Housing starts


    Thank you, Arnold York. You took some of the words out of my mouth about Planning Commissioner Jo Ruggles’ strange slant on Malibu architecture.

    Since I am the architect of the very building under construction above PCH she has singled out as an example of her scathing discourse on hillside design, I have something to add to your eloquent editorial.

    Ms. Ruggles, you have named yourself an arbiter of what is acceptable in Malibu architecture. That is an awesome responsibility — and we architects are justified in asking: What are your qualifications to judge the “what and where and how” of the buildings of Malibu? You better not be living in a glass house.

    How incredible that you would set yourself up to delineate one house or several as examples of what you deem as inappropriate or unsightly on the skyline or whatever direction you choose to look, in this eclectically designed community.

    It’ll come as a big surprise to you that the very home you have chosen to denounce is a rebuild of a home built over 40 years ago on the same site and destroyed in the last Malibu fire. You’ve stated publicly that there was no building there before the present one under construction. I have to laugh at your ignorance since I was the “very young” (25) architect of the original house reachable only by a 180-foot tramway. (Your committee would choke on that today.)

    This was my first of over 50 houses I’ve designed along the beaches and hills of Malibu. I called it then, as now, “The Eagle’s Watch” because it perches as a proud bird on its ridge site overlooking Santa Monica Bay and PCH at Las Flores.

    I’ve loved Malibu all my life, its unique environment, its history. The mountains reaching down to the shoreline. The surf when it’s breaking is world class. I’ve been a longboard surfer most of my life and totally respect the ocean. I still surf a 12-foot wave and look inland toward the beautiful shoreline and houses I’ve designed. They fit in because of my point of view.

    Ms. Ruggles, are we architects of Malibu now supposed to “design by committee” with you as our learned leader? I’d love to get a spiritual word from Leonardo Gaudi, Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner, Van Der Rohe, and legions of architects who broke new ground and dared to put a building on a hillside or mountain top or ridge line.

    My thoughts on architecture or any art form you try to restrict is: You better look at some of the freedoms this country was founded upon. If you choose to ignore them, then roll back the clock and live in prewar Germany or Russia, or better yet, go to China today.

    I look forward to taking my next client’s plans to the Planning Commission. It should prove to be a very entertaining morning, or better yet — let’s make it “High Noon”!

    Harry H. Gesner, architect