Industrial-grade garage doors open the living spaces of Toro Canyon House to Pacific Ocean views. Photo: Russ Widstrand
Our sense of the house?s setting began on the undulating plain of the Pacific coast, in Montecito, just east of Santa Barbara. We turned inland, and moved across the plain to arrive at the foot of Toro Canyon, which, in turn, led up into the mountains above. The lush greenery of the coastal plain began to give way to the dryer brush of the rising mountain-side. Close to the top of Toro Canyon Road, we turned east onto a winding, climbing drive-way. After a few hundred yards, a parking court came into view, and above it, we had our first glimpse of the house that Barton Myers designed and built here for himself.
The main house sits on a plateau on the slope of the mountain, with a garage and guest house beneath it, and a small studio building behind it. The main house is fronted by three large steel bays, facing out towards the Pacific and the island of Santa Cruz. Each bay is enclosed by a glazed industrial garage door, some 15 feet or so high. The three great bays house living, dining and kitchen. Stretching across the back of the three bays ranges a long-er, narrower, lower stucco block of more enclosed and more intimate rooms. At either end of this linear plan configuration is located a large bedroom suite.
The house bespeaks a long architectural lineage. Its designer has had an epic architectural career, and one of the main themes of that career?s ambition has been the devising of steel systems of construction for residential buildings that are meticulously fabricated?but in a relaxed fashion that does not fetishize the system. In this sense, the Santa Barbara house is a child of the Pacific Palisades house of Charles and Ray Eames. But this characterization does not fully capture its pedigree; it is, after all, symmetrical about a north-south axis. In its formality, it also evokes the grandeur of that consequential precedent that so influenc...