F I N IE N L I V II N G N IG N I T H T H G R S A T E G A PB AR SI A D E V AA L L ER YE A
                                 ...
EARTHLY
 DESIGN




UPDATING
A TREASURE
BARTON PHELPS DESIGNS A SEAMLESS OFFICE ADDITION TO AN AWARD-WINNING
BUFF & HENSMA...
PRESERVATIONISTS EVERYWHERE BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF WHEN HOME-

                                                    OWNER...
EARTHLY
 DESIGN




  —CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17
        The assignment called for his-and-hers offices,
  plus a combined of...
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Updating a Treasure

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September issue of Arroyo Monthly: Cover by Ewasko
Updating a Treasure: Barton Phelps designs a seamless office addition to an award-winning Buff & Hensman home in the San Gabriel foothills.
By Katie Klapper, September 2009
Photos by: Tommy Ewasko

Published in: Design
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Updating a Treasure

  1. 1. F I N IE N L I V II N G N IG N I T H T H G R S A T E G A PB AR SI A D E V AA L L ER YE A F E L V I N E E E N R E L N A SEPTEMBER 2009 AT HOME ON EARTH PLANET-FRIENDLY DESIGN SG REINCARNATED FURNITURE UPDATING RESIDENTIAL TREASURES Direct-mailed to distinguished households of the greater Pasadena area U.S POSTAGE PERMIT #422 PASADENA, CA PRSRT STD PAID BUFF & HENSMAN Pasadena’s architects of the California dream
  2. 2. EARTHLY DESIGN UPDATING A TREASURE BARTON PHELPS DESIGNS A SEAMLESS OFFICE ADDITION TO AN AWARD-WINNING BUFF & HENSMAN HOME IN THE SAN GABRIEL FOOTHILLS. BY KATIE KLAPPER | PHOTOS BY TOMMY EWASKO 16 ~ SEPTEMBER 2009 ~ ARROYO
  3. 3. PRESERVATIONISTS EVERYWHERE BREATHE A SIGH OF RELIEF WHEN HOME- OWNERS EMBRACE THEIR ARCHITECTURAL TREASURES, OPTING TO ADAPT THEM TO CURRENT NEEDS RATHER THAN TEAR THEM DOWN AND START OVER, AN APPROACH SO POPULAR IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA. IT’S A SUSTAINABLE CHOICE AND THE ONE MADE BY OWNERS OF A CONTEMPORARY GEM IN THE SAN GABRIEL FOOTHILLS, WHICH WON AN AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF ARCHITECTS AWARD IN 1990. THE COUPLE APPROACHED LOS ANGELES ARCHITECT BARTON PHELPS WITH THEIR DESIRE TO ADD AN OFFICE SUITE TO THEIR 5,000-SQUARE- FOOT HOME. THE ELEGANT TWO-STORY RESIDENCE, DESIGNED BY THE INFLU- ENTIAL FIRM OF BUFF & HENSMAN IN 1984, WAS CREATED FOR CLIENTS INSPIRED BY LE CORBUSIER BUILDINGS THEY HAD SEEN IN PARIS. Opposite page: A Japanese-style door opens onto an office addition and light-filled balcony. Near right: A striking marble table anchors the wife’s office space. Far right: Light spilling onto an interior garden travels through windows in the floor. Indeed, the dynamic arrangement of the structure’s white rectangular volumes does bring to mind the work of the French modernist master. Organized by strong vertical and horizontal axes, the U-shaped structure wraps around an interior courtyard featuring Japanese rock gardens and profuse plantings. An elevated walkway continues straight through the house, extending into the backyard and over the swimming pool until it ends at a sculpture wall at the rear of the property. Inside is a soaring two-story living room shaped by clean white walls, warm oak flooring and rift-sawn oak cabi- netry. Vast quantities of glass and numerous skylights admit plentiful natural light. While grand in scale, the effect, notes the current owner, is “simple, serene, with a Japanese sensibility.” After living in the home for a few years, the owners decided to add an extensive office suite. Maintaining the home’s serenity and respecting its original architecture were high priorities, so they brought in a firm known for sensitive updates of important buildings — Barton Phelps & Associates. In addition to a nationwide portfolio of private homes, Phelps is responsible for the renovation of UCLA’s historic Royce Hall, as well as the expansions of Frank Gehry’s Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and Richard Neutra’s University Elementary School at UCLA. —CONTINUED ON PAGE 18 ARROYO ~ SEPTEMBER 2009 ~ 17
  4. 4. EARTHLY DESIGN —CONTINUED FROM PAGE 17 The assignment called for his-and-hers offices, plus a combined office/kitchenette for an assistant, a bath and substantial additional storage and book- shelves. Whereas the original plan provided for a sec- ond-floor office/library in an open loft above the living room, the owners wanted rooms that could be closed off from the rest of the house — quiet and pri- vate, yet easily accessible. As it became clear that the logical place for the addition was above the garage and adjacent rooms, another objective emerged — maintaining the natural lighting of the first floor. Fortunately, as Phelps notes, “The manipulation of daylight was pivotal to my training with the mas- ter, [the prominent late architect] Charles Moore.” To transmit light previously admitted through sky- lights, Phelps located a small Japanese garden at the center of the new wing. With its walls opened on three sides, the garden bounces light from a large skylight through windows in its floor to the down- stairs bath and hallway. Featuring a bronze Han fig- ure, plantings and river rocks, the garden brings a serene sensibility to the new wing. As the wife and owner acknowledges, “Instead of an insurmountable problem, Phelps seized this challenge as an opportu- nity to innovate.” The garden is flanked by two commodious offices connected by the assistant’s office/kitchenette. While the wife’s office is anchored by a marble con- ference table and a fireplace, the husband’s space has a meeting table by a window and a comfortable sofa for casual confabs. Both offices feature skylights and varied ceiling levels and are completely wired for up- to-date computer networking. To create a seamless join to the rest of the house, Phelps employed many of the same materials seen elsewhere in the home. The extensive built-in shelving, cabinetry and desks are of rift-sawn oak. The flooring matches the origi- nal, the windows are framed like the originals and hardware is repeated. “Most people don’t know this is an addition,” the owner says. Because Phelps is interested in how a building interacts with its surroundings, he used the addition as an opportunity to improve the home’s relation- ship to the outdoors. Where the original plan heavily Large windows in one of the new favored views to the pool and rear gardens, Phelps offices fill the room with natural light. accentuated views to the front courtyard. The wife’s office surrenders most of one wall to floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto pieces, Phelps created a dramatic recessed niche above the fireplace, lit by a courtyard views and an outdoor balcony that leads to a stunning Zen rock skylight, and cantilevered a pair of wooden shelves to support the sculptures. garden on the roof of the garage. The office addition not only adds substantial space, it completes the orig- To complement the owners’ Asian art collection and echo a living-room inal Buff & Hensman composition. Without expanding the home’s footprint, table fashioned from a Japanese door, Phelps integrated a replica at the entry the new wing strengthens the sense of enclosure around the entry courtyard of the new wing, copying the hardware from a Tonsu chest and hiding its and provides comfortable, yet separate, work quarters. “This is the part of the sliding hardware behind a soffit. The wife wanted to feature a pair of bronze house we live in the most,” the wife says. “Barton gave us a seamless addition Han Dynasty horses above her bluestone office fireplace. To highlight these — and yet it is distinctively his, with his genius and flair.” AM 18 ~ SEPTEMBER 2009 ~ ARROYO

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