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The Caverhill Residence Designed by LA Architect Zoltan Pali Offers a Sunlit Respite From The World
Contemporary” is a loose term to throw around architecturally, with the potential to describe anything from a Spartan-like box of a home to a bona fide sculpture in space, the latter which nicely describes the Caverhill Residence.
Even prior to taking a peek, a cue to the home’s pedigree is signaled via its representation by Crosby Doe of Crosby Doe Associates, who in the architecture world is akin to a Larry Gagosian or a Hans Ulrich Obrist—a curator and dealer of the finest canvases around.
Crosby Doe’s firm transacts works by master architects like Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra, along with contemporaries such as Frank Gehry and, in this case, Zoltan Pali, whose project roster includes the Getty Villa and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” says Crosby Doe, recounting the time he was first introduced to the four-bedroom residence, completed in 2008 and nearly 5,000 square feet in all.
“I know Zoltan has a good body of work, and is a very conscious architect. But I wasn’t prepared for the resolution of the house, where every side of the house was completely resolved as sculpture. Inside and outside it makes a statement that’s quite unique.”
From the Mountains to the Ocean
Whether traveling from Mulholland, just north of the home, or Sunset Boulevard, a 10-minute drive south, it’s a curvy but likable path of upscale residential streets that leads to the Caverhill Residence, which is nestled meticulously atop a tree-flanked ridge, the highest one, on a private drive just above Trousdale Estates.
Driving up to the address one is met by the gently curvilinear home that stretches along the street, striking for its elegant mass and a series of fins that have been moulded along its exterior wall. On a practical level, the fins function to control the amount of light that enters the home and ensures privacy, and Zoltan Pali utilized an innovative mix of materials to construct.
“The fins are actually made out of an MDF-product called Extira,” notes the architect. “They were built by cabinet makers and then painted with a quality, car-type paint.”
But it’s the home’s stark-white angles that strike the greatest visual contrast, interrupting the blue skies and green trees that surround it. And its shape, a defining feature of the home, comes from the architect and his team re-working the project’s most challenging aspect—siting—into a home run. Zoltan Pali describes the lot as a “very steep site with a slope that was angled to the street.”
His solution? Span the home wide across the lengthy frontage, then dip deep into the hillside on the back end, giving it what Zoltan Pali describes as a “wedge shape.” Not a bad idea, since the property is home to dramatic, only-in-LA views, from glowing mountain ridges and the pointed spires of downtown skyscrapers to swaths of the sparkling ocean just beyond the Westside cities—views that Zoltan Pali’s design capitalizes on and celebrates.
The way indoors is found by a short stroll down a slender hallway that, within a few steps, segues one from the outside world to a place carved out of three levels of sunshine, nature, and minimalist ease. There are two-bedroom suites on the ground floor; two more, including the terraced master suite, on the top floor; and a middle floor dedicated to airy and uncluttered lounging, dining, and kitchen spaces.
“When you walk in, the house disappears and you float,” says owner Don Caverhill, who commissioned Zoltan Pali to build the home after spotting an Architectural Digest feature of an award-winning residence the architect designed on Stone Canyon Road.
Don Caverhill—a creative soul and a businessman whose earliest career was that of a teenage founding member of the Kingsmen, and whose first record was the 1963 smash “Louie, Louie”—provided input to dial in the final details of Zoltan Pali’s original design, which sold Don Caverhill at first sight.
Rooms in the Don Caverhill Residence are atmospheres, and moving through the home is an experience of shifting through changing scenes drawn by light and perspective. “There’s almost an intangible quality of good architecture that’s hard to put in words,” says Crosby Crosby Doe, summing up the phenomenon.
“But when you walk in you can feel it.” And floating is an apt description of the effect in this house. One’s immediate perception of it is not formed by sight but of experience; a feeling of being in a place where the natural surroundings have been neatly folded in, and because of it, the entire space is animated.
Crosby Doe points to the fenestration, or the way glass is organized with the house, as one of the attributes that form the overall effect. “We see a rhythm and a balance to the whole statement, and that’s why it looks so natural,” remarks Crosby Doe.
It’s this, along with the network of terraces and balconies—some semi-enclosed to filter the elements and shape mood—plus the glass-lined, open spaces sculpted in pure white set against contrasting soft-grey floors, concrete and finished to a velvety sheen, that are chief among the features that make up the sensory kaleidoscope.
Vim and Vigor
Like a virtuoso performance, superb design, when it’s executed, must keep the nitty-gritty of its workings under wraps for the sake of its audience. (Zoltan Pali, when asked how he gathered the understanding of the site and surrounds that was needed to spin such a composition, lightheartedly responds that he “had lots of tequila with Mr. Caverhill on-site.”)
One moment you might be on a fresh-air deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean, another you’re perched on a fireside deck at ground level, peacefully cloistered by greenery and listening to water spill along the edge of the infinity pool.
“The way the home relates to the outdoors expresses the perfect California lifestyle,” says Crosby Doe. Wherever you are, though, the scene is always a private one, due to the home’s design and its top of-the-hill location, plus well-crafted landscaping that is neither wild nor prim.
When asked which part of the home is his favorite, Don Caverhill tells how his preference shifts with the light, which casts the home in different moods depending on the time of day, from morning to nightfall. “I sort of circulate around where the light is really neat. It feels good.”
“Home is supposed to be where you come to lick your wounds,” adds Don Caverhill. “You heal, you renew and you go out the next day. That’s what the home’s supposed to do for all of us.”
It’s easy to see how living in this place—where one is enveloped in invigorating nature scenes, and never more than a few steps from lungfuls of fresh, mountain air—is a potent aid in the process. “All I know,” says Don Caverhill, “is I leave every morning refreshed, and full of vim and vigor, as they say.”
Crosby Doe | Crosby Doe Associates
List Price $8,500,000
Photography by Paul Jonason