Thursday, December 15, 2016

West Coast Diary

December 9, 2016. Sunset at Bellosguardo, Clark estate, view from the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Reginald Davis Johnson, architect,1933. More than five years have passed since Huguette Clark died in a New York hospital and more than 50 years since anyone lived at her oceanfront 22,000-square-foot mansion set on 23 acres with 1,000 feet of ocean frontage. Although the Bellosguardo Foundation was established two years ago "to foster and promote the arts," the private foundation has apparently yet to take ownership of the property or announced plans for its future. With a value believed to be in excess of $85 million, the "Wuthering Heights" bluff top estate reportedly requires $40,000 in monthly maintenance costs.
Montecito Sketches
By Augustus Mayhew

At this year’s Santa Barbara American Institute of Architects Design Awards Gala, four members submitted projects in the Architectural Heritage category honoring the area’s time-honored Hispanic tradition synonymous with this low profile seaside town.  Ever since a 1925 earthquake leveled many of the area’s eclectic pastiche of cottages and bungalows, Santa Barbara has sought a cohesive picturesque Spanish Colonial aesthetic where highest and best use means maintaining the quality of life for existing residents not one tailored for those who seek to exploit it. In opting to replace 3,500 square-foot houses with 10,000 square-foot spec mansions and lining its scenic oceanfront with multi-story condominiums. places like Palm Beach endure the constant upheaval of construction rather than repose in the compositional charm and hillside calm found in Santa Barbara guarded by a vigilant design community. Yet, there is a price to pay in achieving this copacetic environment — a meticulous building process. “Years, it took years for us to build our house. We’ve lived in Montecito 30 years, we’re not moving, but we would never build again,” residents told me. “Years?” I asked. “Yes, years, and then there were the inspections…”

Santa Barbara supports a strong sense of artful design where Modernist and Monterey styles coexist, having established restrictions and guidelines for historic buildings more than 50 years ago.  After the evening at the AIA Design Awards Gala, I explored an ensemble of nearby architectural marvels set along Montecito’s shoreline extending from the Reginald Johnson-designed Four Seasons Resort-Biltmore to Bellosguardo that Johnson designed for the Clark family in Santa Barbara’s most prominent location. In between those virtuoso bookends, I surveyed Miraflores, another Johnson residential design, now the Music Academy of the West, and the chapel at the Santa Barbara Cemetery designed by architect George Washington Smith with murals by Alfredo Ramos Martinez, regarded as an influential founder of Mexican Modernism painting.

Again, I spent the week at the idyllic Casa de Maria, a magnificent  Montecito mansion on 26 acres repurposed as an interfaith retreat center, funded more than 60 years ago by Los Angeles philanthropist Carrie Estelle Doheny and additional support from Hollywood celebrities. The week’s highlight was a holiday Festival of Lights in the manse’s acoustically-tuned Music Room where Leopold Stokowski played in 1941. As the more than 75 guests lit individual candles, they were regaled by a Madrigal troupe singing from the room’s orchestral balcony where string quartets once performed.
During Casa de Maria's holiday event a Madrigal troupe sang from a recessed candle-lit orchestral balcony overlooking the Music Room.
December 8, 2016
Holiday Gala-Santa Barbara AIA Awards
Four Seasons Resort-Biltmore, Loggia Room
Reginald Davis Johnson, architect. 1927

The Santa Barbara chapter of the American Institute of Architects held its holiday gala and awards in the Loggia Room at the historic Reginald Johnson-designed Four Seasons Resort-Biltmore that recently competed an extensive decade-long renovation. Outgoing president Clay Aurell (AB Design Studio) welcomed the more than 100 guests before turning the evening over to the group’s 2017 president Dan Johnston (Architecture J.A.). While the wintry chill kept the louvered loggia doors closed, guests converged on the heated outdoor patio bar and the reception areas while Beet relish and goat cheese bruschetta, Lobster avocado salad and Kobe meatball hors d’oeuvres were passed before dinner was served from buffet stations. The event’s co-chairs were County Architect Robert Ooley, Rodney Baker and Tara Rizzi. I was invited to join the R & R Trust table for dinner and the evening’s award program.
Bruce Giffin and Dan Johnston, 2017 president of the Santa Barbara American Institute of Architects.
Loggia Room,. Chris Fossek was at the guitar.
The Loggia Room filled quickly.
Design awards for Honor, Merit and Honorable Mention were given in various categories.
Clay Aurell, past president of the Santa Barbara AIA.
Santa Barbara's County Architect Robert Ooley.
Tara Rizzi, executive director of Santa Barbara AIA.
Loggia Room.
Los Angeles architect Barbara Bestor and Susan Van Atta. Barbara was one of the competition's judges.
Barbara Bestor most recently worked on the restoration of Space Age architect John Lautner's Silvertop (Reiner-Burchill residence, 1956-1976) for Beats by Dre president Luke Wood.
Heather and Andres Hoeke.
John Heffner and Stephanie Campbell.
Loggia Room, terrace bar.
Kenneth Radtkey (Blackbird Architects) and Bob Kupiec (Kupiec Architects PC).
Simon Ooley and Augustina Bertone.
Lynda Millner and Seth Don.
David Rivetti and Paul Rupp.
Paseo Ferrelo, Dan Weber Architecture, now known as Anacapa.
Macy Architecture was cited for this artful multi-family project.
Brent Winebrenner.
Acme Architecture principal Keith Rivera is the SBAIA vice-president
Robert Mislang and Kathy Kerstines.
Rodney Baker, Santa Barbara Courthouse Legacy Foundation board of trustees.
Mural Room, Santa Barbara Courthouse.
Megan Minahan and Jesse Goss.
Past president Barry Winick announced noted post-modernist architect John Burgee, Johnson/Burgee Architects, will be a judge for the 2017 SBAIA Award (inset).
Barry Winick, Winick Architects, received an award for the design of Louis Vuitton Hilton Hawaii (above).
The Biltmore, lobby.
The Biltmore's historic tile murals recreate the area's history. Fred William Stringer is credited with designing many of the murals.
The Biltmore's tile fountains have been restored.
The Biltmore's ceilings have also been refurbished.
Biltmore ceiling, detail.
Biltmore port cochère, light fixture.
Miraflores-Music Academy of the West
1070 Fairway Road, Montecito
Reginald Johnson, architect. C.1915.

The Los Angeles Herald reported on the Santa Barbara Country Club's reorganization.
The Music Academy of the West's campus was first home to the Santa Barbara Country Club. The original clubhouse was designed by Francis Wilson and following a fire was rebuilt in 1912. Constrained by the available grounds to expand their golf course, the club relocated, becoming the Montecito Country Club.

Established in 1896, the Santa Barbara Country Club’s engineering problems and insufficient supply of irrigated water led to an inferior golf course, according to contemporaneous newspaper accounts. Thus, the club purchased a 60-acre parcel west of its oceanfront site that was part of the Crocker-Sperry Ranch, commissioning Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue to design a new clubhouse. A club member John Percival Jefferson bought the existing property, renovating the clubhouse into a Mediterranean-style private residence named Miraflores under the supervision of architect Reginald Johnson and landscape architect Paul Thiene

In 1951 Jefferson family heirs deeded the property to the Music Academy of the West for their exclusive use as a “conservatory of music only.” Founded in 1947 by the likes of soprano Lotte Lehmann and conductor Otto Kemperer, the academy established its campus on the 10-acre Montecito site located between The Biltmore and the Santa Barbara Cemetery.  In  2014 the Music Academy and the New York Philharmonic launched a four-year collaboration where faculty from New York teach and perform at the academy during its summer music festival and students serve apprenticeships with the Philharmonic in New York. The Music Academy’s facility and setting are sensational.
Main House, façade. This past year the Main House was renamed for mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne. Nearly a century ago, the Los Angeles Herald described Miraflores as "looks like an ancient church."
Marilyn Horne House, vestibule detail.
The gardens were designed by the renowned Paul Thiene.
The former rose garden is now known as Anne's Garden. Landscape architect Paul Thine's drawings and papers are housed at the Environmental Design Archives at the University of California, Berkeley. Associated with the Olmsted Brothers firm until 1910, Thiene came to California during the Panama-California Exposition and went on to work in Beverly Hills, Pasadena and Santa Barbara. At one time, he was in partnership with Lloyd Wright, Frank Lloyd Wright's son.
Garden view.
Santa Barbara's collection of startling trees is endless.
Don Quijote Courtyard
Miraflores, 1932

Florence Yoch, designer
The courtyard is an artful visual narrative composed of 1930s painted tiles.
Don Quijote courtyard, tile detail. A veritable showcase of 1930s graphic design.
Don Quijote courtyard, detail.
Don Quijote courtyard, detail.
Don Quijote courtyard, fountain. As a set designer, Florence Yoch was best known for her Tara settings in the classic film Gone with the Wind.
Santa Barbara Cemetery Chapel
George Washington Smith, architect. 1924-1926
Alfredo Ramos Martinez, mural artist, 1930

The chapel's architect is the subject of the book George Washington Smith: Architect of the Spanish Colonial Revival. Smith was the designer of the Steedman House, known as Casa del Herrero, featured in NYSD's Montecito: Sublime Splendor
The tiles for the chapel's dome were added after the chapel was completed.
Chapel murals, Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1871-1946), artist.
Chapel murals, Alfredo Ramos Martinez (1871-1946), artist.
Santa Barbara Cemetery, chapel.
A double-columned Byzantine-style arcade links the chapel with the offices.
Augustus Sahlberg Mausoleum. The cemetery has several architectural spectacles.
Duryea Mausoleum.
Bellosguardo, the view from the cemetery …
Bellosguardo. Shortly after completing Bellosguardo at the height of the Great Depression, architect Reginald Johnson retired from designing mansions. He spent the remainder of his life as a social activist focused on improving public housing, slum removal, and urban renewal while developing his interest in Midcentury Modernism.
Emmor J. Miley House II
La Casa de Maria

800 El Bosque Road - Montecito

First named Rancho del Bosque, the estate became known during the 1950s as La Casa de Maria. Construction began in 1924 with designs credited to Mary McLaughlin Craig. When the owner suffered financial reversals, building was halted in 1928. The next owner John de Blois Wacks retained architect Chester Carjola who finished the house in 1933. A decade later, the stone manor house and grounds were acquired by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart in Los Angeles who eventually converted it into an interfaith center open for private retreats to all faiths and beliefs.
View of the main house from the lower terraced herb garden.
From the rocks below, a view of the staircase leading to the upper loggia terrace trimmed with bougainvillea.
The upper terrace is bordered with flowering birds of paradise.
The loggia's French doors lead into the original Music Room. During the 1930s the owner built The Hermitage, a three-bedroom guesthouse on the grounds for his music teacher.
Façade, window grille.
Façade, window grille.
Façade, view from the downward slope.
Among the shrubs and plants
A tree rooted within a rock.
Entrance Hall, view toward front doorway. The manor houses elaborate fixtures and finishes are credited to architect Chester Carjola.
Fireplace andiron, detail.
Central staircase, stair rail detail.
Entrance Hall, arched view from front doorway toward courtyard.
Within the courtyard …
Courtyard column & carved figurative brackets.. Courtyard fountain.
Courtyard glass top table with geometric metal patterns.
Courtyard bench.
Courtyard bench, detail.
Courtyard, view toward the Music Room.
Façade, view from above the orange grove and lemon orchard.
A brick double staircase leads down from the upper terrace to the herb gardens below.
The pool, cabana and tennis court.
Casa Teresita was built for the owner's mother during the 1930s. Chester Carjola, architect.
Casa Teresita.
Chantal, the house chef, prepared an array of organic dietary/allergy-sensitive meals, including this memorable citrus and beet salad.
Casa de Maria, library.
Music Room, view from the orchestra balcony as set up for Festival of Lights evening.
Music Room, view toward the arched orchestral balcony.
Music Room, orchestral balcony detail.
The Madrigal troupe makes its way up to the balcony overlooking the Music Room.
Guests lit candles while the Madrigal troupe sang.
A Madrigal singer.
Butterfly Beach, Montecito
Three women with grey coats, 2016. "It is so warm in Santa Barbara."
Pacific sunset, view from the Four Seasons Resort–The Biltmore.
Photography by Augustus Mayhew.

Augustus Mayhew is the author of Palm Beach-A Greater Grandeur