You can't call this an adobe because it is built of cement, and it isn't Santa Fe architecture because it's in Studio City." That is Brentwood designer-builder Stephen Ball describing one of his intriguing houses, pictured here. "I think Southwest Architecture probably says it best," he concludes.
Ball, who was assisted by Donald Randall, a young Southern California architect, and Carol Piehl, the project manager, says that the building's site is responsible for the design. "The site is very steep, and I wanted the house to work with that. I didn't want to chop away the side of the hill or put the house on stilts or use any of the usual solutions. What we did was cut out a series of terraces and step the house up them."
Of the three main challenges in any design project--aesthetic, functional, financial--Ball's judgment about which is the hardest to meet has changed over the years. "In the '70s, when I was just starting out, I thought the aesthetic was the most difficult problem I faced. Then I realized that I could handle that just fine but it was the functional, the practical aspect that was the real problem. Well, time and experience have taken care of that too. Now I realize I can make anything if I have the financial resources." As an example, he points to the rounded edges of the interior surfaces. "These are great to look at, and I think they are safer, but they are more expensive to do than hard edges. I thought whoever liked details like that and was willing to pay for them would probably be a single guy, in the movie business. The whole house is sort of a fantasy, like a movie. I never imagined a couple with children would buy it."