Pollack Residence

At some point in the 1980’s, the original 50’s-era house was “remodeled” in a quasi-Post Modern style. By the time current owners acquired the property, the house had been covered with synthetic stucco and crowned with a clunky parapet. In front of the house, a partially submerged carport had been enclosed and topped with a railing to become a roof porch. At the rear of the house, upper level porches were supported by unattractive pipe columns, and generic gutters & downspouts had been added. Any mid-century modern charm that may have existed was gone.

The new owners wanted to add a family room & two bedrooms; a swimming pool; and to improve the appearance of the exterior. The architect’s solution involved relocating the garage to an inconspicuous place, and inserting the new family room where the garage had previously been. A three story guest bedroom tower was added at the opposite end of the original house. The clunky parapets were removed and the roof reframed to extend beyond the wall below to give depth to the façade. In the interstitial space between the new family room and main house, a koi pond was inserted, creating a sunken garden viewed from the entry approach above. On the back of the house, new black steel structure was inserted to replace the unattractive pipe columns supporting the porches. New terrace, pool, stairs, railings, and shade structure were integrated as extensions from the house. New wood siding & trim was added to the exterior to soften the starkness of the all-white stucco cladding, and to compliment the brown tones of the existing stone foundation walls.

Design Challenge

Of architectural interest dating back to the original structure, were rough stacked stone retaining walls where the carport had been submerged. As part of the design solution, these walls were exposed (as archeology) and incorporated into the new family room. Steel structure supporting the new roof was expressed inboard, with the glass enclosure placed on top of the stone wall, requiring a carefully crafted top edge to form a level sill for the glazing. In addition to expressing the window-wall as separate from the black structure and white roof, a wood plank ceiling plane was suspended to define the central seating area. Where the existing enclosed garage had been an eyesore in front of the house, the new family room pavilion became an aesthetically pleasing & interesting element that welcomed, rather than detracted, from the approach to the entrance.

Physical Context

This renovation & addition project began by responding to the existing conditions of the building as it had been configured. In reacting, relationships from the interior spaces to the exterior context were extended and refined. The development of the new family room utilized window walls to bring in views of surrounding foliage as well as changing light (as the sun arcs from east to west thru its clerestory window). Surrounding window walls provided inside/outside views of the ‘sunken garden’ with its koi pond & plantings. The new space features the exposed stone wall, which can be seen moving from exterior to interior space. Fountains in the sunken garden provide the sound of falling water which is heard before it is seen when approaching the front entry (the sound beckons the visitor to look over the stone wall into the sunken garden to discover its source). The new guest bedroom wing (two bedrooms stacked over a basement) is visually separated from the original house with a transparent link allowing the viewer to see all the way through the house to the landscape beyond. At the back of the house, new terraces and swimming pool were developed as extensions of the interior space, cascading out and down in to the garden from the existing living/dining/kitchen spaces. A new stair was added to connect the upper level down to pool level. A shade structure was created to visually anchor the north end of the pool’s axis, allowing the sunbather the option of a shady spot in the area otherwise facing the southern exposure.