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Livable modern art in Brentwood

The Eric Owen Moss-designed Lawson/Westen House is a geometric amalgamation of concrete, steel, glass and wood.

June 27, 2010|By Darrell Satzman
  • A lawn interspersed with young trees runs along the front of the Eric Owen Moss-designed house in Brentwood.
A lawn interspersed with young trees runs along the front of the Eric Owen… (Tom Bonner )

A critically acclaimed contemporary home designed by Eric Owen Moss has come on the market for the first time in Brentwood.

Featured in books, magazines and television shows, the Lawson/Westen House is a geometric amalgamation of concrete, steel, glass and wood highlighted by a three-story truncated cone that rises over the kitchen.

Moss, director of the Southern California Institute of Architecture, conceived the cylindrical Gateway Art Tower and other structures in Culver City's Hayden Tract, and his Los Angeles firm has designed museums, theaters and commercial buildings across the globe.

Moss also dabbles in sculpture, and the Lawson/Westen House, which was completed in 1993, is engineered as livable modern art. Distinguished by its lacquered concrete exterior, circular interior spaces and crisscrossing planes of steel and wood, it's the only completed home that Moss has designed from the ground up.

From the street, a side view of the house behind a white brick wall and polished steel gates provides a glimpse of the whimsical flourishes that Moss incorporated into his design. A jigsaw puzzle of large poured concrete blocks suggests a baker's hat with a large tilted window carved out of its center.

A rectangular lawn interspersed with young trees runs along the front of the house and ends at the point where a long flat wall meets the structure's signature three-story cone. An angled concrete awning supported by wood beams and steel supports juts down from the roof line over the flat part of the facade, shading a concrete patio below.

The entry is illuminated by a square light well rising more than two stories. Down a short hallway flanked by a wall of glass is the vaulted living room, the ceiling soaring to 24 feet at its highest point. The light-filled space is imbued with a sense of warmth that belies its industrial materials. Variously sized rectangular windows take up much of the room's southern wall including a long strip of glass running along the top. The living room also has milky granite floors in a terrazzo pattern and a galvanized steel fireplace with a sculpted smoke chamber that climbs to the slanted roofline.

The living room occupies the physical center of the house but the kitchen is the home's focal point. Located at the bottom of the three-story cone, the semi-circular kitchen affords views of all the home's common areas.

A stairway winds around the cone to the second-floor landing and then to a third-level office with a custom-built desk that hugs the curved wall. Additional stairs climb to a small, high-walled observation deck where the top of the cone has been blunted. There are views of the ocean on one side and the Getty Center and the Santa Monica Mountains on the other.

The kitchen has three sinks, two dishwashers, birch cabinetry and a massive sculpted slab of brown and red granite that doubles as a food prep surface and an eating area. Double doors of frosted glass open to the dining room, with low ceilings, exposed wood beams, recessed lighting and an entire wall of glass.

The master bedroom occupies most of the second floor of the cone. Among its numerous windows is a narrow, rectangular pane with wooden ribs that looks like a recessed ladder rising from eye level to mid-ceiling. The master bedroom also has a private deck and a fireplace with a granite base. The master bath features skylights, an oversized shower and bath and a walk-in closet.

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos on a CD, caption information, the name of the photographer and a description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Questions may be sent to

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