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“JARZM” Private House

Rooms with a View

John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects

“JARZM” Private House
By Charles Dupont -

Greater Los Angeles has nurtured experiments in residential architecture for over a hundred years, and one of the greatest concentrations of modern houses is found in the Silver Lake district, northeast of downtown. Precipitous streets wind up the hills surrounding the eponymous reservoir: a picturesque setting that has drawn generations of bohemians and radicals from the 1920s on. Houses by Rudolph M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, Gregory Ain, Raphael Soriano and many contemporary practitioners are tucked away among traditional villas in a lively mix of old and new.
The architectural partnership of John Friedman and Alice Kimm decided to make their own contribution to this rich legacy by building a house for their family that steps down a hillside from an upper to a lower street. An abundance of educational and civic commissions delayed the start of construction for 15 years, which allowed them to explore different ways of addressing the 1 in 2 slope. In their early years of practice, the partners collaborated on every job; now they take turns. For this personal project Friedman took the lead and Kimm played the role of client. They used their first initials and those of their three children as a name for the house.
Working within strict limits on floor area, height and setbacks, the architects decided to embed the house in the middle of the site to preserve their neighbors’ view corridor from street to reservoir and give themselves side views to plantings on the hillside. Steps lead down to a tiny forecourt, through the three levels of the house to a pool terrace, and continue down the hill to the garage and guest apartment facing the street below. 
It is a house of openness and transparency, lit from three sides and a skylight over the staircase, that feels far more spacious than its 370 sq. m. Glass sliders open up to panoramic views, drawing in cooling breezes in summer. The upper floor is an open living-dining area with a...

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