This modern guest house built in 2012, was designed by Architect Noah Walker “to take advantage of the views without blocking them, and also connect with the impressive tree canopy on the site. There are125 coast live oak trees on the property.”
The guest house and concert hall as seen from the trees. Photo: Nicholas Alan Cope
The guest house consists of a low barn, extensively renovated, which is used as a living room and a concert hall for classical music. Adjacent to the barn is another structure described as a ‘glassy tree-house’ overlooking the nearby canyons. The main house is currently under construction and was not part of the home tour we took.
As we approached the house, we were first drawn to the gorgeous vintage brown Mercedes, parked in front of the house, and perfectly matched to the house’s aesthetic. It was a nicely appointed grace note for the whole experience. Although a large part of this house was a renovated barn, the whole project felt new. The materials, concrete floors, glass railings, open living, and floor to ceiling glazing made this guest house a jewel in the landscape.
Skylight in the upper bathroom.
Chandelier in the concert hall rafters.
Of all the houses we saw on the Dwell Home tours this was the one that my daughter emotionally â€˜moved intoâ€™. When I asked her why – she said it was the house she could see herself living in very comfortably. Not to mention, ‘itâ€™s so cool.’
Little did I know when my daughter suggested we have a drink at the Chateau Marmont, after a day of home tours in the Canyons, that it was the quintessential Los Angeles Hotel. Apparently the Eaglesâ€™ 1977 song â€˜Hotel Californiaâ€™ is rumoured to be about the Chateau Marmont.
I have to thank the Vancouver Art Galleryâ€™s latest show called, Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life for enlightening and informing me of the hotelâ€™s notorious reputation for being the ultimate hedonistâ€™s hangout. Without seeing this exhibition, I doubt I would have delved further into the seedier history of Los Angeles. Although I knew something was up when the hotel staff asked me to put my camera away. Anyone who knows me, knows, this is very hard for me to do. I did manage to sneak a few pictures, but my friends were nervous about being thrown out, so I had to limit my shots. We did see some recognizable faces in the courtyard so I assumed this request was in deference to their guestâ€™s privacy. Evidently the Chateauâ€™s tradition of carefully guarded guest privacy dates back to its opening in 1927.
The hotel was loosely modeled after the French Loire Valleyâ€™s Chateau dâ€™Amboise and was purposely built and envisioned, as a place where entertainment industry talent could feel at home. The hotel was designed to allow guests to come and go discretely, resulting in the Chateauâ€™s reputationÂ as a place for intrigue and indiscretion.Â Most importantly, guests could come and go without being observed by the press.
The Marmont was originally conceived as a deluxe residential apartment complex. However, with the onset of the Great Depression, changes to the business model were required, so the Chateau became a hotel instead. The new owner capitalized on the flagging economy by purchasing antique furniture from estate sales, resulting in the Chateauâ€™s distinctive style, so loved by visitors.
In the late 60s and 70s the Chateau Marmont was very popular with musicians and became the locus for the emerging Los Angeles music scene based in the Laurel Canyon. According to the exhibition, Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life, the Marmont was a retreat for some of the most famous musicians of the folk-rock revival, including Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Jim Morrison, The Mamas and the Papas, and the The Byrds. The Marmont emerged as the place to meet, hang out, jam and engage in a variety of shenanigans.
The exhibition further explains, â€œThe stories are legendary: Janis Joplin wandering the halls at all hours of the night in a drug induced haze; Jim Morrison, in a fog of Jack Daniels and LSD, falling from his second-storey window and injuring his back; Led Zeppelin, in a juvenile gesture of rock â€˜nâ€™ roll tomfoolery, famously riding their motorcycles through the lobby; and Alice Cooper engaging in a spirited game of nude football. The Marmont assumed a tawdry feel in the 1970s, becoming a place to score drugs, entertain suicidal thoughts or hide from the world for a while.â€Â John Belushi died of a drug overdose in his room, Bungalow #3 at the Chateau Marmont. Below is a 1956 view of the Marmont bungalows.
It wasnâ€™t just musicians who made the Chateau Marmont their home. It also was a favourite place for old Hollywood from the 1930s through the 1950s. â€œDeals were made, careers established and destroyed, and relationships were forged and broken within the hallowed walls of the Marmont.â€ The founder of Columbia Pictures is known to have told young actors, â€œIf you must get into trouble. Do it at the Marmont.â€
Personally, we found the service to be incredible. When we were indecisive about which wine to order, our server brought us 3 varieties to try! I want to thank my agents provocateurs, Shelina, Devon and Paisley for making our Chateau Marmont experience so memorable! When in Los Angeles, pay the Chateau Marmont a visit, and if you are in Vancouver, go see the show, Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life.
“A city is about having a center, or an intersection people tend to associate with culture, gatherings, and activities. A vibrant city has a core and a pulse that is always beating and when you visit that core place your spirit is lifted and you leave having experienced something new and different.” (from CEOs for Cities)
Keeping our cities vibrant: Vancouver’s example:
Citizens of Strathcona rejected a freeway through Chinatown in 1967Â “Immediately, protest came from every part of the city, and a crowd of 800 people gathered in City Hall to shout down the consultants’ proposals. The Chairman of the city’s planning commission resigned on the spot, and a year later, the plan was scrapped. Apparently, the spirited editorializing of the local papers in favor of cutting out civic blight with a concrete knife had influenced no one but a handful of architects.â€ read more
Having just spent a few wonderful days in the Annex and Kensington Market, I am so happy to see a neighbourhood pull together to voice their concerns over the negative impact of big box retail.
â€œPeople donâ€™t walk to stores in a walkable city, they walk through neighbourhoods with stores,â€ said Vaughan (a Toronto City Councillor) while at the podium. â€œBig box is the antithesis of a walkable city.â€ read more.
Have a look at Toronto’s Annex and Kensington Market through the eyes’ of a traveler (me).
In the lanes of the Annex, graffiti artists show their work. Every garage was the canvas and the lanes became the gallery.Â Â For some, their work is political.
People are at the center of vibrant, livable cities.
An internationally recognized architect, urban planner, and educator since 1953, Ray Kappe‘s much awarded and published work is considered to be an extension of the early Southern California master architects: Wright, Schindler, Neutra, and Harwell Hamilton Harris.
Some good advice In the words of Ray Kappe:
“I’ve always sought out the edges, the views, and a feeling
“I was once asked what I think are the ten most important principles that helped make me a successful architect, planner, and educator…
(1)Â Think positively, not negatively.
(2)Â Accept structure but know that it is to be questioned and broken when necessary.
(3)Â Always be willing to explore, experiment and invent.Â Do not accept the status quo.
(4)Â Know yourself and keep your work consistent with who you are and how you think.
(5)Â Maintain good moral and social values.
(6)Â Be humble, honest, compassionate, and egalitarian.
(7)Â Have conviction about your work.
(8)Â Be open and say yes to most ideas and requests. The good ones will be valuable, the bad ones will cease to exist.
(9)Â Allow employees and fellow workers freedom and the ability to work to their strengths. Avoid hierarchy.
(10) Money should be the residual of work, not the goal.Â But do not compromise your worth.”