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Reach For The Stars

An Aerie Above Malibu Commands Views Of The Mountains, Ocean And Sky

March 18, 2007|Barbara Thornburg






Dr. Richard Feinstein's home in the Santa Monica Mountains above Malibu burned to the ground in 1993. Ten years later he built another home on the same spot. "My friends told me I was crazy to go back, but I love the serenity and the power that comes from the mountains that surround the canyon."

Feinstein enlisted Santa Monica architect Stephen Kanner to design a fire-resistant home that also made the most of his aerie's vistas. Feinstein dubbed his reborn home Simpatica Sem, an Italian-Tibetan hybrid term he translates as "a blending of the heart and mind."

A handsome two-story glass-and-wood frame structure with porcelain-tile cladding, a composite fire-retardant roof with its own sprinkler system and fire-resistant xeriscape plantings satisfied the homeowner's need for safety. And the long rectangular design--one room deep--ensures a view from every room.

Kanner used a commercial storefront window system along the south-facing front of the home. Anodized aluminum mullions, set on a 4-foot grid, accommodated windows of varying sizes. The mullions were cut on-site and fitted with custom glass. "It gives you a lot of flexibility," says Kanner. "You can replace or change the type of windows easily."

The master bathroom is a case in point. Above the tub is a grid with both fixed and operable windows. A hopper window at the bottom has a hinge at the top and cranks open, while a diagonal-set casement window opens like a door with a right-hand hinge. "We used the hopper close to the tub in case a child is bathing," says Kanner. "It only opens 6 inches, so they can't fall out. The casement opens 90 degrees and is higher up on the wall." Adjacent to the bathroom counter, Kanner cut a fixed vertical slot window to frame a sliver of ocean that Feinstein can enjoy while he shaves.

Highlighting the upstairs master-bedroom suite is a custom 60-inch round window that zeroes in on canyon foliage. Floor-to-ceiling sliding doors with clerestories and a mitered corner window--known as a "butt-glaze"--frame vistas along the deck wall. A large skylight allows for stargazing.

"From his bed he can take in mountain and ocean views, then look up at the sky," says Kanner. "It's the spot where he can see it all."


Percentage of glass: 40%

Glazing: Solarban 60 Low-E glass

Highlight: storefront mullion system


Architect's Advice: "When you have a site with a dramatic view . . . you need to create recesses or projections over the south- and west-facing windows. That way you'll get the view and the shade. It's like putting on a baseball cap when you're at Dodger Stadium looking into the sun."--Stephen Kanner



Architect: Stephen Kanner, Kanner Architects, Santa Monica, (310) 451-5400, Fabrication: All windows use Solarban Low-E glass by PPG Industries Inc., Pittsburgh, (888) PPG-GLAS, All operable windows are by Fleetwood Windows & Doors, Corona, (800) 736-7363, www.fleet All fixed windows are by Arcadia Inc., Vernon, (323) 269-7300,

Dining room: Two walls of fixed storefront glass windows with anodized aluminum mullions. Master bedroom: South deck wall: Two sliders open at center with two fixed panels at each end. Clerestory windows above doors. Mitered single-glaze corner window. Window shades by Silent Gliss, Norcross, Ga., (800) 938-7225, Custom circular single-pane window. Silk and linen king-size bedspread, striped pillow, pillow case, Geo pillow sham, all at Armani Casa, West Hollywood, (310) 248-2440. Bathroom: Fixed slot window. Fixed storefront windows (above tub) include operable hopper and casement windows. Penelope bath towel, at Armani Casa.

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