Shubin + Donaldson Architects - Santa Barbara Riviera Residence

Shubin + Donaldson Architects

Santa Barbara Riviera Residence

Sun Filled in the Hills - Shubin + Donaldson Architects have created an ideal place to soak up sun and views in the Santa Barbara hills.

Owners Geoffrey Moore and Genie Gable searched more than a year to find a site that met their exacting and almost-contradictory requirements.
- Moore (international businessman and writer who, when not travelling, splits his work time between a home office in Santa Barbara and a corporate office 85 miles south in Santa Monica) wanted a shaded, quiet office space filled with cutting-edge technology for global communication where he could write without distraction.
- Genie, his wife (principal of Genie Gable Interior Design, and a graduate of the Professional Design Program at UCLA, studied in the masters classes of Rose Tarlow) sought sun-filled spaces with unimpeded views of the nearby Pacific Ocean and, at night, the city lights of Santa Barbara.
The public rooms reflect her specialisation of modern design in modern homes.

Although by Santa Barbara standards the home is relatively compact (Moore and Gable are empty-nesters) no space is wasted. "We use every room every day," she says, "and never tire of the constantly changing light from the ocean to the south, the canyon to the east and the mountains to the north."

This relatively small house (when compared to its neighbours) has all of the elements of a 5,000- or 6,000-square-foot house in a tidy, 3,200-square-foot package. The three-level home and two-car garage include open living/dining area, kitchen, master bedroom and bath, guest bedroom and bath, home gym, powder room, two home offices with office bath, outdoor dining area, outdoor lounge areas, lap pool, and 1,400 square feet of lower-level storage.

Hidden environmentally sustainable design - Though not immediately obvious, this house embraces several green design characteristics.
  • The house layout is based on solar orientation, resulting in passive solar gains throughout the year.
  • Photovoltaic power generates household electricity through a 2.8kw system (when power is not needed, it feeds back into the grid).
  • A passive roof-top solar heating system provides for domestic hot water and a passive solar ground-level hot-water system is used to heat the pool.
  • The natural flow of hot and cool air is fortified by the use of radiant hot-water floor heating and separate central air conditioning in the ceilings. - Although these systems are in place, they are rarely used because of the solar orientation of the home and the natural ventilation.
  • The architects re-used the existing foundation and caissons. During construction, the existing house was taken apart piece-by-piece, with all usable elements donated to Habitat for Humanity.
  • Other energy-saving systems include double-pane windows, UV-resistant glass, ample insulation, and energy-efficient appliances.
  • Deep exterior overhangs are designed to provide shade in the summer, and let in sun during the winter.

A dramatic glass canopy ceremoniously marks the entrance to the home, bisecting the ground-to-roof planes of glass that form sidelights and clerestories. Throughout the house, walls intersect with glass in a play of solidity and transparency. There is a certain efficiency of design in the layout, yet it provides all of the amenities so that the house looks and feels like a five-star private residential club. By taking up minimal space (what's absolutely necessary and no more) the house also takes up minimal resources.

A monumental feeling is emphasised by designing the house to constantly open up to the outdoors. A neutral colour scheme complements the colours of nature that comprise the predominant palette. An infinity pool just outside the living room leads the eye to the ocean and the Channel Islands beyond. Four separate terraces surround the house, continuing the indoor/outdoor feeling and accessibility.

Each room affords great vistas as well as stunning natural light throughout the day. Large windows create frames for nature. Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves complement the mahogany living room wall that houses an entertainment centre. Set into the wall, and surrounded by floor-to-ceiling glass, it acts as an extension of the outdoors. Doorways in general (even in the limestone-clad bathrooms) are taller than usual and lead the eye upward to be rewarded by either natural light or a beautiful vista. Dark walnut floors and softly minimalist furniture are sophisticated and inviting. Bedrooms and master bath look out to the ocean. The kitchen faces the hillside, emphasising how the house maintains a connection with nature.


Firm: Shubin + Donaldson Architects is a high-design architecture firm that specialises in developing livable environments. Headed by partners Russell Shubin, AIA, and Robin Donaldson, AIA, the firm tailors its projects (custom residential, office buildings and interiors, retail, hospitality, planning, and multi-family housing) with a refined sensitivity toward the land and context.

Architect: Shubin + Donaldson Architects - Robin Donaldson, AIA, Principal and Russell Shubin, AIA, Principal
Project Team: Nils Hammerbeck, Daniel Webber, Kelly Kish, Allison White, Josh Blumer, Alan McLeod, and David Van Hoy
Interiors: Genie Gable Interior Design
Contractor: Quillin Construction
Landscape: Lane Goodkind
Photos: Ciro Coelho
Article & Imagery: Courtesy - Taylor & Company (many thanks)

via: Taylor & Company