Written by: Lynn Morgan
Photography by: Scott Mayoral
The precise, challenging facade, clad in zinc-coated stainless steel, looms four commanding stories above the street, a sleek and polished design by one of contemporary architecture’s boldest and most innovative firms. Designed in 1984 by Morphosis, the ground-breaking firm headed by future Pritzker laureate Thom Mayne and his then-partner, Michael Rotondi, the Lawrence/Harris house in Hermosa Beach is an extraordinary example of an early work by internationally acclaimed architects, a private residence that holds a significant place in the history of post-Modern architecture.
This artistically stimulating space, created for connoisseurs of contemporary architecture, is a study in unadorned elegance with simple materials – steel and glass and concrete – used sparingly to emphasize the linear purity of the design.
The house was restored in 2002 by Daly Genik Architects with meticulous attention to the original artistic intent, preserving the floors, finishes and original fixtures. “The attention to detail is extraordinary,” says realtor Gerard Bisignano of south Bay Brokers, who represents the property. Having restored other houses by important 20th century architects, the owner is uniquely sensitive to the responsibility that comes with owning and preserving an architectural icon. “The owner is passionate about the architectural significance of the house, and has gone to tremendous lengths to rejuvenate it,” notes Bisignano.
Entry is though a dazzling, semi-circular light well of glass brick, leading to double staircases, or an elevator that soars three stories to the top of the house. It is an exciting introduction to the open, flowing floor plan, which is both a showcase for displaying art and a gracious space for entertaining within the panorama of sand, surf and the sea.
The house is surprisingly spacious. Set on a standard-size ocean view lot, it offers 4500-square-feet of sophisticated living space: three bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, a family room and a wine cellar, all luxuriously spread over four stories and served by the elevator. The living room, dining area and kitchen are all grouped on the top floor to take advantage of the expansive ocean views. Because the house was built before the city of Hermosa Beach instituted new building restrictions, no new structures can ever impede the home’s breathtaking Palos Verdes to Catalina whitewater views.
The house is both causal and cosmopolitan, combining sleek international style with California ambience, creating the perfect fusion of sophistication and comfort and allowing its owner to enjoy the relaxing proximity of the beach and the inspirational atmosphere of actually living in a work of art.
The house is co-listed with Crosby Doe of Crosby Doe Associates in Beverly Hills, a firm that specializes in architecturally significant properties. A recognized authority on architectural history, he is thrilled to represent this property. “The Lawrence/Harris residence is monumental in the broadest sense,” he says. “It’s already a recognized icon of Modernism in the Beach cities. Everyone who is in tune with architecture knows the house, but not everyone knows it’s the tallest residence in Hermosa Beach. This verticality is balanced through the open floor structure and panoramic window treatments that afford wide vistas of the beach, the surf and horizon. The interior surfaces was a good one for living. There is still a purity of vision here, but the spaces are less rigorous and hard-edged. There is comfort as well as beauty in the home.”
Bisignano agrees, “It’s a cutting edge work of art.”
The sale of this property represents a rare opportunity to own a truly unique beachside residence – a celebrated precocious masterpiece from a acknowledged genius at the dawn of his career.
“The more you understand architecture, the more you will appreciate, it,” syas Bisignano. “It’s an early piece from a modern master.”