THE HOUSE rises from a crest in the Hollywood Hills as if it were part of the land itself. With no windows on the entrance facade, it is initially forbidding, then intriguing as the warmth of its visual geometry becomes apparent.
Designed by Ricardo Legorreta, who at 56 is Mexico's premier younger architect, the house, like its owner, actor Ricardo Montalban, bridges Mexican and Californian sensibilities.
"Walls, water and earth colors, the three elements from Mexican culture," Legorreta has said, are clearly evident in the home.
In this house, it is the use of walls, in particular, that echoes both Mexico's Indian monuments and Spanish Colonial architecture. Coming together at sharp angles with openings that constantly reveal other walls, other rooms, they invite people to move through the space while providing a feeling of intimacy.
Montalban and his wife, Georgiana, originally envisioned a Spanish Colonial home on the site, but for Legorreta, a disciple of the great Mexican architect Luis Barragan, it is essential that architecture grow from the land. Montalban recalls that after exploring their site and making sketches, Legorreta told them: "I don't see a house here, I see a sculpture." And indeed, what emerged could be described as residential sculpture.