My first client from the internet was back in 1999. After agreeing to work together, at our next meeting he informs me that he wants to take a year to design his new home. A wet dream to a architect.
Having purchased an ocean view ranch home in Bay Park San Diego, with a failing foundation, we decided to scrape the old house and build new. Improperly filled soil in the 60s led to the failure, and was so deep it was not practical to remove and re-compact. The new house would need a caisson and grade beam foundation – like long vertical fingers reaching down through the bad soil, into the good.
As a single man in the tech industry, he wanted a modern home taking advantage of the small lot’s ocean, bay and city lights view. Another aspect of the owner’s program – to create a 21st century living space, incorporating technology of course, but more importantly creating an open living space breaking down the “room” concept into a single “21st century living room” space. This included a “food prep area, and an alcohol bar.
During this lengthy design process we became the best of friends, almost like brothers, having many common interests – and, he’s excellent at mixing exquisite cocktails. We went to several concerts together and during construction, he rented a house near mine, and to be totally honest, there were late night walks between…
This close relationship continued thru construction and way beyond, until his ex girlfriend commissioned me to remodel her house. Then it became awkward for me. Really awkward. The ex is an awesome person also, but they’d had a less than amicable breakup apparently – I felt extremely caught in between. Unfortunately, I didn’t handle it well, and caused my relationship with this great friend to sour.
Back to architecture and the title of this post;
“I don’t want a front door” my client tells me. Assuming that it was so 20th century to have a front door, I spoke about practicality and resale etc. which he totally got, then said; ” ok, then it has to be all or nothing”. His meaning was it had to be an extravagant huge (all) front door, or none. I believe we achieved both. The solution we called “all and nothing”. Viewing the image below, you’ll be the judge.
The ocean view being to the west, afternoon sun exposure was a major consideration for all the glass necessary. A large circular deck creates massive sun protection and a large exterior living area, where most meals are enjoyed. Pass-thru windows in the food prep area and the bar, add to the indoor/outdoor lifestyle and have worked out perfectly for entertaining.
As the years have passed, we are still friends, albeit not as close as before, unfortunately. He’s since gotten married to an amazing woman, built another house in Hawaii – which he kept me in the loop for… which I enjoyed very much, and am grateful for. Of course I think we could have killed that Hawaii design together.
Our San Diego house was featured on What You Get For The Money. My only national television exposure, so far.
Ultimately an amazing experience, with an amazing client, and friend. Every project is so different, and so personal.