AnnaMaria Stephens 2015-10-07 01:23:49
The hilltop Gallery House in La Jolla is a contemporary homage to art-world heavyweights whose masterpieces are overshadowed only by the views. Perched on a canyon above the sea, the Gallery House doesn’t just frame a panorama of La Jolla’s coastline. The concrete-and-glass stunner also showcases the owners’ collection of world-class contemporary art. From custom niches for sculptures to seamlessly indoor-outdoor living spaces, this singular residence features something truly spectacular to see at every single turn. “As you move through the home, the views become more sweeping and apparent, as does the artwork,” says architect William Hayer, who collaborated closely with Seattle’s Lucas Design Associates and San Diego contractor Hill Construction Company on the exacting project. “The setting is amazing,” says interior designer David Lucas, who runs his Seattle firm with his sister, Suzie Lucas. “We were very respectful of what the client was looking to achieve. It perfectly balances the display of art with a relationship to the landscape and the view,” he says. The La Jolla property’s confined linear footprint— about 60 feet deep from the street to the top of the slope— demanded a creative approach. On the east side of the sculptural home, a concrete sheltering wall mimics the curve of the crowded cul-de-sac, while the west side echoes the craggy canyon’s sinuous contours. It’s an attractive addition to the covetable neighborhood, which already boasts boldface architecture in spades. Known as the Jewel by the Sea, La Jolla is home to everything from midcentury-modern gems by Russell Forester and Henry Hester to contemporary marvels by Wallace Cunningham—there’s even a Zaha Hadid in the works. Inspired by the site’s unique topography, Hayer’s clean-lined design fits right in. A striking walnut-and-bronze pivot door opens to a private interior courtyard, where a frameless glass entry focuses the eye on an infinity pool that appears to float between the sea and the sky. The home’s T-shaped foyer serves as a gallery hallway, bookended with large-scale artwork by Robert Irwin and Ryan McGinness. In the entry, white walls and smooth gray limestone flooring—a material that carries through to the outdoor spaces—complement cast-in-place concrete accents throughout the home. Oak in subtly varying finishes lends warmth and contrast to the living spaces, from the flooring to the ceiling paneling that extends outside to a covered lanai. “Color was really important to the owners,” explains Suzie. “They didn’t want everything to be stark white, like that typical modern gallery feeling. We created a neutral backdrop for the art but kept things organic with woods, poured concrete with a soft texture and tones that are inviting without being overpowering.” The living room, which opens to the infinity pool through a floor-to-ceiling glass pocket wall—one of four that connect the interior to the outdoors—serves as the other focal point of the foyer. High ceilings emphasize the scale of the artwork that hangs in the room, including a Frank Thiel piece above the concrete-clad fireplace and a massive red Manny Farber painting on the opposite wall. The Lucases custom-designed the furnishings to suit the space, from the light linen sofa to the dark leather lounge chair.The designers also incorporated color and texture in understated touches, like the champagne glass topping the bronze coffee table and the side tables crafted from smooth maple and fumed oak.Even the large silk rug was customized to be more durable. “They didn’t want to worry if they had a party,” says Suzie.“But they also wanted a formal space that was quiet and subtle and less playful than other areas.” Sharing a wall and double-sided fireplace with the living room, a protected lanai makes the ultimate lounging space. Accessed through tall paned doors, the space opens to a cantilevered terrace, which includes an outdoor dining table and a low entertaining area with a fire pit. “One of the greatest things about the architect was that he was open to our ideas,” says David, who suggested the sunken space with built-in concrete seating. “We didn’t want a ton of outdoor furniture because it clutters the view. This way you have functional seating that you don’t even notice from the house.” The home’s formal dining room is another standout space, with expansive modern paned windows facing the courtyard. At the room’s center, a nickel-based table mirrors the shape of the round steel-and-glass light fixture above. The space showcases a pair of black Joe Goode paintings, as well as a black-and-white John McLaughlin painting and an onyx floor sculpture from Kenneth Capps tucked in a highly visible corner. “When you come up to the house, you look through and see the artwork in the dining room and it feels really special,” says David. Even the airy kitchen, which features custom oak cabinetry and a honed graffite-marble island in warm white-veined gray, was designed with art in mind. Chairs upholstered in cheery mustard leather nod to the yellow in a nearby John McLaughlin painting that hangs on a floating wall made from architectural concrete. The Lucases worked tirelessly to get the board-form texture just right.“We’re very detailed, and we work with incredible craftsmen,” explains David, whose firm currently is working on several projects for high-end clients in Southern California. As for the Gallery House, it truly lives up to its name. “It’s so open and organized and balanced,” says David. “It really allows the owners to show off their incredible collection of art while maximizing privacy and views.”
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