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THEM | Home Design: Ocean

Pacific Overtures

In The Palisades, An Angular House Leans Into The Coastal Winds

March 18, 2007|Barbara Thornburg






Doreen and Jerry Rochman had to move after a slide undermined the structural integrity of their Pacific Palisades home, but they refused to leave the area. "We had fallen in love with the whole ambience of the ocean--hearing the waves, watching the seagulls and unbelievable sunsets," says Jerry, a former Midwesterner. "When we lived in Chicago, the only view we had was of another building."

They found a two-story '50s ranch house on a slope overlooking the Pacific, about a five-minute drive up the hill from their damaged home. They bought it and settled in to get to know the property. Two years later, they called in the late designer Frank Israel, whose work they admired. He developed the initial plans to redesign the house into a two-story stucco-and-glass home with a dramatic canted facade that now resembles the prow of a ship heading for Point Dume.

Culver City-based architect Barbara Callas later took over the project. "It was a spectacular site," she recalls. "There were floor-to-ceiling windows that almost made you feel like you were falling out the back side of the house."

But Callas wasn't enamored with the large expanse of glass and instead opted to treat the view as "an installation art work." She created a horizontal band of windows that frames one long panorama. "It makes it more dramatic to show portions of the same view in different ways," says the architect. "We didn't want just another modern box exposing a beautiful view."

More than 60 lineal feet of Low-E glass wraps the expanded open-plan living and dining room. If the glare from the west-facing windows becomes too much, 5 feet of overhang and SheerWeave 2000 shades cut 95% of the direct sunlight but still allow the Rochmans to take in the view.

A mitered window with a built-in seat in a corner of the living room provides a comfortable spot for watching seabirds and the Malibu beaches below. Opposite, the dining room features a complex window/door wall overlooking a deck and a south-facing window that cants out 7 degrees. "The tilting of the home's windows is really about creating an architecture that has an intensity--maybe not equal to the view but at least able to have a conversation with it," Callas says.

Custom-made mahogany-framed sliding windows on both sides of the room were built and installed on-site. The home needed sturdy wood sliders because of the gusts of wind that buffet the bluff. "The Rochmans often leave them open to cool the house," says Callas. "They don't have to worry that they'll slam shut like a casement window and smash their fingers.


Percentage of glass: 35%

Glazing: 1/2-inch single-glazed glass

Highlight: mitered corner window


Architect's Advice: "People shouldn't be afraid to edit their views. So many homes I see have these amazing views, and every room looks at them in the same way. It loses its impact. Framing different aspects of the same vista makes it more powerful." --Barbara Callas


For a video tour of this home go to



Architect: Barbara Callas, Callas Shortridge Architects, Culver City, (310) 280-0404, Initial design by the late Frank Israel.

Fabrication: Windows and doors were custom-fabricated on-site by Herman Construction Co., Westlake Village, (818) 706-8806.

Dining room: 7-degree canted window. Not shown at left: window door, fixed dual-paned glass window, sliding window, mitered-glass corner window. Window shades by SheerWeave 2000, at Aero Shade Co. Inc., Los Angeles, (323) 655-2411, Bedroom: mitered corner window, dual-glazed casement window.

Living room: mitered corner window of 1/2-inch, single-glazed glass. Not shown: square wood sliders.

Kitchen: glazed mitered-glass corner window.

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