LOS ALTOS HILLS, CA
This project is located at the end cul-de-sac on Kate Drive in the Town of Los Altos Hills. The topography of the site slopes slightly upward from the roadway towards a conservation easement that runs along the rear of the property at the north. To the south, the property enjoys views of rocky canyon and the nearby small man-made lake and the foothills beyond.
Our client had traveled extensively in Italy and had always been enamored with its architecture and wanted his new home to reflect this style. He also wanted to make sure that his new residence, although designed in a traditional style, would be equipped with all the latest modern electronic features and amenities that one would expect to find in a home of one of Silicon Valley's leading business corporate leaders.
He had recently remarried and needed enough space in their new domicile to accommodate both households including their furnishings, vehicles, along with his own personal collection of classic automobiles under one roof. Both enjoyed cooking and entertaining their family and guests in the kitchen and wanted their new kitchen to be spacious so they could both work without interfering with the other's food preparation activity. In addition, they wanted the main residence to be at least 5,300 square feet in size, and wanted the main entrance, guest bath, great room, kitchen, family room, laundry/mudroom with access to the garage, 2 private offices, and master with his and her walk-in closets, sitting area and private bath, be located on the first floor level. On the second floor, the wanted 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths for their teenage children. They also wanted a detached guest cottage for visitors to stay, swimming pool, and have plenty of open space left over on their property so they could plant a small vineyard, and still have space left for gardens and open lawn areas to stroll and to enjoy the surrounding views of the lake and canyon from their property.
The challenge with this project was to find enough space on the lot to construct the main residence, guest cottage, swimming pool, provide the necessary on-site for the family's own vehicular parking, and have enough garage space for the client's classic automobile collection without exceeding the Town's maximum floor area ratio allowed for this property. To overcome this problem we decided to place the parking garage below grade - beneath the footprint of the main residence - and to use a hydraulic vehicle lift to access it from one of the parking stalls in the two-car garage above.
During the course of the design phase of the home however, our client still feared the Town's allowable size for his new home was still too small for the additional interior space he needed to host large parties, and have space for a billiard room and a wine storage cellar. To add this additional space to the home without exceeding the maximum floor area allowed, we created an elongated 2,100 square foot subterranean habitable space beneath the main lawn area that separated the main residence from the guest cottage located at the rear of the property. We utilized a post-tension concrete slab with a special waterproofing coating and drainage system to cap the space and to support the weight of the earth and soil above, and added a outside staircase to the guest cottage to connect it to the main residence. To bring natural light and air into this space, we strategically placed large operable skylight shafts in the landscaped and lawn areas above. We also installed a viewing window panel in the deep end of the swimming pool so that family and guests could enjoy seeing the pool activities below its waterline.