Contributing Monkie Whitney Sander
Published on February 2, 2009
Post by Sander Architects Client Thomas Small (The Briard House)
Hello and thanks for visiting! I am Thomas Aujero Small and along with Joanna and Hobbes, am one of the owners of this house. There is so much to say about this house and how we have all arrived at this point in time that I don’t know where to start. But maybe I should start with Whitney, as it really is entirely his fault. We never intended to build a house, at this stage in our lives. We wanted to move out of our town house and move up, modestly, into a different house, that we might improve or renovate. We searched and debated, over a couple of years. We decided on Culver City, as the last affordable place on the west side and looked seriously at a few properties. Our real estate agent, Colin Maduzia was a joy to work with and infinitely patient. We gradually discovered that the Rancho Higuera neighborhood was exactly what we wanted, and that Carson Street was excellent. Beautiful, mature laurel fig trees and wonderful old street lamps line the sidewalks of a long block that ends in a cul-de-sac. You can walk to downtown Culver City in ten minutes, and the Helms Bakery complex as well. The new transit station for the Expo Line of the light rail that will go downtown will also be built very nearby, hopefully within the next few years. So, location, location, location, we found a gorgeous, sustainable location. Walking, and public transit, what a surprise in central Los Angeles!
We looked at some other properties with houses that could be adapted, but the house on this property was beyond help. It would have been expensive just to bring it up to date, and much more expensive to make it livable. So I was dismayed, but persuaded that the best course was to start over again from scratch. We had talked to Whitney about renovating our townhouse in Santa Monica, and he came up with a spectacular plan. Then, on the other properties we looked at, he also came up with terrific plans. So when we finally settled on a property, and he suggested that our best course of action was to tear the old house down, the logic was undeniable. Starting anew, the architectural brief that we gave him was simple: create a work of art to live in, make it absolutely sustainable, and do it all for a song, because that’s all we have.
I work in architecture, but as a writer. So I know a lot of architects and I knew we had a tall order, but an intriguing one. Within the constraints of budget, and with the goal of sustainable design, we gave Whitney a huge amount of latitude. He rose to the occasion, as is his wont, and we have had a very lucky run so far. I will go into more and more detail as this journal continues, but in many ways the design is splendid and we are doing something revolutionary. And it all can be blamed on Whitney.