a backyard overlooking a valley and the city beyond. Maltzan reinterprets this concept, layering spaces, but in a pinwheel manner that opens each room onto the next and the jagged court in the center. Instead of unfolding in a linear progression, his plan takes visitors on a spiraling journey that offers surprising views through the house, into the court, and out to the valley. “I thought of the house as a perspective machine generating views across and through the building,” says the architect. Indeed, the house presents visitors with an almost cinematic experience, as it frames a series of shots both outside and in and offers a number of unexpected moments — such as the view of the stone pine through the oval-shaped skylight in the bathroom, and the way a wall in the library turns into a bladelike edge as you turn the corner into the bedroom. 
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan 
By slicing and dissecting his seven-sided structure into a series of triangles and polygons, Maltzan creates a geometry that challenges conventional notions of household order. As soon as you enter, you can look into the master bathroom on one side or to the living room in front. From the living room, you can walk out to a covered balcony overlooking the valley or up one step to the courtyard. The bedroom on the other side of the court faces the living room with floor-to-ceiling glass (though shades can be pulled down). A galley kitchen occupies an interstitial space between the dining room and a library. Noting that the Serulnic house broke many rules when it was built, Pittman says that living in it for many years “radicalized us.” 
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
Built on a concrete slab with hidden steel columns and laminated-wood beams, the new, 2,500-square-foot house cost $1.5 million. A conventional structural system and simple materials (plaster exterior, concrete pavers in the courtyard, and Scandinavian oak floorboards) kept expenses down. Although green-design strategies didn’t play a major role in the project, Maltzan carefully oriented the house to catch prevailing breezes and specified double-layered, UV-protected glass to reduce solar loads. 
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
On paper, Maltzan’s design seems a bit like a mathematical conceit and an odd response to the Neutra house. But in person, it feels remarkably comfortable — more sunlit and extroverted than you might imagine, and more connected to California’s heritage of Modern architecture than it appears at first. For all its radical notions of subverting residential norms, it has an easy charm, welcoming to many types of people. Maltzan, who lives with his wife and two children in a 1920s bungalow and has never built a house for himself, says that for the first time in his career he could imagine taking up residence in one of his designs.
Pittman Dowell Residence
Photo © Iwan Baan
Pittman Dowell Residence
Image courtesy Michael Maltzan Architecture
Completion Date:
December 2009
Gross square footage:
Total construction cost:
$ 1.5 million
Lari Pittman & Roy Dowell

the People

Michael Maltzan Architecture
2801 Hyperion Avenue, Studio 107
Los Angeles, California 90027
T (323) 913-3098 / F (323) 913-5932
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Michael Maltzan, FAIA / Design Principal (Registered Architect)
Tim Williams / Project Director
Steven Hsun Lee / Project Designer (Registered Architect)
Hiroshi Tokumaru / Senior Technical Coordinator
Wil Carson (Registered Architect), David Freeland, Nadine Quirmbach, Christopher Norman, Yan Wang, Tal Schori, & Stacie Escario / Project Team
Architect of record:
Michael Maltzan Architecture
Structural Engineeer: B.W. Smith Structural Engineers
Geotechnical & Soils Engineer: The J Byer Group
Civil Engineer: Paller-Roberts Engineering, Inc.
Arborist: Robert W. Wallace
Asterisk Builders
General contractor:
Asterisk Builders
Iwan Baan
Mobile +31 (0)6 5463 0468  
Fax +31 (0)84 883 1330
Studio: Schippersgracht 7-1  
Amsterdam 1011 TR, The Netherlands
New York, USA  
Mobile +1 347 525 1554  
Fax +1 212 313 9482
Beijing, China  Mobile +86 139 1050 2292
Thuraya Satellite +88 216 217 13552
Michael Maltzan Architecture
CAD system, project management, or other software used:
AutoCAD & Rhino

the Products

Structural system:
Glulam Beams & Steel Frame
Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtainwall:   Solar Ban 60 clear glass, Aluminum by Heritage
EIFS, ACM, or other:      Shamrock
Built-up roofing: GAF Materials- UL Class A 4 ply built up
Roof ballast: Vermont Natural AG Products
Aluminum:  CLK Installation / Heritage
Glass: Solar Ban 60
Industrial Skylights
Glas Pro
Entrances:CLK Installation / Heritage
Sliding doors: CLK Installation / Heritage
Locksets:  Soss
Interior Hinges:  Soss
Cabinet hardware: Sugatsune
Interior finishes
Millwork: Steve King Design
Countertops: Caesarstone (Blizzard White)
Benjamin Moore Aura (Decorators White)
ICI Dulux Paints ( Ultrahide)
Master Bathroom Floor and Wall Tile: Ann Sack Paris Penny Round Tile (Masterbathroom)
Wood Flooring:  Dinesen
Interior Ambient Lighting: Selux
Downlights: RSA QCM5101
Wall Washers: RSA QCM5102
Task lighting: Alkco Aris LED
Exterior:  Selux & Targetti Poulsen
Controls:  Lutron
Plumbing Fixtures
Faucet & Shower fixtures:  Dornbracht
W.C. Sinks: Duravit
Service Room & Kitchen Sink: Kohler
Toilets:  TOTO
Custom Balcony Railing and Canopy:      
CAC Fabrication
via:archrecord--By Clifford A. Pearson
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