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The Arroyo Collection

The Arroyo Collection is an extremely unique remodel and addition to an existing two-story office building with an attached split-level commercial garage and storage building on Mission Street in South Pasadena. Our clients converted the downstairs office space to a fine art gallery, the commercial garage to an automobile collection and workshop, converted the upstairs office to a living-dining-kitchen, and added a 780 s.f. steel-and-glass split-level master suite and surrounding decks. The result is a breathtaking example of a modern design creating warmth, capturing natural light, and providing abundant outdoor space in what once was a commercial office complex.

The Program
The project was conceived from the start as a simple steel-and-glass Master Suite addition adjoining the split-level Living-Dining-Kitchen below. The suite was to be surrounded on three sides by decking, with one dedicated as private, off the Master Bath, and housing the outdoor spa.

Design Challenges
The most difficult challenge was building atop the existing 1200 s.f. garage. Not only was it large in area, but its ceiling was also three feet above the second floor level. Furthermore, the client program included decks surrounding all three sides of the upstairs addition—all required to be within the footprint of the garage below. The solution was to develop a series of steel beams and columns that spanned the entire width and length of the garage below, but supporting a second series of beams and columns offset 6-12 feet from the lower perimeter. Steel was the natural choice, and when painted a rich Egyptian red and juxtaposed against natural woods, the result is as breathtaking as it is invisible.


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Sculpture Garden
Part of the Program included converting the front parking spaces off Mission Street to a sculpture garden. Making this exercise tricky was the requirement to provide an access ramp—cleverly concealed by wrapping the perimeter of the deck while creating intermediate access for each level.
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Main Entry
A steel, glass, ipe, and core ten steel fence and sliding gate lead to the main steps up to the sculpture garden. A classic Craftsman lantern welcomes visitors, where they can walk up the Trex steps or turn right and use the access ramp. Beyond is the gallery door and splitface CMU walls—both part of the original building.

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Loft Steps
The original building can be seen to the right—which we converted to a gallery below and living quarters above. Creeping fig covers a CMU privacy wall beyond, and offset within our Trex sculpture garden is a tree, notched into the decking itself and uplit.

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Garden at Twilight
Here the layout of the Sculpture Garden can be seen from above. The steel and glass perimeter fencing and gate is at the upper right, with the access ramp winding its way around the perimeter of the garden. The Trex decking is laid to accommodate steps leading to it, and in one corner a decorative tree has been notched into the decking and uplit. Uplighting surrounds the perimeter of the garden, and is accented by the welcoming Craftsman lantern placed at the entry.

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Garden Shadows
Here the same vantage is viewed in the morning—when dappled shadows are at its most beautiful.

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Garden at Sunset
Standing at the entry and looking towards the access ramp, its careful integration into the three levels of the Sculpture Garden can be appreciated. Winding around to the right, the garden landing can be seen beyond, while one more small ramp rises to the concrete entry step to the left. The decorative tree, notched into the deck and uplit, can be seen center right.






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Main Exteriors
The loft itself is supported on wide-flange steel columns and beams, with columns offset at the corners to allow for mitered glass corners. Surrounding the entire space, uninterrupted on all four sides, is a two-foot tall glass transom. The ceiling, composed of exposed cedar, is directly attached to steel rafters at a 32" spacing, with structural sheathing above for shear transfer. The overhangs are eight feet wide. Surrounding the perimeter decks are steel-and-glass railings, with pattered translucent glass.
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View from Mission Street
In this view from the gardens at Mike & Anne's Restaurant, the loft can be seen atop, and set back from, the original main first floor building. The existing perimeter walls are splitface CMU—the loft is steel, glass, and natural wood. To the upper left is the private access elevator, with the private deck visible just beyond the steel-and-glass railings.
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Main Access Deck
Acting as a bridge between the Access Elevator and the Dining Deck is the Access Deck, foreground. Beyond is the Master Bedroom, with the Dining Deck beyond to the left. Above, wide flange beams, spanning eight feet and coped at the ends, support steel rafters spaced at 32". The steel-and-glass railings feature patterned translucent glass—which when lit from beyond, emit a beautiful amber color as lighting reflects off natural ipe decking.

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Dining Deck
Just off the Sculpture Deck is the Dining Deck, with warm ipe decking and sheet-steel planters, with uplighting placed between each planter. The raised planter plinth to the right is removable to provide for deck drain maintenance and cleaning. Beyond the deck is a steel-and-glass railing system, which wraps the entire deck.

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Dining Deck from Sculpture Plinth
Standing at the steps leading from the Dining Room to the Sculpture Plinth, the Dining Deck can be seen beyond the steel Kawneer multi-slide sliding doors. In the background, sheet steel planters are uplit from below, and surrounded by a steel-and-glass railing system.
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Sculpture Fountain
Off the transitional Sculpture Plinth is the outdoor Sculpture Fountain—a composition that includes a small fountain (with a sculpture in the center) and cantilevered fire shelf. It is directly adjacent to the Dining Patio, and visible from the interior Dining Area and Kitchen.






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Interior Spaces
The building interior is essentially divided into three main spaces—the LDK (Living/Dining/Kitchen), the Master Bedroom, and the Master Bath and Closet. The LDK is one block, with the Laundry and Powder Room at the end (this was the original second floor office space). Built above the raised Garage roof, the Master Bedroom, Bath, and Closet is all contained within the main 780 s.f. steel-and-glass addition. Each space is open to the other, with only the Master Bath and Closet utilizing a large-panel sliding pocket door (which the Owners usually leave open).

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Kitchen
At one end of the LDK is the Kitchen, with a bennihana-style cooking area, panelizeed oven, refrigerator, and storage wall, and main sink. Not quite visible, in the foreground, is the Dining Area, next to which is the Living Area. The entire space is one volume, broken by the dropped cantilevered ceiling above the Kitchen.

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Main Cross Platform
Adjacent to the Living Area are the steps leading up to the Master Suite and outdoor decks. The upper level beyond was dictated by the high ceiling (roof) over the existing Garage below. To the left is the interior Sculpture Plinth, with the sliding pocket doors (shown open) to the Master Bath and Closet in the center. This eight-foot privacy wall is open above, allowing light from the two-foot transoms to filter into the Master Bedroom The low wall to the center-right conceals the bed behind it, and the steel-and-glass framing can be seen in the background—including the continuous two-foot transom windows.

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Sculpture Plinth
Here we're looking back at the Kitchen/Dining area with the Sculpture Plinth in the foreground. Above, the steel-and-glass framing extends over the privacy partition, and conceals the Master Closet beyond. Warm woods, crisp wall colors, textural floor coverings, and strong Egyptian red painted steel create a strong, but comfortable, environment.

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Cross Platform
In this photograph, standing at the Cross Platform, we can see into the Master Bath, with the Master Closet hidden to the left, and the Shower/Toilet compartment hidden to the right. The partition, center, holds the sliding pocket doors, and only raises up to the eight-foot main beam height, and is completely open above to the far wall of the bath beyond.






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Sketchbook Sketches
Prior to, and throughout the design of any project, I am constantly sketching out thoughts, identifying problems, and exploring ideas and solutions in my sketchbook. Whether a detail, encompassing concept, or strategy, more often than not, it winds its way into this tool, often times leading to even more subsequent iterations. Below are some sketches developed during the design of the Arroyo Collection.
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Initial Streetscape
This sketch is one of the first sketches we did for the project—when the Owners were wondering what a steel-and-glass structure might look like atop their existing split-level two story CMU office building and storage area. This sketch is from the west—Mike & Anne's Restaurant—and contemplates some of the project's proportions.

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Initial Proportions
In this sketch we were exploring some of the likely proportions—eight-foot doors and windows with two-foot transoms, a thee-foot height change between floors, lighting for interior spaces, corner window conditions, and door style/proportions.

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Elevator Study
Again, in this very early sketch (before we had even measured the building or begun any design work) we are exploring elevator location, and how to tie it into the likely resulting addition. The perspective above is a question back to myself ("?") that was later answered with a completely different concept and proportion. Below, we were exploring plan grid measurements, built off of a 4'x8' 'modern tatami' modular system, and how to incorporate outside decking into the interior.
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Outrigger Study
Here we were exploring ways to cope the steel W-Shape steel beam ends. We ultimately chose the top sketch for its simplicity and timelessness.

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Deck Study
In this sketch we were exploring the transitions from interior to exterior flooring—particularly considering steel framing, drainage, and waterproofing.

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Platform Sketch
Long before framing had begun, we developed this sketch to explore the transition between the loft steps and the Master Bath suite. We really like this one—it's amazingly close to what actually got built.