Elysian Park Residence


Private Residence and Guesthouse
Los Angeles, California

The Elysian Park residence is located at the top of the hills adjacent to the park and Dodger Stadium.  Situated at the border between the vast open space of the park and the surrounding metropolis to the west, the site affords panoramic views of the city as far away as the Pacific coastline.

The house is composed on two discrete levels, public over private. In contrast to the insularity and privacy of the bedrooms on the lower floor, the upper floor is for the most part continuous, open and transparent, vaporizing like a cloud hovering above the land. The luminous volume is bound by clear glazing on the west and translucent polycarbonate panels overlooking the street to the east. The ceiling is twelve feet high throughout.

While the view seems always to be one of the strongest determinants of siting and orientation for architecture, in this instance it was also a problem. Facing directly west, the desire to ‘take it all in’ forces one to almost stare directly into the sun in the late afternoon. The deep fins of a lightweight aluminum brise-soleil placed along the length of the entire west facade solves this problem, mitigating the effects of exposure and glare while maintaining the view.  Finally, in spite of a fairly liberal amount of open space on the site, its usefulness was called into question due to the extreme slope. Outdoor space in the form of a terrace compensates for this dilemma and completes the large loft-like space of the upper floor, acting as an outdoor room. Back to back fireplaces serve as focal points for the living space and the outdoor terrace.

Several years after the main house was completed, a detached guesthouse was subsequently constructed downslope. As opposed to the levitati
ng quality of the main house above, the guesthouse is firmly anchored in the earth, not unlike a ship cutting through the ocean. The guesthouse is composed of a single living space with kitchen and separate bath with a modest lap pool on the wood rooftop deck. While the main house is white and luminous, the guesthouse is contrasting as a simple, dark grey, mass.

Project credits:
Russell Thomsen, Eric Kahn, Ron Golan.
Photography by IDEA.
General Contractor: Roman Janczak Construction, Inc.

Untitled-2_Page_05Untitled-2_Page_01 Untitled-2_Page_03Untitled-2_Page_02
Untitled-2_Page_06Untitled-2_Page_07Untitled-2_Page_09Untitled-2_Page_12Untitled-2_Page_08add grassUntitled-2_Page_11Untitled-2_Page_04 COA_9903_FDR

About Russell Thomsen

A founding partner in the award winning Central Office of Architecture (COA, 1987-2008) and IDEA Office (2009-2014), Russell Thomsen formed RNThomsen Architecture in 2015. He has been a licensed architect since 1989. The office provides a full range of architectural services. In addition to directing the practice, Russell is also a senior design studio faculty member at the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc) in downtown Los Angeles. The work of the office has been internationally recognized, exhibited and published. The office has received several awards including the Architectural League Prize and Emerging Voices, both from the Architectural League of New York, and the Best In American Architecture Award for the Saitama Residence.