Andrew Liang, Li Wen
Designed and constructed in 1962 by noted architect Carl Maston for himself and his family, this house is located in the Hollywood Hills high above Sunset Blvd. on a steep sloped uphill lot overlooking the city below. A house of 150 sq. m., Maston imaginatively adapted the house to the hill rather than the typical attitude of the hill to the house. This was accomplished by using a series of concrete retaining walls that served also as the walls of the house itself, thus providing an economic advantage to the overall cost of the project. In essence, the house is conceived as a habitable retaining wall holding back the steep hillside lot; concrete, glass and wood were the primary construction materials used to realize the house.
Forty years and three owners later, the house suffered years of neglect and many layers of alteration. The present owner hired the architects for a gentle fix-up of the house. Three years later, what started as a “makeover” ended up being a full restoration of the house, leaving no wall untouched and no stone unturned.
The architects, who also acted in the capacity of the construction coordinators, applied the firm’s typical “research and development” process to the project and incrementally brought the house back to life in the original vision of Mr. Maston.
The work was tedious and forensic in nature, as every task required a lightness of touch, and the peeling away process typically known as “demolition” required more finesse than even reconstruction. For example, the many layers of paint which have since been applied to the concrete walls needed to be removed through many chemical applications and wash-downs as any method of conventional blasting would have removed with it the board-form texture so essential to the architectural character of the interior. All other materials were carefully removed from the existing house and had to be examined to determine if they were original and worth saving to be refurbished and reused. Along the way, modern technology and conveniences were seamlessly incorporated into the house so as to provide the comfort associated with and expected from a contemporary residential environment. The result of the collaborative effort between the owner and architect yielded a meticulously restored structure for today’s lifestyle while being able to convey the value and spirit of urban living and lifestyle from a time past.